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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 78: Evaluation of the Helsinki Final Act
by the Czechoslovak Party Presidium, April 28, 1976

While the West won a number of concessions in the lead-up to the 1975 Helsinki con- ference (see Document No. 75), the Warsaw Pact believed it had achieved much of what it wanted out of the process, as this Czechoslovak evaluation of the Final Act shows. Written half a year after the signing of the Act, the document may be regarded as close to the Soviet position since it originated with a staunchly conformist regime and was based in part on discussions held in Moscow during the intervening period. An impor- tant aim of the document was to outline a strategy for implementing the final agreement. In particular, the Soviets wanted to supplement the Act with a series of bilateral con- sultative agreements with each Western country. To break the unity the West had shown during the preparatory stages of the CSCE, the Warsaw Pact plan was to assign each member-state the task of promoting relations with particular West European countries. The document does not reveal any concerns as yet over the Basket III human rights issue, but those would soon materialize.

By its resolution of August 22, 1975, the CC CPCz Presidium has decided to prepare an assessment of the results of the Helsinki conference for specific sectors and to consult and coordinate it with other socialist countries. "…"

Fulfilling the results of the CSCE conference will be a long-term process. Its focus will be primarily in the area of bilateral relations with the capitalist states. In this way, implementation of détente and the strengthening of positive elements in relations between states with different social systems will be guaranteed.

In particular, at issue will be first of all the further strengthening of the meaning, effect, and deliberate fulfillment of the Final Act, especially of the Declaration on Principles Guiding Relations between European States, which is to be approached as a single whole, thus maintaining and reinforcing its fundamental political importance. Concerning matters of a military character following from the so-called confidence-building measures that are a part of the first basket, we will only implement them by taking account "our" political needs in a fashion that would not jeopardize the overall results of the CSCE and to an extent that would in no way go beyond the framework of the specific provisions of the Final Act. Such an approach has been made entirely feasible by the adoption of the principle of voluntary fulfillment of these provisions. However, we will actively exploit the provisions applying to disarmament in negotiations about it.

With regard to the second and third baskets, two views must be considered: On the one hand, to exploit the maximum possibilities embodied in the Final Act for the more offensive assertion of our particular economic as well as ideological and political interests and needs in relation to capitalist Europe, the United States and Canada; on the other hand, concerning the parts or specific provisions of the Final Act that have been

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