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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 127: Memorandum of Akhromeev–Kessler
Conversation, March 19, 1988
One-on-one conversations between Soviet bloc officials are often very informative for outside observers because they sometimes take place in an informal setting where the parties are more likely to reveal personal points of view. Here, Soviet Chief of Staff Sergei Akhromeev expands openly on various problems the Soviet Union is facing— economic, administrative and morale-related—to East German Defense Minister Heinz Kessler. Akhromeev evidently supports Gorbachev's reform program, which many of his senior military colleagues vehemently opposed. Yet he also hastens to add that perestroika is not for everyone, and that each socialist country has to find its own way. Akhromeev goes on to explain other recent Soviet actions, such as commitment to unilateral weapons cuts in order to get the arms control process with Washington mov- ing. But he also makes a point of reassuring Kessler that the Soviet leadership is "keep- ing this process firmly in their hands, and that 'Perestroika' does not constitute a threat to socialism."Marshal of the Soviet Union "Sergei F." Akhromeev used his introduction to talk about some problems of the situation in the Soviet Union:"…"
One might say that in the Soviet Union a decisive turn of events has occurred. For objective reasons, not because of subjective personal wishes, a series of especially economic measures must be introduced and implemented. "…"
This is particularly important to eliminate many shortcomings permitted over the last years.
Many "otherwise" loyal party cadres have not been following certain methods of administrative work. There is a lack of interest among people in their work and its results. Working methods practiced thus far are not effective enough. There has always been much wishful thinking, but little of it has been realized.
"…"
Obviously, 'Perestroika' in the USSR is not the universal way to follow for all socialist states. "…"
Each socialist country has to find its own way in these matters. "…"
Obviously this comes with many problems, and our true friends in the socialist countries are concerned about certain phenomena in the Soviet Union. From the vantage point of these comrades, this concern is certainly justified. But he "Akhromeev" wants to emphasize that the Central Committee and Politburo of the CC of the CPSU are keeping this process firmly in their hands, and that 'Perestroika' does not constitute a threat to socialism.

"…"

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