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Report by ČSSR National Defense Minister Martin Dzúr on a Meeting with Marshal Yakubovskii, Commander-in-Chief of the Warsaw Pact Joint Armed Forces, April 24-25, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir. "The
Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 112-113
Original Source: ÚSD, AÚD KSČ, F. 02/1.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: Visiting all the Warsaw-pact countries, commander-in-chief Ivan Yakubovskii, has come on an official visit to Czechoslovakia. This is the report given by The Czechoslovak Defense Minister after the meeting.
Marshal I. I. Yakubovskii, commander-in-chief of the Joint Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact member states, paid an official visit to the ČSSR on 24-25 April 1968.
The visit was part of his tour of all the Warsaw Pact countries.
The talks focused on three groups of subjects:
1. Official introduction to our party and state representatives in his post as commander-in- chief.
2. Consolidation of the military institutions of the Warsaw Pact.
3. Elaboration of the front maneuvers to be held in the ČSSR this year under a plan approved by the Joint Command.
The negotiations had the following results:
Re. 2. In the discussions about ways to strengthen the Warsaw Pact's military institutions, the officials who took part – which in our case was the minister of national defense, Lt. General Dzúr – considered proposals sent to us in advance. Since these proposals bad been discussed on several occasions since 1965, he stated his agreement. His remarks focused on how to resolve three fundamental questions:
a) the nature of the relationship between the Warsaw Pact's military institutions and the supreme party and state bodies of the member states.
The Soviet proposal did not maintain the principle applied in all principle as well as in the treaty itself, to wit, that the armed forces of the member states assigned to the Joint Armed Forces should remain directly subordinated to their national command structures, which are fully responsible for the quality of their combat capability. Certain proposed revisions in the jurisdiction of the pact commander-in-chief were in contradiction to this principle. We therefore proposed adjustments in the pertinent section of the statutes. The commander-in-chief accepted our proposals as totally correct and it was agreed that the commander-in-chief must base his activity not only on the decisions of the Political Consultative Committee, but also at all times on the consent of the governments or defense ministers of the member countries concerned;
b) the appointment of the chief deputies of the commander-in-chief.
The proposal stated that the chief of the main staff of the Joint Command, the commander of the Joint Air Defense Forces, and the-commander of the Technical Committee may be chosen from among the armed forces of any member country. Since no representative of any army, with the exception of the Soviet army, has, the possibility of holding these posts, we proposed that these officials be appointed from among the ranks of Soviet generals;
c) the authority of the Technical Committee.
We insisted on the demand that the proposed authority of the Technical Committee be enlarged to also cover the sphere of military research & development, since the existing state of affairs leads to redundant expenditures of resources by all the member states and to unnecessary waste. Cde. Yakubovskii agreed and promised that this will be taken into consideration in the final formulation of the documents.
All in all, it can be said that full agreement was reached in the discussion of this issue and all our views were taken into consideration. The commander-in-chief declared that our remarks were unequivocally aimed at clarifying and strengthening the content of the proposed basic documents of the treaty in the military sphere.
Our remarks will be incorporated in the more specific drafts of these documents, which will be evaluated once again at the ministerial level of all member states prior to being debated by the Political Consultative Committee.
Re. 3. In the discussions regarding the front operational maneuvers due to be held on our territory, the ČSSR minister of national defense explained why such a step would be untimely. He requested that exercises on this scale be held neither in June as requested by the commander- in-chief, nor at any other point this year. He cited his reasons: our internal political situation as well as the duties now confronting the new army command. He added that after making personnel changes, the command of the Czechoslovak People's Army felt it expedient to take certain internal measures to bring about a cohesion of the commands and staffs and planned to take part in allied front exercises no earlier than 1969.
In conclusion I would like to point out that the talks with the commander-in-chief of the Joint Armed Forces took place in a spirit of full understanding; he received our points of view with an open mind and the negotiations contributed to the clarification of our sincere efforts as well as to the strengthening of mutual relations.