Assess The Importance Of The Political And — страница 2

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Dubcek hinted at more Czechoslovak independence in foreign affairs, which meant that Prague would seek better relations with West Germany. USSR also expressed concern over the following developments: the call for modification of censorship, an increase in the role of Parliament; talk of a socialist market economy and a greater inner-party democracy. Brezhnev saw all these developments as playing into the hands of the West, and perhaps even suspected some Western involvement in the Czechoslovak affairs. This was a major political concern, as Western influence could undermine the ideological unity of the satellite countries. As Brezhnev put it: Imperialism has attempted to weaken the ideological-political unity of the working people in socialist countries… The communiqu of the

Dresden Conference stressed the danger of militaristic and Neo-Nazi activity in West Germany and the need to carry out practical measures in immediate future to consolidate the Warsaw Treaty and its armed forces. Also came a clearly expressed warning to Czechoslovakia, the conference members stated that it was expected of the new Czechoslovak leadership to insure further progress of socialist construction . Dubcek was also advised to seek financial aid from the Warsaw Pact allies, rather than developing economic relations with West Germany. Dubcek had received the first warning from the Soviet Union. Nevertheless he continued to promote freedom of speech and spoke of the need to make the party the servant and not the master of the people. Debate widened and one issue led to

another as the political onion was unpeeled layer by layer… Novotny was replaced by Svoboda on March 29th a new president who supported Dubcek. Another warning came from Moscow, this time not only from Brezhnev, but also from the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Semyonov, who stated that unless Dubcek and Svoboda keep, order Russian troops would intervene. On 31st March of Soviet Minister Marshall Grechko, who empowered 35 000 troops in the country to impose martial law if necessary, arrived at the Red Army headquarters in Czechoslovakia, underlining this threat. According to J. Steele in March Brezhnev still hoped that Czechoslovakia s Communists would block the dangerous trends themselves, provided they were aware of the weakness in their own ranks . This view was sure to

change after the Czechoslovak Central Committee approved of the Action Program on May 5th. If the Soviet leaders did begin by hoping that delaying tactics would resolve the Czech problem, they evidently were disabused of this idea in early April, when the Dubcek regime s new action program was adopted. This program, approved after a week long meeting provided new guarantees of freedom of speech, broader electoral laws, more power for parliament and government versus the party apparatus, greater scope for non-Communist groups, and other economic and political reforms. It was a sixty page document entitled: Czechoslovakia s Road to Socialism , released in a summary form on April 9th. The Action Program confirmed Moscow s fears. USSR approved of order above all things, therefore the

situation in Czechoslovakia appeared so dangerous. It was unpredictable. Up to this moment, the Soviets maintained a cautious attitude towards Czechoslovakia, the press kept quiet about the situation. The Action Program though was regarded by the Soviet leaders as a dangerous departure from orthodoxy that ultimately might threaten the basis of party s legitimacy everywhere, the Soviet Union included. It became clear that to stop reforms, USSR would have to take a harder stand on the issue. Dubcek and his followers weren t controlling the situation, at least not in the way Kremlin felt it needed to be controlled. On April 12th for the first time the press commented on the situation. Pravda condemned rightist excesses that allegedly were showing up in Prague. Already at this point,

USSR felt threatened by the extent of reforms taking place in Czechoslovakia, though at first there was a certain degree of support for the new leadership, Moscow was longer certain about Dubcek s intentions and felt the need to somehow influence the situation in Prague. The Czechs realized the need to assuage Moscow s doubts, and Dubcek went to Moscow in early May. The following was said by Josef Smirkovsky (Chairman of the Czech parliament): We must understand the fears of the Soviet Union which has in the mind not only Czechoslovakia, but also the security of the whole socialist camp. Even so, the Soviet comrades declared [on Dubcek s visit to Moscow] that they do not want and will not interfere in Czechoslovakia s internal affairs. Possibly Czechoslovakia was getting the