Start of the conversation: 5:35 p.m.
End of the conversation: 6:55 p.m.
BREZHNEV. Aleksandr Stepanovich, I felt the need to speak
with you today. I called you early in the morning and then later in
the day, but you were away the whole time in Karlovy Vary, and then
you called me back, but at that point I had gone to have a talk with
the comrades. Now that I've returned, they told me that you have a
Presidium meeting going on, and so I hope I'm not greatly disturbing
you by having this conversation.
DUBČEK. No, not at all, the comrades already told me that
you wanted to speak with me. I just now got back from Karlovy Vary. I
had a meeting there with Cde. Ulbricht.
BREZHNEV. How did the meeting go?
DUBČEK. I think it went well. Cde. Ulbricht and the comrades
accompanying him returned today to the GDR, and I just finished seeing
BREZHNEV. We have little time, and so let me get straight to
the point. I'm again turning to you with anxiety about the fact that
the mass media in your country not only are incorrectly depicting our conferences in Čierna nad Tisou and Bratislava, but are also
stepping up their attacks against the healthy forces and continuing to
purvey anti-Sovietism and anti-socialist ideas. What I'm referring to
here are not some isolated instances but an organized campaign;
and judging by the content of the materials, these press organs have
come to serve as a mouthpiece for the right-wing, anti-socialist
forces. We in the Politburo exchanged views about this matter and
unanimously concluded that there is every basis for regarding the
unfolding situation as a violation of the agreement reached in
Čierna nad Tisou. I have in mind the agreement you and I reached during our
one-on-one discussions, as well as the agreement we thrashed out
during the four-on-four meetings and the agreement that emerged
between the Politburo of our party and the Presidium of the
Central Committee of your party.
DUBČEK. I already told you what sorts of measures we are
taking to put an end to the anti-Soviet and anti-socialist
manifestations in the mass media. I already told you what sorts of
measures we are preparing and in what sequence we will carry them out.
But I also told you at the time that it's impossible to do all this in
a single day. We need time to take care of it. We're not able to
restore order in the operations of the mass media in just two to three
BREZHNEV. Sasha, that's true, and we warned you at the time
that the rightist forces will not easily give up their positions and
that it would of course be impossible to do everything in just two to
three days. But a lot more time than two to three days has already
passed, and the success of your work in this regard depends on your
willingness to take decisive measures to restore order in the mass
media. Of course if the CPCz leadership and the CSSR government
continue to pursue a policy of non-interference in this matter in the
future, these processes will continue unabated. It's simply impossible
to halt them through a policy of non-interference. You must
resort to concrete measures. This is precisely the point on which we
reached concrete agreement in connection with the role of Pelikán, and
we said that it was essential to dismiss Pelikán. This would be the
first step needed to restore order in the mass media.
DUBČEK. Leonid Ilyich, we studied these questions and are
continuing to study them. I told Cde. Černík what sorts of measures
we'd have to take, and I gave Cde. Lenárt the task of carrying out the
necessary measures. As far as I know, no sorts of attacks have been appearing
recently against the CPSU or the Soviet Union or against the socialist
BREZHNEV. How can you say such a thing when literally all
the newspapers--Literární listy, Mlada fronta,
Reporter, Prace--every day are publishing anti-Soviet and
anti- party articles?
DUBČEK. That was
going on before Bratislava. Since Bratislava that hasn't been
BREZHNEV. What do you mean it was only "before Bratislava"?
On 8 August Literární listy featured an article entitled "From
Warsaw to Bratislava," which was a full-blown, vicious attack against
the CPSU and the USSR and against all the fraternal socialist
countries. The 8th of August, needless to say, was after Bratislava.
That's an isolated case. I don't know of any others. All the rest
appeared before Bratislava. We're opposed to this article and are now
taking appropriate measures.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I can't agree with this. Over the past two
to three days, the newspapers I mentioned have been doggedly
continuing to occupy themselves with the publication of defamatory
ravings about the Soviet Union and the other fraternal countries. My
comrades on the Politburo insist that we make an urgent approach to
you on this matter and that we send you a diplomatic note to this
effect, and I'm not able to restrain the comrades from sending such a
note. But I only wanted to make sure that before a note is sent to you
about this matter, I got a chance to speak with you personally.
DUBČEK. We had a
meeting with members of the press. The session condemned the reporters
at the newspapers you were speaking about for their incorrect actions;
and a decision was reached there to put an end to all polemical
BREZHNEV. Sasha, that's not the point--whether you had a
meeting with members of the press or not. What we agreed about was not
just to hold some meeting. We agreed that all the mass media--the
press, the radio, and the television--would be brought under the
control of the CPCz Central Committee and the government, and that you
would put an end to anti-Soviet and anti-socialist publications after
Bratislava. For our part, we in the Soviet Union are strictly abiding
by this agreement and are not engaging in any sorts of polemics. As
far as the Czechoslovak organs of mass media are concerned, they're
keeping up their relentless attacks against the CPSU and the Soviet
Union and have even reached the point where they've been attacking the
leaders of our Party. They've already been branding us as "Stalinists"
and other such things. And what, I might ask, do you say about this?
BREZHNEV. I think I'm correct in telling you that so far we
haven't witnessed any actions on the part of the CPCz CC Presidium
that would fulfill the obligations taken on in this sphere. I must
candidly say to you, Sasha, that by dragging your feet in the
fulfillment of these obligations, you're committing outright deceit
and are blatantly sabotaging the decisions we jointly reached. This
posture toward the obligations you undertook is creating a new
situation and is prompting us to reevaluate your statement. For this
same reason we are considering new, independent decisions that would
defend both the CPCz and the cause of socialism in Czechoslovakia.
only want to say to you, Cde. Brezhnev, that we are working in this
direction. If you were able to be here among us, you'd see what great
efforts we're expending in this direction. But this is a difficult
matter and we're not able to resolve it in just two to three days, as
I already told you. We need time for this.
BREZHNEV. Aleksandr Stepanovich, I'm also obliged to say
that we're not able to wait much longer and that you shouldn't force
us to open new polemics with your mass media and to respond to all the
articles and activities that are being permitted now in Czechoslovakia
against our country, against our party, and against all the socialist
During the negotiations we didn't force you to agree to anything.
You yourselves took on the obligation to restore order in the mass
media. And once you promised it, you should have been willing to carry
it out. Well, fine, I perhaps can even agree with you that the
restoration of order in this sphere requires time. But how are you
coming along in carrying out the agreement on personnel questions? One
must say that on this matter, too, we had a fully concrete agreement,
and we also settled on a fully concrete timeframe for carrying it out.
would only like to say to you, Cde. Brezhnev, that these are very
complex matters, which can't be resolved as easily as you might think.
BREZHNEV. I understand how complicated these matters are.
I'm only asking you to resolve them along the lines we agreed on at Čierna nad Tisou. Was it not already clear to you
and Černík and Smrkovský and Svoboda, when we met in our four-on-four
sessions, how complex it would be to resolve these matters? Yet at the
time you yourselves very easily and very independently, without any sort of coercion from us, raised these matters and
promised to resolve them as soon as possible.
DUBČEK. I already
told you, Cde. Brezhnev, that this is a complex question, the
resolution of which requires that we convene a plenum. And in order to
examine and resolve these questions, there must be due preparation. I
must consult with the comrades about how best to resolve this
BREZHNEV. But back in Čierna nad Tisou all your comrades
were present, and I don't think you took on all these obligations then
without having consulted among yourselves. We adopted the obligations,
shook hands, and said that the question was decided and that you would
take care of it as soon as possible.
DUBČEK. I didn't
promise to resolve this matter in two to three days. We need ample
preparation in order to resolve the question properly.
BREZHNEV. But it's impossible to keep on resolving these
questions ad infinitum, Sasha. When you were preparing for the last
Presidium meeting, you and I had a conversation. In particular, a
conversation about personnel matters. I'm referring to my conversation
with you on 9 August. At that time you said to me that you weren't yet
ready to handle things at that Presidium meeting, but that you would
definitely prepare these matters and resolve them at the next
Presidium meeting. And now you say that you have a Presidium meeting
under way. So, will you be considering these matters today at this
Presidium meeting, or will you not?
matters can be taken up only by a plenum of the Central Committee.
BREZHNEV. Fine. You also told me that you were preparing to
convene a plenum within the next ten days.
DUBČEK. Yes, we're
thinking about holding a plenum by the end of the month. But it may be
that it won't occur until the beginning of September.
BREZHNEV. But will you be considering personnel questions at
this plenum? Will you resolve them positively, as we agreed at Čierna
DUBČEK. [Gives an
evasive answer to this question, in the sense that what happens will
be whatever the plenum decides.]
BREZHNEV. This is where the problem lies. Both our problem
and your problem. I'll tell you honestly that when you and I were
speaking in Čierna nad Tisou, I thought that I was dealing with the
leader of the chief party organ, the organ that has complete power.
And everything that you promised us we accepted in good faith; and
like friends, we believed you in all you said. Personally, Sasha, I
can't understand at all why and to what end you've deferred the
resolution of these matters until a new plenum, that is, an
extraordinary plenum. We believe that today, at this Presidium
meeting, you could resolve personnel questions; and believe me, you
could resolve them without any great loss. If you place these matters
before the Presidium today, it would still be possible--this would be
the last chance--to salvage matters without great detriment or great
loss. It will be worse if these losses are very large.
insists that these matters can be resolved only by a plenum.]
BREZHNEV. If I understand you correctly, you don't intend to
consider these matters today. I want to ask you directly, Sasha, what
you mean by this, and what I'm getting at here is that you're
deceiving us! I'm not able to regard it as anything other than deceit.
Leonid Ilyich, if you could see how these matters are being prepared
now in the Presidium, you wouldn't talk this way. We promised to
resolve these matters, and we are taking all the measures needed to
resolve them correctly.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I'm not just speaking here personally for
myself. The entire Politburo has instructed me to speak with you and
to ask you concretely: Will you be resolving the personnel questions
DUBČEK. [Evades a
direct answer, explaining that it is impossible to resolve all the
personnel questions at once, that these questions are very complex and
imposing, and that, as he already said, these questions must be
considered by a plenum.]
BREZHNEV. My comrades are interested in finding out, and I
would ask you to let me know so that I can transmit your answer to the
members of our Politburo, what sorts of questions you are thinking of
considering today at the CC Presidium meeting?
DUBČEK. [Enumerates the questions and says that among them
the bifurcation of the Interior Ministry will be considered, as was
agreed at Čierna nad Tisou.]
BREZHNEV. And how is this question to be resolved? Will it
be as we decided? I want to remind you, as you no doubt remember, that
when this question was put to you, you turned to Èerník. Èerník said
to you that the question had already been decided and that a candidate
for the second post had already been designated, and within five days
they would transmit orders about this to Smrkovský. You then turned to
Smrkovský, and he said that as soon as Èerník issued this document,
your Council would resolve the matter within five days.
DUBČEK. Yes, he said that back in Čierna, but now the
situation has fundamentally changed. We now have a process of
federalization under way. There will be a federation of Slovakia with
the Czech lands. And this question simply cannot be decided now by a
central order for the country as a whole until Slovakia and the Czech
Republic separately have adopted the corresponding decisions. For that
reason, we at today's Presidium meeting are able to resolve this
question only as an instruction to the government and minister to
prepare the requisite ideas for the final resolution of this matter
BREZHNEV. How much later?
the month of October, toward the end of October.
BREZHNEV. Well, what can I say to you about this, Sasha,
except that it seems to be yet another manifestation of deceit. This
is just one more sign that you're deceiving us, and I can't regard it
as anything other than that, let me say to you in all honesty. If
you're not even able to resolve this matter now, then it seems to me
that your Presidium in general has lost all its power.
DUBČEK. I don't
see any deceit in this. We're trying to carry out the obligations we
undertook. But we're carrying them out as best we can in a
fundamentally changing situation.
BREZHNEV. But surely you understand that this arrangement,
this way of fulfilling the obligations undertaken at Čierna nad Tisou,
will create a completely new situation which we, too, hadn't reckoned with, and
that this obviously will compel us to reevaluate the whole situation
and resort to new, independent measures.
Brezhnev, you should resort to all the measures that your CC Politburo
believes are appropriate.
BREZHNEV. But if that's how you're going to answer me, I
must say to you, Sasha, that this is a flippant statement.
DUBČEK. I'm not
able to answer in any other way. We're working very hard to carry out
the agreement. But in these conditions over the last week to ten days
we haven't yet fully coped with it. We're not able to do more than
what we've been doing. This is a large matter to deal with, and we're
not able to complete all our work in just 10-15 days. How could it all
be done in such a short time? I'm not able to take responsibility upon
myself for doing everything in just five to seven days; this is a
complex process, which has encompassed the whole party, the whole
country, and the whole nation. And the party must keep control of this
process, bringing the nation along with it in the construction of
socialism. In this we see our duty, and in this we see our obligation,
but it's impossible to do this in as short a time as you are
suggesting, Cde. Brezhnev. With full responsibility I am telling you
that if you don't believe me, if you believe we are deceiving you,
then you should take the measures that your Politburo believes are
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I understand that you're nervous, I
understand that this situation is very complex for you. But don't you
see that I'm talking with you as a friend, and that I wish only the
best for you? If you recall the conversation you and I had one-on-one,
as well as the conversation during our four-on-four sessions, and when
you proposed your measures for restoring order in the mass media, it
was we, not you, who pointed out that this would not be an easy task
and that it would take time to bring the mass media back under control
because the rightists had planted their agents everywhere, literally
everywhere. In all the outlets of the mass media and information
organs the rightists are firmly implanted, and the whole arrangement
is being masterminded by Pelikán, Císař, Kriegel, and other
scoundrels. But you at that time, in Čierna nad Tisou, said you could
handle this work and that you didn't need any sort of help from us. We
firmly agreed then that after Bratislava we would put an end to all
polemics. I can understand that you're having difficulty, but the one thing I don't
understand is why you've done nothing to overcome these difficulties.
For example, let's turn back to the personnel questions. Again one can
say that during the Čierna talks you also, without any pressure from
us and completely of your own free will, said to us that you would be
resolving all these questions literally as soon as possible.
DUBČEK. I can't
just resolve these matters myself. It's not so simple, Cde. Brezhnev,
to resolve such matters.
BREZHNEV. Well, how simple it was back in Čierna nad Tisou to have a conversation, and are you now
really implying that those were just irresponsible conversations at
the level of the two highest organs of the leadership of the party? If
it's clear that some question or other
is difficult to resolve, then we
shouldn't have had completely irresponsible discussions about it.
That's how I understand this matter. It's impossible to overstate,
Sasha, how irritated I am by what you're doing now. You and I spoke
about very important and very far-reaching matters, which will decide
the fate not only of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, but also
of the whole socialist camp. I'm not demanding anything new, and I
haven't raised a single new issue for you. I only want to get from you a firm indication of when you're thinking of fulfilling the
obligations about which we agreed at the meeting in Čierna nad Tisou.
You have to understand that this isn't the way things are done--to
have two fraternal parties meet and adopt a decision, and then just 10
days later have one side change its tune.
DUBČEK. We aren't
changing our tune, it's just that the situation is complex and it
requires a prolonged amount of time to carry out the agreement that
BREZHNEV. Well, fine, Sasha, then permit me to ask you openly and directly one additional question. Do
you personally support the notion of fulfilling the obligations which
you undertook at Čierna nad Tisou, or not?
DUBČEK. There will be a plenum, Leonid Ilyich, the plenum
will decide everything.
BREZHNEV. When will the plenum be?
DUBČEK. This question, I believe, will be resolved by us
today in the Presidium meeting. I think we'll convene a plenum before
the end of the month. But I can't give you a precise date because if I
don't get it right and the Presidium schedules the plenum at a time
different from the one I tell you, you'll again accuse me of having
given you an insincere answer. This is difficult for me, Cde.
Brezhnev, I still have a Party Congress ahead and I am completely
unprepared for this Congress.
BREZHNEV. That's an entirely different matter. But by the
way, since you've raised it, let me convey to you my personal view on
this matter. I have participated in many congresses, and I've already
conducted one congress independently as the first secretary of our
party. I personally can't imagine how it is possible to prepare a
congress in such a short time. After all, the congress resolves
weighty questions in the life of the party, and you must seriously
prepare for such things, without any slip-ups. I'm surprised that you
would even think a congress could be prepared in such a short time.
But this, as they say, is your own affair. I've digressed from our
DUBČEK. Yes. That's right, but since we have to deal with
the situation as it exists, we are working night and day to prepare
for the Congress. We have an Action Program, draft party statutes, and
personnel questions. In general, I think, we will succeed in preparing
for the Congress.
BREZHNEV. Let's return to the thrust of our conversation. I
don't know whether you'll be able to let your comrades on the
Presidium know about our conversation and tell them about the anxiety
I've expressed to you at the way the situation is unfolding.
DUBČEK. I absolutely, without delay, will tell Cdes. Èerník
and Smrkovský about this.
BREZHNEV. Yes, that's good, you should tell Èerník and
Smrkovský, but I think, Sasha, that the other comrades are also full-
fledged members of the Presidium, and that you're obliged to say
something to them about my phone call. I must tell you, Sasha, that
they are very fond of you and can help you a great deal. I can assure
you that these are your real friends both in their past work--before
the January plenum--and in carrying out the January plenum, and if
you'd really like to know, I think they can help you more than Èerník
and Smrkovský can.
DUBČEK. Right now we already have a different agenda for the
Presidium meeting, but I'll try to find the opportunity to tell all
the comrades about this conversation.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, if I've understood you correctly, you're
saying that at today's Presidium meeting you won't be considering a
single one of the questions we agreed on at Čierna nad Tisou.
DUBČEK. Only the question of the Interior Ministry.
BREZHNEV. But as I understood you, you won't be deciding
even this question the way we agreed--or at least not completely the
way we agreed--in Čierna nad Tisou.
DUBČEK. [Very irritably repeats everything he said earlier
about the difficulties attending the resolution of such matters.]
BREZHNEV. Aleksandr Stepanovich, I regret that you're
talking with me in such an irritable manner. On such momentous issues,
emotions won't do anyone any good. What is needed here are common
sense, reason, and will. Emotions here are of no help at all.
DUBČEK. I would be content to toss everything aside and go
back to working at my old place. Why am I irritated? Because we're
taking action here, we're working, we're doing everything we can to
fulfill the agreement reached at Čierna nad Tisou, and yet the whole
time you're accusing us. This is already the second conversation in
which you've accused me of doing nothing, of deceiving you, and of not
wanting to resolve the matters on which we agreed.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I'd like to believe you, but you must
understand me. What troubles me most of all is that you haven't
dismissed the three whom we agreed to dismiss, and this leaves a very
big question. If you're sincerely convinced that you must release
Císaø, Kriegel, and Pelikán, and that this must be done, then I'm
deeply convinced that a sincere effort on your part would allow you to
do this very easily and simply.
DUBČEK. What reasons do you have for suggesting that this
can be done quickly?
BREZHNEV. We explained these things to you in Čierna nad
Tisou. I'm not even referring here to the things that were not in the
protocol--that is, the things we discussed in our one-on-one or
four-on-four meetings. What I'm referring to are what was discussed in
our plenary sessions, when we were all together. Go take a look at the
stenographic report of my speech at the plenary session. You'll find
there all our views. We directly told Kriegel that he is who he is. We
openly said this at the plenary session. What further basis can you
possibly want, Sasha? Fine, you say that you're not able to resolve
these questions in the Presidium, and that it's necessary to convene a
regular plenum. But from your answers, if you'll forgive me, I didn't
understand whether even at the plenum you'll actually resolve these
matters or not.
DUBČEK. At the regular plenum another CPCz CC First
Secretary will be chosen.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, don't go to such extremes, this sort of
talk is completely unnecessary. I don't know what would prompt you to
speak with me this way; perhaps you feel uncomfortable about speaking
with me more openly, or perhaps someone there is acting as a
constraint on you. Well, then, let's agree that after the Presidium
meeting, Cde. Chervonenko will come to your office and you can tell
him in greater detail when and how you are thinking about resolving
the matters on which we agreed at the Čierna meeting.
DUBČEK. I can say nothing more. I already said everything
there is to say, Cde. Brezhnev, and I can say nothing more to Cde.
BREZHNEV. Then let me ask you to tell me whether you'll be
resolving these matters at the plenum or not.
DUBČEK. And who said that I won't?
BREZHNEV. Again you're evading a direct response. You don't
want to say whether you will or you won't.
DUBČEK. The last time I told you everything, and now I'm
only able to repeat what I said earlier: that we're going to convene a
plenum, that we must prepare for the plenum, and that we need time for
this. If you believe that we're deceiving you, then take the measures
you regard as appropriate. That's your affair.
BREZHNEV. Don't you see, Sasha, that we undoubtedly will
be adopting the measures we believe are appropriate? You're absolutely
correct in saying that this is our affair. But as far as this affair
is not only ours but a matter of common concern, the measures would be
easier for us to adopt if you and your comrades would more openly say
that these are the measures you are expecting of us.
DUBČEK. We're able to resolve all these matters on our own,
but if you believe it's necessary for you to adopt certain measures,
then by all means go ahead.
BREZHNEV. I'm not asking you why you didn't resolve any
particular matter or another. I'm asking you something else, Sasha:
namely, when you plan to resolve the things we agreed on.
DUBČEK. You're not asking me, you're rebuking me.
BREZHNEV. I'm not rebuking you; I'm simply saying that in
the wake of our meetings nothing has changed, and that we don't detect
any sort of concrete actions aimed at fulfilling the agreement that
exists between us. And insofar as that is the case, we are naturally
alarmed. It seems to us that you're simply deceiving us and are
completely unwilling to fulfill what we agreed on so firmly when we
looked one another in the eye, as well as during our four-on-four
meetings. But if you're saying that at the regular plenum you'll
resolve all the matters we agreed on at Čierna nad Tisou, then this of
course will considerably alleviate our doubts. I'm not saying that our
doubts will be eliminated altogether, but at least they'll be
alleviated. After all, we're accustomed to believing you, and we see
in you the leader of a fraternal party whom we can treat with great
DUBČEK. I'd just as soon go where it would be pleasant to
work. I don't set great store by this post. Let whoever wants to
occupy it, take it. Let whoever wants to be CPCz CC First Secretary,
take up the post. I can't work without enjoying support and in a
situation of constant attacks.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I want to tell you openly that you yourself
have created all the difficulties you're referring to. You saw how,
before your very eyes, Císaø and Kriegel installed their people in the
press, radio, and television. These are people who have nothing in
common with the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. You yourself have
created the personnel problem. You yourself have created all the
problems you were mentioning. We didn't create these problems for you.
It's precisely because of you that everything has gotten out of hand,
and that you've lost power. And yet now you're bemoaning it. And I
very much regret that you regard our conversation as an attack against
you rather than a gesture of support. For it is precisely as a gesture
of support that you should regard everything I've been talking about
with you now. This hasn't been an attack against you.
DUBČEK. Leonid Ilyich, I ask you to tell me how this can be.
BREZHNEV. It's hard for me to give you any suggestions. But
I want to tell you that if you continue to operate alone and if you
continue to fluctuate between the leftists and rightists, you won't
end up doing anything. Without the party aktiv you won't do
anything. All around you are so many of your close comrades; they're
good people and good Communists. If you seek out the support of the
party aktiv and rally them around you, there will no longer be
any Císařs and Kriegels. In Čierna nad Tisou we were not inhibited about saying
everything directly to Kriegel's face, without holding back. And yet
you for some reason are still coddling him and kissing up to him.
You, Sasha, should take a close look around. I don't want to name
names for you, but you know the people it would be worthwhile for you
to rely on. By relying on them, you could resolve all your problems. I
again say to you that by telling you this, by having this
conversation, I am simply doing all I can to help you.
Right now we all are living: our party as well as the other
fraternal parties from the Bratislava meeting and the documents of the
Bratislava conference. I'm conveying all our doubts to you as frankly
and openly and directly as I can. Let's just fulfill what we agreed
on, and not an ounce more. As for your question of what will become of
you, I can't give you an answer. If you want us to avoid a
falling-out, let's just fulfill what we agreed on. Let's give an
appropriate Communist rebuff to the rightist forces. You'll have to
strike a blow against them before the Congress. It will have to be a
blow from which they won't recover. Only in that case will the
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia be able to show its best face at the
DUBČEK. And I
suppose you think that I don't want this.
BREZHNEV. No, I don't think so. I believe you, Sasha. I
believe that everything we wish for you is for the best, and that you
will perceive as your duty what you will, while we for our part are
ready to give you any help you need. But I ask you to understand that
if you don't fulfill everything we agreed on--and I emphasize once
again that these were things we agreed on; I'm not raising any new
issues of any sort--then that will be an end to our trust in you. The
whole point of our meeting in
Čierna nad Tisou was to maintain the greatest trust in one another. All of
our decisions were adopted in a spirit of enormous trust, and this is
precisely what obliges us, in the most conscientious manner, to
fulfill everything we agreed on. For a very long time you've been
speaking in detail about the difficulties you've encountered while
trying to carry out the decisions achieved between us and the
agreement we arrived at. But I want to tell you that any question can
always be made more complicated than it should be.
We're not complicating anything; we're simply trying to deal with the
situation that actually exists in our country.
BREZHNEV. Why do you say this? Take this simple matter of
dividing the Interior Ministry. Just as we agreed and as you
yourselves said, this is a simple matter, one that you could resolve
within the next five to ten days. And yet what has happened? You've
because the situation has changed. I told you that neither Èerník nor
I had foreseen that the situation would change. But our underlying
view that such a step should be taken has not changed. We still firmly
adhere to the view that this step should be taken. Only the situation
has changed. But this means that the whole question must be approached
differently. The outcome no longer depends on us alone.
BREZHNEV. Sasha, let me ask you a question: What, if
anything, does depend on your CC Presidium?
Cde. Brezhnev, I once again ask you not to insist that I carry out
this decision, considering that the situation has changed.
BREZHNEV. Indeed I'm not insisting on it. I'm just saying
that you on the CC Presidium are not in control of anything, and that
it's a great pity we weren't aware of that during the meeting in
Čierna nad Tisou. It now turns out that we were discussing things with
an organ that is not in control of anything. It turns out that our
conversation wasn't serious at all.
reasons for holding up the resolution of the matter are simply that
Slovakia is now a federative territory while the ministry is a
union-republic organ, and it's now necessary to follow a whole series
of procedures if we are to settle this question once and for all.
BREZHNEV. I believe you, but you must also understand me.
I'm not able to decide new matters behind the backs of the other
members of my Politburo. I'm not able to give consent to any of your
arguments. From what you've said it turns out that new circumstances
have arisen for you, and so it's now totally unclear whether or when
you'll be fulfilling our agreement about the division of the Interior
Ministry. Doesn't it follow, then, that we have to reassess our whole
agreement? You're aware that we agreed to these things at the very
highest level. You and I spoke one on one. This is a high level. We
also spoke in four-on-four sessions. This was at the level of first
secretaries, the level of chairmen of Councils of Ministers, and the
level of chairmen of Supreme Soviets (or, as you have, a National
Assembly). That is, our talks involved people who should be able to
decide any matter. And it now turns out that these people can't decide
anything. And now you're saying to me: "Take whatever measures the
CPSU CC Politburo believes are necessary." Of course, one must
obviously agree with you that we'll have to take whatever measures we
believe are necessary. And by the way, I wanted to ask you something
about the decisions we adopted during the four-on-four sessions. Did
you convey the results to Cde. Bil'ak and the other comrades who are
close to you?
DUBČEK. Yes, I
informed Cde. Bil'ak about the things we decided during the
BREZHNEV. It's good that you did so, Sasha. These are your
most dependable and closest friends. I would only urge you to rely on
them. By relying on them, you can emerge triumphant. And you won't
even need to wait for a plenum; with their help, you'll be able to
resolve all these matters within the Presidium.
Please wait, nonetheless, Leonid Ilyich, until the plenum.
BREZHNEV. Well, if this plenum is held soon, then of course
I'll wait, and we all will wait.
Ilyich, I well understand your benevolent intentions, and I only ask
that you take into account the difficulties we are facing.
BREZHNEV. I very clearly see your difficulties, Sasha, but
you must put up a struggle against these difficulties. The struggle
against them will be successful only under one condition, namely, that
you yourself take direct charge of this struggle. You must surround
yourself with reliable members of the party aktiv, and by depending on
these comrades, you'll be able to overcome your difficulties.
running out of steam; it wasn't by chance that I told you that the new
plenum would choose a new secretary. I'm thinking of giving up this
work. Dear Leonid Ilyich, I ask that you forgive me for perhaps having
spoken somewhat irritably today, I very much hope that you'll forgive
BREZHNEV. I understand, Sasha, it's your problems and your
nerves. I want you to understand that in the context of what we agreed
on at Čierna nad Tisou, you have to adopt measures and fulfill your
DUBČEK. Our desire
is no less than yours, Cde. Brezhnev, to have these matters
BREZHNEV. Sasha, I take heart at your statement because the
whole point of our conversation has been to help you fulfill these
obligations. But you must also understand what it's like for us; for
us, too, things aren't so easy. We reported back on that agreement to
the plenum and to the Central Committee, and now we find it isn't
being fulfilled. And so the party is asking us, as the leaders, why
this is so. I want you to understand that good relations between our
parties can be preserved only on the condition that there is mutual,
honest fulfillment of the obligations by both sides. I think that you
have no complaints about our party and our Politburo with regard to our fulfillment of the agreement achieved in
Čierna nad Tisou.
DUBČEK. Leonid Ilyich, once again I affirm that we are
not refusing to fulfill the agreement we reached in Čierna nad
Tisou. The whole question is how much time we will be given to fulfill
it, since there was no concrete timeframe specified in the agreement,
and we still need more time to fulfill everything.
BREZHNEV. You shouldn't pose the question that way, since on
every issue a concrete timeframe was stipulated. If we said that this
was all to be decided as soon as possible and before the Congress,
this establishes a well-defined deadline. That's not to imply it all
had to be done in two to three days, but if we say "before the
Congress," then it's clear that everything should be resolved, say, in
DUBČEK. I promise you, Cde. Brezhnev, that I'll do
everything necessary to fulfill our agreement.
BREZHNEV. Good, we'll closely follow the course of events. I
again earnestly request that you pass on my regards to all your
working comrades and that you tell them about the alarm I've expressed
to you. And now, Sasha, I would like to reach agreement with you on
the desirability of continuing our conversations. If you don't want to
meet with Cde. Chervonenko, then let's agree that we'll continue our
conversation after you're done with the CC Presidium meeting. I
understand that it's awkward to have all your comrades sitting there
while you've gone off to have a conversation with me.
DUBČEK. I agree. So let's definitely say that we'll speak
again after the Presidium meeting.