43. Telegram From the Embassy in Czechoslovakia to the Department of State1

604. Fluidity of Czech policy in relation to Western countries in general, and to US in particular, is theme of several reports reaching Embassy in last few days. At least one was almost certainly intended to reach policy-making levels in our government. Reports are premised on disappointment of Czech leadership at results of Moscow visit September, especially in relation to long-term trading needs of Czechoslovakia. (See also our A–1802 and other reports to same effect.) Seemingly planted report (mentioned above) said that Czechs had as result been given blank check to make best arrangements they could with West. Two reports (including Ruzek of MFA speaking with me on October 19) indicated that it was important under present circumstances for US to make positive gesture demonstrating that advocates of such Western orientation will meet with constructive response.

These reports are similar in content (and possibly in original motivation) to one cited in Embtel 652 of 10 November 1964.3 If (as I suspect) they are genuine and really reflect view of significant section of leadership, they may refer only to Czech need for Western wheat. In any case I think it is in interest of long-term US policy towards Eastern Europe to take them at face value and as referring to overall policy. We shall not for long time see here dramatic shift from pro-Soviet alignment, such as occurred in Rumania, but there have been small signs and subtle changes of attitudes which suggest that Czechs, too, are asserting their national interest more than in past. There has been, moreover, striking degree of internal liberalization in past two or three years, and far-reaching reforms in economy are going forward, if somewhat haltingly. We have so far given very little sign that we recognize that there has been any change at all since Stalinist days.

I therefore renew recommendation which I have made through informal channel that we take significant positive step forward such as signature (or other forward-looking action) of long-pending financial-claims [Page 163] agreement or approval of pending application for export license for synthetic rubber technology such as I believe was recently approved for Poland. Both actions would also have certain incidental advantages to specific American interests.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1 CZECH. Confidential. The source text does not indicate a time of transmission; the telegram was received at 7:10 a.m.
  2. Airgram A–180, October 18, reported Czech dissatisfaction with talks in Moscow on economic assistance. (Ibid., POL 7 CZECH)
  3. Telegram 652 from Prague reported the “furious” Czech reaction to the ouster of Khrushchev. (Ibid., POL 15 USSR)