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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 104: Transcript of Honecker–Chernenko
Meeting in Moscow, August 17, 1984

This remarkable set of minutes of a meeting between top Soviet and East German lead- ers shows how assertive the GDR had become by this time, and simultaneously the degree to which respect for Moscow's authority had eroded in some East European capitals. At the meeting, Erich Honecker faces sharp criticism from several Soviet lead- ers, including Mikhail Gorbachev, for allegedly succumbing to West German influence. But he defiantly answers the charges and manages to put Soviet party boss Konstantin Chernenko on the defensive. The bluntness of the exchanges is particularly striking for the GDR, which had started out as the most dependent of the Soviet satellites.

"Konstantin" Chernenko: "…" Comrade "Erich" Honecker, "…" the issue concerning development of the relationship between the GDR and the FRG is a question of our common global policy. This question directly affects the Soviet Union and the entire socialist community.

"…"

Comrade Honecker, you did not raise any doubts during the conversation in June. Then you said the GDR fully agrees with the Soviet Union on all international issues. "…" Despite that, there have been declarations about new measures facilitating contacts, and increasing opportunities for visits by FRG citizens and children. These measures are dubious with respect to internal security and represent a one-sided concession to Bonn. Thereby, they enjoy financial advantages, but these are only imaginary ones. In reality, for the GDR this means additional financial dependence on the FRG. "…" We should acknowledge the truth. While Bonn gained some edge on issues relating to the GDR and West Berlin, the GDR did not make progress on any of the big, vital questions.

"…"

It is difficult to understand, no matter how much the GDR has been saying so, how the development of relations with the FRG can possibly limit the damage caused by the deployment of American missiles.

Sure, there are anti-missile, anti-war, groups in the FRG. Even some politicians from the ruling circles hold rational views. However, this does not imply a solution by an all-German "coalition of reason."

"…"

You have complained how the publication in Pravda would have given the West reason to speculate about differences between the Soviet Union and the GDR. In reality the situation is different.

The origins of these speculations do not lie in our publications against revanchism, but in the absence of such publications in the GDR.

"…"

-496-

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