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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 88: Summary of the Deputy Foreign
Ministers' Preparatory Meeting for the CSCE Madrid
Conference, July 8–9, 1980

The purpose of this meeting of Warsaw Pact deputy foreign ministers, held at Soviet initiative, was to prepare a joint strategy for a CSCE follow-up session in Madrid. That session would begin in 1980 and drag on for over three years. The Soviets' basic goal in Madrid was to weaken NATO politically and undermine support in Western Europe for the Atlantic alliance's military reorganization program. Within the Eastern bloc, this strategy was known as military détente. Moscow was most interested in emphasiz- ing Basket I issues, namely, the basic political–military aspects of East–West relations, and shifting attention away from Basket III, with its human rights content, which was a particularly sensitive issue in the wake of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. This and similar documents show that much of the detail work in hammering out strategies within the Warsaw Pact took place at the level of deputy ministers.

On July 8–9 a consultation of the deputy ministers of foreign affairs of the Warsaw Pact member-states took place in Prague. The purpose of this consultative session, called at the May Political Consultative Committee meeting, was to exchange views and experiences concerning the preparations made to date for the Madrid meeting and to get clarification on the main directions of the next coordinated advance. "…"

All the participants "…" agreed on the character of the intentions of the capitalist states who are preparing to level sharp criticism of the socialist states at the Madrid meeting, in particular of the Soviet Union, based on the provision of international aid to Afghanistan and on the alleged failure to satisfy the Final Act especially in the area of human rights and freedoms. The United States will go farthest in this sort of confrontation while other West European countries with the possible exception of Great Britain and the Netherlands will be interested in not having the confrontation exceed the threshold, which would endanger the essence of détente—in which they are to some extent interested. The participants in the consultation agreed that it is necessary to exploit the non-integrated Western stand on the Madrid meeting and, in this regard, to pay primary attention to the neutral and non-aligned countries, but also to some NATO countries as well as France.

The head of the Soviet delegation, Cde. A. Kovalev, emphasized in his speech that in a situation where the United States and several other countries such as Great Britain were prepared to give the meeting a confrontational character, it would be important, as suggested in Cde. L. I. Brezhnev´s proposal at the Political Consultative Committee, to concentrate, in the course of the meeting, on one or two of the most topical items in every part of the Final Act that serve our interests and can become of interest to other countries as well. "…" Among these matters are:

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