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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 71: Hungarian Report of Warsaw Pact
Summit on Policy toward West Germany, January 7, 1970

This Hungarian report of a meeting of Warsaw Pact heads of state deals mainly with policy toward West Germany in the wake of Willy Brandt's election as chancellor and the initiation of Ostpolitik.7The meeting provides another example of Moscow's changed approach toward alliance members. Rather than simply announcing its decision, the Kremlin found it advisable first to consult about the meaning of the new FRG policy and how to respond, in hopes of gaining maximun support for its preferred policies. The document, which is typical of the high quality of Hungarian diplomatic reporting, records a rather lively debate at the meeting. The general consensus is that any change on Bonn's part was mainly tactical but should nevertheless be pursued, in part for the economic and trade benefits for the socialist bloc. Standing in opposition to closer ties was the GDR's Walter Ulbricht who flatly declared that nothing had happened to ame- liorate Bonn's revanchist instincts. Soviet leader Brezhnev then announced that Brandt would visit Moscow in a few days for negotiations, but declared that the time was not right to discuss the establishment of diplomatic relations. He acknowledged Ulbricht's charge that the new chancellor may only want to drive a wedge into the Warsaw Pact but he added that for the time being there was no better alternative to Brandt. Brezhnev's overall tone was somewhat skeptical about détente, even though it was Moscow's idea to pursue it, which indicates that the Soviets were not yet convinced they would get from it what they wanted.

"…"

Cde. Brezhnev opened the conference, which had been called to determine our joint policies towards the FRG. After this, Cde. Ulbricht presented the position of the German Socialist Unity Party's Central Committee; next to speak were Cdes. Kádár, Ceaușescu, Zhivkov, Husák, Gomułka and Brezhnev, in that order. At the end of the conference two documents were endorsed: a communiqué about the meeting and—at the request of the Vietnamese comrades—a statement in support of the struggle of Vietnam. No documents were produced for internal use.

The debate reflected an appropriate assessment of the position and politics of the FRG "…" The speakers primarily studied what actual possibilities the new elements in West German politics could offer to the socialist countries for improving current relations. Considering the complexity of the problem, the exchange of views failed to produce a complete agreement. The countries representing the extreme positions were the GDR on the one hand, and Poland and Romania on the other—while Hun-

7 Willy Brandt was West Germany's chancellor from 1969 to 1974. His Ostpolitik, or "Eastern Policy," aimed at normalizing relations between the two Germanys and generally improving ties with the rest of the Soviet bloc ("change through rapprochement"). While not abandoning the idea of German unification, his goal was to reduce tensions so long as Europe remained divided by the Cold War.

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