A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 45: Memorandum of Results of the
Chiefs of General Staff Meeting regarding Reorganization
of the Warsaw Treaty, March 1, 1968

Since 1965 the Soviets had been trying, without much success, to bring about greater institutionalization and a tightening of controls within the Warsaw Pact. By the end of 1967, the matter had taken on added importance with NATO's recent steps toward greater consolidation following recommendations made by the Harmel Report13pre- pared by Belgium's former foreign minister. As a result, Moscow convened several important meetings of its allies, one of which is summarized in this memorandum. A key issue in reorganization of the Pact was the creation of a Military Council, which was supposed to be the counterpart to the NATO Military Committee. The meeting concluded without concrete results.

"…"

During February 29–March 1 of this year a meeting was held in Prague on the level of army defense ministers' deputies of member-states of the Warsaw Treaty concerning the establishment of principal institutions of the Unified Command.

Marshal Iakubovskii—the Supreme Commander of the Unified Armed Forces, directed the meeting, and the armies of individual states were represented by delegations with chiefs of general staffs as their leaders. "…"

"…"

The organizer of the meeting, the Command of the Unified Armed Forces, used as a focal point, repeatedly emphasizing it, that the matter of establishing the Staff of the Unified Armed Forces and the Committee on Technology was agreed upon at the conference of defense ministers in May 1966. Therefore, the fundamental object of this meeting was to coordinate a draft statute for the Military Council.

Bringing up the issue of the Military Council during the talks meant contradicting the stance of the Romanian side, which has demanded the establishment of such an institution during previous meetings. At that time, disapproving the Romanian proposal on this matter was a result of the fact that it "the Romanian side" assumed that the Military Council would function on the principle of unanimity (actual "veto rights"). Because the Romanian comrades, during preparatory talks led by the Supreme Commander during his recent visit to Bucharest, supposedly decided to abandon the idea of unanimity, grounds emerged for elaborating to a document, which in this case would be an expression of bilateral compromise. "…"

13 For details, see Helga Haftendorn, NATO and the Nuclear Revolution: A Crisis of Credibility, 1966–1967 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), and "The Future Taks of the Alliance: NATO's Harmel Report, 1966/67," ed. Anna Locher and Christian Nünlist, http://www.ethz/php/collections/coll_Harmel.htm.

-249-

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