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

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 154: Recollections of Czechoslovak Foreign
Ministry Adviser Jaroslav Šedivý, 1990–1991

Jaroslav Šedivý, an adviser to the first post-communist Czechoslovak foreign minis- ter, Jiří Dienstbier, was involved in negotiations with the Soviets over the withdraw- al of their troops from Czechoslovakia. He also attended the last meeting of the PCC. His memoir provides an excellent account of how the withdrawal was accomplished— essentially by pressing the Soviets when they were most susceptible (see also Document No. 150).

"…" As if fascinated by the success in the media of his foreign policy, Václav Havel turned to the Central European area this time. He invited Polish President "Lech" Wałęsa and "Árpád" Göncz, his Hungarian counterpart, to a conference in Bratislava on Monday, April 9, 1990. He intended to discuss jointly the role of Central Europe in opening up European politics, the eventual coordination of Central European policies with the Soviet Union, including the institutions that ensured the hegemony of that power in Central and East Europe, as well as approaches towards West European structures. An excellent idea, indeed; however, the preparation of the meeting was thoroughly amateurish, if not inadequate.

"…"

These three presidents were well-known, distinguished disputants. Perhaps it would not be necessary to undertake any preparations at all with regard to the original concept of the meeting; the entire original scenario got somewhat out of our hands, however. The Hungarians announced that Prime Minister "József" Antall intended to accompany his president: he would not leave his president unaccompanied in major talks. That implied the participation of our Prime Minister "Marián" Čalfa in the Bratislava delegation. But then, the foreign minister must be present, too! The invitation was subsequently extended to prime ministers, foreign ministers, plus some ten other VIPs; finally, the foreign ministers of Yugoslavia, Italy and Austria were invited as observers.

"…" We at the Foreign Ministry were not too pleased that the foreign ministers had also been invited. There was barely any time left to prepare the conference. All our efforts concentrated on organizational backup, and on elaborating a draft final presidential communiqué. This draft was beyond the capacity of ministry officials. They produced the text with an age-old routine. "…" One of its paragraphs attested to how difficult it was for some of them, as late as the end of April 1990, to get rid of the concept that the Warsaw Treaty should carry on in some way or the other. The idea of there being a chance of reforming the Treaty was still firmly rooted among some ministry officials. The draft final communiqué reads that the Presidents agreed that, "within the context of overcoming the partition of Europe into blocs" the Pact

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