Brezhnev prompts relief in Warsaw, lingering concern in Prague
The Poles were swift to react to Soviet President Brezhnev's speech in Prague Tuesday -- and their reaction was unconcealed relief. As the Soviet leader's words came over the wires, four party and other official sources displayed a considerably more hopeful mood than has been apparent here since the start of the year. The announcement a little later that Warsaw Pact maneuvers around Poland had ended added a further buoyant touch.Skip to next paragraph
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The Polish officials noted that:
* Mr. Brezhnev was well beyond halfway through his 27-minute speech to the Czechoslovak party congress before he mentioned Poland.
* What he said was not new, was muted in tone, and implied another assurance that the Poles are to be left to sort out their problems themselves.
* The content of the speech was far removed from the sense of tension apparent in the West this week.
Mr. Brezhnev reminded his Czechoslovak audience of their own experience in 1968. He compared it in general terms with the present prolonged unrest in Poland.
Czechoslovakia's victory over the forces of counterrevolution, he said, was "a not inconsiderable contribution to the security of all the fraternal countries. Your own experiences, comrades, showed convincingly that the plans of reaction hold out no prospects of success . . . [though] attempts are being made now with Poland."
Then came the passage welcomed here as reassurance for the Pole's private hopes.
"The Polish communists, I believe," said Mr. Brezhnev, "will manage, with the support of all Polish patriots and adequate measures, to give the necessary rebuff to enemies of the socialist system and . . . will be able to defend the cause of socialism, the real interests of their people, and the security of their motherland."
Speaking privately, a senior Polish source said: "We still do not believe -- even less so now -- that the Soviet Union proposes direct intervention in Poland's affairs. The party is on a better raod after the last plenum [March 19 ]."
Another pointed to the prime place Mr. Brezhnev gave in his Prague speech -- saying he had come to the heart of Europe to make it -- to his call for nuclear disarmament and a halt to deployment of new missiles on the European continent.
Still more, officials are emphasizing the recent visit to Moscow of West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher --given extensive coverage by the news media here -- and the likelihood Mr. Brezhnev will visit Bonn later this year to continue the dialogue. "Someone who is proposing to go to Bonn will not go via Warsaw," another source commented.
The Polish party believes it is gaining a consensus favoring moderation among its own members, in the Solidarity union, and among the public at large. But a firm line is to be expected from now on against "unacceptable" opposition -- or further threats of precipitous strike action -- first through negotiation but finally, if necessary, by what Mr. Brezhnev presumably regards as "adequate measures." Charles Morris reports from Prague:
A complicated psychological pressure campaign is being carried out against the Poles at the Czechoslovak Communist Party congress.
One day the Czech party leader, Gustav Husak, talks of an intensifying crisis and indicates that hard-liners within the Soviet bloc have given up hope that the Polish party can control events in its own country.
Then the headmaster, Leonid Brezhnev, says rather grudgingly the next day at the same congress that he suppose that perhaps after all the Poles may still be able to put their house in order.
There were, however, a lot of tough words in Mr. Brezhnev's speech. Lies, propaganda, and ruses, he said were being used to attack the socialist system and fragment if from within. He referred to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, saying, "You will remember, comrades, from your own experiences that subversive acts against socialism don't succeed."
While he avoided saying he had entirely lost patience with all Polish Communists, Mr. Brezhnev did not specifically refer to the Communist Party by name. Analysts here point out that by talking only of a hope that Polish Communists will be able to overcome their difficulties, the Soviet leader has left himself the option of choosing his own particular Polish Co mmunists to restore order should he so wish.