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Report by Soviet Ambassador to Bulgaria A.M. Puzanov on Bulgaria´s Position vis-á-vis Csechoslovakia, August 1, 1968
Our Source: Navratil, Jaromir.
"The Prague Spring 1968". Hungary: Central European Press, 1998, pp. 69
Original Source: AVPRF, F. 059, Op. 58, P. 124, D. 573, LI. 95-96; Vondrová & Navrátil, vol. 2, pp. 150-151.
Translated by: Mark Kramer, Joy Moss and Ruth Tosek
Comment: During two conversations Bulgarian Communist Party leader expresses his views on the situation in Czechoslovakia.
Zhivkov's first remarks:
It’s impossible to trust A. Dubček, O. Černik, and J. Smrkovský. They’re not in a position to change the situation in their country, and eve if they were, they consciously don’t want to change it. We must rely on other forces. In our view, the situation in Czechoslovakia is extremely dangerous. Zionism is making active inroads in other countries as well. It is, one senses, applying enormous pressure on Cde. Kádár. Even here in Bulgaria we’re experiencing some manifestations of it. /…/
You know, that a secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party CC, Cde. S. Todorov, has a Jewish wife. /…/
Her political leaning are unsound. S. Todorov is sufficiently mature and experienced as a political leader, but one sometimes notices the influence of his wife in his comments about certain matters.
Zhivkov's remarks later in the day:
We believe it should be emphasized that regardless of the results from the bilateral negotiations at Čierna nad Tisou, the situation in Czechoslovakia and the whole history and course of events there give no reason to assume that the current leadership of the CPCz will be capable of changing the situation. The BCP CC Politburo reaffirms the opinion it expressed earlier: that if the situation in the ČSSR is to be changed and the communist party and socialist gains are to be preserved, we will have to use all possible and necessary means, including the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact if the situation so demands.
A. Dubček, O. Černik, and J. Smrkovský have offered no guarantees that they will turn events around. They are nationalists and revisionists, who have no love for the Soviet Union.
If we do not succeed in turning events around, this will be a catastrophe; it will be a blow against the Soviet Union, against our socialist countries, against the international communist movement, and against the development of our socialist countries.
What is going on? China broke away, and the same with Albania. The situation is only slightly better with Cuba, Romania, and Yugoslavia.
We cannot and must not give any further ground!
We fully understand the difficulties that will be created within the international communist movement as a result of extreme measures we are being forced to take in Czechoslovakia. But what can we do?
We must clearly recognize how dangerously revisionism is developing in the international communist movement. Take the Italian Communist Party. It is no longer what it was ten years ago; social-democratic views have overwhelmed it. Just because the Italian Communist Party is a mass party does not means it is a truly Marxist-Leninist party.
Or take the French Communist Party, which has fallen strongly under the influence of Zionism.
We believe that the adverse consequences in the international communist movement and the hubbub being stirred up by international reactionary forces will pose only ephemeral difficulties. If we restore Czechoslovakia to the path of socialism, we will strengthen the forces of the Warsaw Pact and the forces of socialism overall.
But if, on the contrary, Czechoslovakia leaves the Warsaw Pact or remains in it and behaves like Romania or some other revisionist state, the forces of the Warsaw Pact will be severely weakened and this will pose a great threat to the GDR, Hungary, and Poland. In the event of war, the Soviet army will end up having to fight not along the Czechoslovak-German border, but along the Soviet-Czechoslovak border.
If events in Czechoslovakia are not turned around quickly and decisively, that will amount to the rehabilitation of Tito. Khrushchev rehabilitated him once, and we did it a second time. And it will seem that Tito is the very best politician in the world.
A delegation from the BCP will be in Bratislava. We regard the forthcoming meeting of six parties to be a purely tactical move. As concerns the course of events in the ČSSR, perhaps nothing will come of it. “But God help us if we are mistaken.” The meeting will be fruitful only if we compel the CPCz leadership to sign a declaration or communiqué that is in the spirit of the Warsaw Letter both in its assessment of events in the ČSSR and in the measures it proposes to remedy the situation.
Our opinion is simple: Force them to capitulate. If they refuse, then we must resort to other, extreme measures.