Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Masterpieces of History

 | 
Svetlana Savranskaya
, 
Thomas Blanton
, 
Vladislav Zubok

Documents

Document No. 9: Notes of CC CPSU Politburo Session, January 29, 1987

Traduction de Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1At Gorbachev’s first meeting as general secretary with the leaders of the East European fraternal parties in 1985, his new language was already remarkable (even if his audience did not hear it clearly); but this Politburo session at the beginning of 1987 represents the fullest expression of Gorbachev’s principle of non-interference in Eastern Europe—beyond the repudiation of military intervention. Gorbachev tells his colleagues, “And we should hold more firmly to the principle of each communist party being responsible for what happens in its country. We need this. It is in our interest not to be loaded down with responsibility for what is happening, or could happen, there.” The motive here seems to stem from a growing sense of Eastern Europe as a drain on the USSR, rather than a net asset—its benefit as an essential security buffer, in the Stalinist conception, was beginning to be outweighed by the costs of its economic upkeep. Increasingly, the Soviet Union’s own “economic difficulties” at this stage mean that the West is the only possible source of “state-of-the-art equipment and technology” while the USSR is simply a “spigot” for gas and oil.

2These notes also reveal some of the character of the internal Soviet leadership debate. Yakovlev notes how Soviet reform processes are creating political problems for the East European “friends,” and Dobrynin tries to defend Honecker, and in so doing, may be seen as implicitly criticizing perestroika (“our friends do not know the positive” in it). Gorbachev sees leadership change as inevitable and imminent in Eastern Europe, describing the fraternal leaders there practically as “little Brezhnevs,” but he is not willing to interfere directly to replace them with “little Gorbachevs:” “We cannot assume the position of giving political evaluations or snubbing people. We can have only one kind of influence: through the example of our own actions.” There is no defined strategy in his presentation, however, just a call for “[m]ore contacts, more information” and continued friendship.

_____________________

ON THE OUTCOME OF THE WARSAW MEETING OF CC SECRETARIES FROM CMEA COUNTRIES REGARDING INTERNATIONAL AND IDEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS

3Yakovlev: Our friends are having political troubles because of our XXVII Congress and now because of our Plenum: they don’t know what to do and how to behave with us.

4Dobrynin (he went to Berlin before the meeting—A.Ch.) We should not dramatize nuances in Honecker’s and the SED’s behavior. We have the same position on international issues as they do, except for German-German relations. We should broaden our relationship with the GDR as a counterbalance. Our friends do not know the positive in perestroika very well.

5Gorbachev: We have disagreements with him [Honecker] in the sphere of perestroika. He compares our self-government with Yugoslavia’s: how poorly we know each other, after all! He sees [Mikhail] Shatrov’s play about Lenin as a deviation from the traditions of October. He is unhappy with our treatment of Sakharov.

6(Chernyaev’s note: Aliyev fell asleep a long time ago!)

7Medvedev (he was in Berlin as well—A.Ch.): The SED rejected the slogan “Learn from the Soviet Union How to Win.” The Delhi Declaration was not printed in the GDR. Criticism of the U.S. has been toned down. We should not speak of a separate SED line because there is no SED CC resolution on that. We are talking about divergences and deviations.

8Gorbachev: So far, nothing unexpected is happening. We could have expected this. Those roots go beyond our April Plenum.

9Honecker, Kádár, and Zhivkov—they all have deviations from us. Economic ties with the West have gone very far. That is the result of our economic difficulties. We could not provide them with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, so they got into debt with the West.

10On the political side, our relations on the highest level have slackened while relations between them have become broader. Our approach should be:

11a) To develop the attractiveness of Soviet processes, to show the dynamism of our development and our foreign policy. We cannot respond to their actions by starting down the path of shutting off spigots (gas, oil).

12To pay in currency, if they insisted on it, would be catastrophic for them. It is pointless to shout that we are wrong to give it to them so cheaply. We need to shift to mutually beneficial trade. And we should hold more firmly to the principle of each communist party being responsible for what happens in its country. We need this. It is in our interest not to be loaded down with responsibility for what is happening, or could happen, there.

13b) But we also cannot ignore the other side of the issue. It is ripe for change. They are approaching the moment of changing the leadership. Some leaders have been in power for 35-25-17 years. There is a ton of problems piled up, but at that age it is just physically difficult to deal with those problems. In essence, a struggle is going on in the highest echelons. A process of renewal is underway, and it is happening one way for some and another way for others. We cannot assume the position of giving political evaluations or snubbing people. We can have only one kind of influence: through the example of our own actions. And as we see, the society in these countries has the right reaction toward us. There are nuances in evaluations, they are noticeable. Kádár and Honecker do not believe that our process is irreversible. Husák pays us many compliments, but is against everything new in his country. A caricature appeared on the streets of Prague, which reads “Misha [Mikhail] should deal with them all!” They mean Husák, Štrougal, Bil’ak. Zhivkov said about the preoccupation with campaigns [kampaneishchina]: your Khrushchev caused 1956 in Hungary by his reforms. And now Gorbachev is destabilizing the socialist community. The situation in Bulgaria is tense.

14But we should not be too dramatic. We should not think that they are not our friends anymore. We should remain friends. And we need to react calmly, regardless of what Honecker says. We need to see everything. We should not oversimplify things. We should work in a friendly mode and not aggravate the situation. More contacts, more information.

15[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 2. Opis 2. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Anna Melyakova.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540