Hungary and the Warsaw Pact, 1954-1989:
Documents on the Impact of a Small State within the Eastern Bloc
by Csaba Békés
- Hungary and the First Years of the Warsaw Pact: Joining, Quitting, Low Budget Integration
- The Impact of the Berlin Crisis on Hungary
- East-Central Europe and the Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis
- Hungarian-Soviet Relations at the Beginning of the Brezhnev Era
- The Organizational Transformation of the Warsaw Pact
- East-Central European Lobbies and the German Question
- Hungary and the Prague Spring
- The Road to Helsinki, 1966-1975
- Why Was There No Second Cold War in Europe?
- Hungary as Forerunner of Gorbachevs Foreign Policy, 1980-1985
- Gorbachev and Political Transition in Hungary
- The Restructuring of the Warsaw Pact and the Issue of Neutrality
- Arms Reduction and the Withdrawal of Soviet Troops from Hungary
|Note: For your convenience, the documents indicated in the text lead you directly to the respective original document. If you are interested in the archival information, please consider the collection entry page "Hungary and the Warsaw Pact, 1954-1989".
Research aiming at the exploration of Hungarian archival sources concerning the Warsaw Pact started in 2000 in the framework of cooperation between the Parallel History Project on NATO and the Warsaw Pact (PHP) and the Cold War History Research Center in Budapest. The research project focuses on four main aspects concerning the activity of the Warsaw Pact: 1) Political cooperation and coordination; 2) Military cooperation; 3) Military industry; 4) NATO and Warsaw Pact perceptions of the opposing organization.  The first result of the project, a large collection of Hungarian military documents edited by Imre Okváth, was published online on the PHP website in October 2001.
This publication presents twenty-five representative documents on Hungary's role on the political coordination process within the Warsaw Pact. The documents have been selected from many thousands of pages of material on the topic collected from the Hungarian National Archives. 
In the introduction I have not aimed at giving a detailed account of the selected documents, neither have I tried to offer a systematic presentation of the Hungarian position from meeting to meeting in the long period under survey. Instead of this I have concentrated on creating a historical context for Hungary's participation in the Warsaw Pact that would no only help the reader analyze the documents but also understand how the Hungarian leadership reacted to the main problems and challenges concerning the Warsaw Pact's functioning as well as key issues in international politics during more than three decades. Although this publication is aimed at presenting mainly the Hungarian position, I am confident that both the introduction and the documents will effectively prove that the role of the Warsaw Pact member states was much more significant in shaping the general policy of the Eastern Bloc than previously assumed. 
The establishment of the Warsaw Pact brought the first "spectacular" role for Hungary as a member of the Soviet Bloc on the stage of world politics. On 23 October 1954, parallel with the signing of the so called Paris treaties about West Germany's entry to NATO Soviet foreign minister, Viacheslav Molotov proposed that the foreign ministers of the four great powers should start preparatory talks for the convening of an all European security conference. After the West rejected the idea without serious consideration, Moscow threatened to convene such a conference on its own. To demonstrate the sovereign status of their East European allies, the Soviets asked Czechoslovakia and Hungary to join them in publicly calling for the conference. At the meeting, held with the participation only of the East Bloc countries in Moscow from 29 November to 2 December in Moscow, a decision was made that should the Paris treaties be ratified, the Soviet bloc states would take necessary steps to strengthen their security.
On 5 May 1955, the Political Committee of the Hungarian Workers Party discussed the draft treaty of a military alliance received from Moscow. The Hungarian leaders had only one serious concern: they predicted that after the signing of the state treaty with Austria, the Soviet troops would be withdrawn from Hungary and Romania. Obviously having no reliable information about Soviet intentions they were seriously disturbed by this eventuality. Therefore, it was decided that the Soviets should be asked to leave at least one army corps in Hungary to safeguard the country's security.
The worry turned out to be premature since Moscow had no intention at all of pulling out their troops from the region at that time.
1956: Leaving the Alliance
The Hungarian revolution that broke out on 23 October 1956 meant the most serious challenge for the Soviet empire since the defection of Yugoslavia in 1948. Until the end of October, the Soviet leaders were trying to solve the crisis by a combination of military and political means, hoping for the success of the Imre Nagy government in restoring order in a peaceful way. By the end of the month, however, Moscow had to realize that due to the extremely dynamic democratization process taking place in the whole country, there was a higher chance for maintaining the communist regime in Hungary with an intervention. Accordingly, on 31 October the CPSU Presidium made a decision on launching "Operation Whirlwind," the code name for the second Soviet intervention that started on 4 November.
Therefore, while on 30 October, as a result of an agreement between the two sides, the Soviet troops left Budapest, starting on 31 October more and more new Soviet troops were entering the country, occupying the most important strategic points, surrounding the cities and taking hold of all the airports. The answers given by Soviet Ambassador Yurii Andropov on the protest of the Hungarian government made it obvious that a new Soviet invasion aimed at cracking down on the revolt and overthrowing the legitimate Hungarian government was looming large. It was in this hopeless situation when, at its session in the afternoon on 1 November the Hungarian government took a radical step, and unilaterally denounced the Warsaw Pact and declared the country's neutrality.
Indeed, by the beginning of November the situation had become so hopeless, concerning the chances of containing the democratic changes at a level that would have been still tolerable for Moscow, that no measure of the Hungarian government could have made it even worse. Thus, the views holding that the denouncement of the Warsaw Pact and the declaration of neutrality were inconsiderate and hasty steps challenging the second Soviet invasion, prove to be unsound. Quite the contrary, this grave decision was a consequence and not a cause of the Soviet move. The paradox of the situation is that the decision made by the government on 1 November was just as rational as the demand on the part of the revolutionary public towards the Imre Nagy cabinet to take such a step was irrational and unrealistic. 
Khrushchev and Kádár
In the period following 1956, the serenity of the Soviet-Hungarian political relations – in addition to the Hungarian leadership's constantly loyal behavior – was assured above all by the especially close friendship between Nikita Khrushchev and the Hungarian leader János Kádár. In spite of their quite different characters, their ideas concerning the modernization of the functioning of the Communist dictatorship were so similar that of all Soviet Bloc leaders, Kádár was the most capable of identifying himself with Khrushchev's policy.  On the other hand, due to Kádár, Hungary soon became a model state for Khrushchev, which realized the highest achievements in destalinization among the Warsaw Pact countries  and Khrushchev could boast about: only a few years after 1956, the political stability was total, while living standards were continuously rising.
Hungary enthusiastically supported Khrushchev's initiatives on disarmament, because Kádár basically considered the army as an inevitable burden, and endeavored to spend the least on defense issues. He was well aware that the increase of the defense budget would seriously endanger his living standards policy aiming to pacify the society. In fact, he expected the Soviet Union to assure Hungary's security, since it was evident for him that even the joint forces of the smaller Warsaw Pact allies did not represent a significant power against NATO. Therefore, the Hungarian leadership was constantly relying on the massive economic reconstruction following the 1956 "counterrevolution" as well as the raising of the standard of living in order to ensure political stability in the country. This way they could achieve a temporary special status whereby Hungary was allowed to have a significantly lower defense budget than the other Warsaw Pact member countries. 
Hungary was primarily impacted by the Berlin crisis and the related Warsaw Pact resolutions in three key areas.
After the erection of the Berlin Wall, Hungary could no longer avoid involvement in the army development and modernization campaign ordered by the PCC at its session in March 1961 and reinforced by the conference of the party leaders of the East-Central European countries held in Moscow between 3 – 6 August; the country had to eliminate its backlog, and do it in an accelerated pace. Hungary's "most favored" status was definitely over.  The army headcount was increased from the 78,000 approved in March 1961 to 85,000, then a further increase was decided in September 1962. The targeted headcount was 88-90,000 after the fall of 1965, and 92-95,000 until 1970.  The key directions of army development were also identified: the anti-aircraft defense and the armored forces were to be developed primarily. It turned out that the weaponry of the Hungarian army as well as its organizational structure were extremely obsolete, therefore a new army command had to be established by dividing and reallocating the functions of the Ministry of Defense, in order to increase military efficiency. In addition, referring to the tense international situation, all these steps were to be executed in a short time: thus the new organizational structure of the army was already established on 3 August 1961.  Marshal Grechko, the Supreme Commander of the Warsaw Pact Unified Armed Forces also indicated that the Hungarian army might potentially be equipped with missiles with nuclear warheads in the foreseeable future. 
The Berlin Crisis and Hungary's Economic Prospects
In addition to the restructuring of the army, the Hungarian party leadership was also concerned about the future development of economic relations. The possibility of an economic war projected by the Berlin crisis seemed to endanger the favorable development of the economic relations maintained with the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG). At the HSWP CC session on 1 August 1961 János Kádár stated that approx. 30% of the country's foreign trade was conducted with western countries, and one quarter of that volume involved the FRG. In other words, the FRG was Hungary's most important economic partner.  "Of course, this is what the German issue means for us" pointed out János Kádár the core of the problem in a CC session two months before.  Eventually, the western embargo was not implemented and contrary to the expected course of events, the economic relations with the FRG have gained even more significance in the following years.
Government Centralization in the Course of the Preparation for a Period of Persistent Tension
The Hungarian leadership expected that the Berlin crisis would lead to the development of a persistent tension in international politics and especially in the East–West relationship and reacting to the new situation would mean a more complex task than previously. They forecasted that an East-West "economic war" would encumber the development of Hungary's key western economic relations, and the lost foreign trade with the FRG would be especially difficult to replace with co-operation to be established with other countries. In order to be able to conduct a Hungarian foreign policy that would also meet the requirements of this new international situation, government centralization was implemented. In the new government formed on 12 September 1961, János Kádár took over the post of Prime Minister from the aging Ferenc Münnich, thus reuniting party leader and Premier functions and bringing back the model applied between 1956 – 1958, which had seemed temporary at the time. The post of minister of foreign affairs was assigned to János Péter a former protestant bishop, who had much more wide-ranging international (especially western) connections than his predecessor, and who proved to be the most ambitious and imaginative Hungarian foreign affairs leader of the Cold War era during his time in the ministry (1961–1973).
The Warsaw Pact member countries learned a serious lesson from the Cuban missile crisis, as they suddenly realized the extent of their defenselessness. It was especially hard for them to understand, that if the Soviet leaders had considered the Berlin crisis, which had generated significantly lower international tension, important enough to hold regular consultations with the allies, then how it could have happened that a third world war had nearly broken out while the members of the eastern military bloc just had to stand by and wait for the denouement without any substantial information. Had they known that, contrary to the claims of Khrushchev's propaganda, it was not the Soviet Union, but the United States that had a significant, approximately triple superiority with respect to intercontinental missiles at the time! It was the Romanian leadership that drew the most radical conclusion from the case: in October 1963, the Romanian foreign minister, requesting utmost secrecy, informed his American counterpart that Romania would remain neutral in the case of a nuclear world war. On the grounds of this standpoint, he requested the Americans not to set Romania as a target for a nuclear strike.  Thus the Romanian 'trend' of conducting a deviant policy, which had appeared in the economic area as early as 1958 and was officially admitted in 1964, can be attributed, at least to a significant extent, to the impact of the Cuban missile crisis.
The Polish leadership was equally indignant at the events, furthermore, they considered, that the Soviet leaders did not understand the significance of the affair; therefore they would continue to regard preliminary consultations as unimportant. Among other things, the Polish leaders objected to Moscow's lack of consultation with Warsaw Pact member countries concerning the nuclear test ban treaty, especially since they had to sign it as well after the contract had been concluded. During his negotiations in Budapest in November 1963, Gomułka stated that Cuba intended to join the Warsaw Pact, which would pose a significant threat to the security of the eastern bloc as well as world peace. Therefore he firmly stated that should the request be officially submitted, Poland would veto Cuba's admission. The Polish leaders saw the solution in intensifying preliminary consultation within the Warsaw Pact, and significantly boosting the political role of individual member states. 
Although the Hungarian leadership was much more cautious in criticizing the Soviet behavior than the Poles, it basically agreed with the Polish views pertaining to the nature of the future co-operation within the Warsaw Pact. It was clearly indicated by the fact that Kádár, during his visit in Moscow in July 1963, proposed to establish a Committee of Warsaw Pact Foreign Ministers, long before the plans to reform the Warsaw Pact were officially placed on the agenda in 1965 – 1966.  The clear objective of the initiative was to place the Soviet leadership under the pressure of necessity for consultation and information provision as well as to enforce the multilateral nature of the decision making process. Kádár clearly stated to Khrushchev that "the question is that there must not be a case when the Soviet government publishes various statements and the other governments read them in the newspaper....
I thought of a preliminary consultation. I have also told [Khrushchev], that experience showed it is better to dispute sooner rather than later".  The proposal was rejected by the Soviet leaders - who, nevertheless themselves came forward with this idea two years later – with the pretext, that at a time when a "sovereignty disease" broke out, the reaction of the member states would be wrong, and they would only misunderstand the intention.
Following Khrushchev's replacement in October 1964, Kádár clarified and acknowledged to his satisfaction that there would not be any negative changes in the relations between the Soviet Union and Hungary. In exchange for its loyalty, the country could expect to maintain its relative internal independence and further Soviet economic assistance may also be provided on an individual case basis.  In this period, the Hungarian leadership was playing the role of the loyal, predictable and reliable ally, and regularly consulted with the Soviet leaders in all key issues. Since opening to the West was also in the Soviets' interest, Hungary began to play an important role in the process resulting in the approach of the eastern and western parts of Europe. Besides Bulgaria, Hungary was the most loyal member of the group of "closely co-operating socialist countries" (i.e.: all except Romania  ) being formed within the Warsaw Pact at this time. The Hungarian strategy was based on the concept that the current Soviet standpoint should always be supported, or at least one should not openly take steps against it. Therefore, they primarily tried to enforce Hungarian interests and to harmonize standpoints through bilateral Hungarian-Soviet negotiations. However, this did not mean that the Hungarian behavior was passive within the Warsaw Pact. The Hungarian leadership often made independent initiatives, but only if they knew that they were not contrary to Soviet intentions at least, or if they could best assume that their proposals did not contradict the currently valid Soviet political line.
The organizational transformation and the institutionalization of the Warsaw Pact have been on the agenda from the very beginning. As early as in the PCC session in Prague in January 1956, a decision was made that a Committee of Foreign Ministers and a Permanent Secretariat should be established as a subsidiary organ of the PCC. Nevertheless, it took the Soviet leaders a long time to discover what they could use this organization for, because Khrushchev's original plan to use the Warsaw Pact for negotiation and bargaining with the West failed. Although the Romanian deviant tendencies did not bolster the intensification of co-operation, the Warsaw Pact, by the mid and late 1960s – even within the given organizational framework – became a multilateral consulting, decision-support and decision-making organization of the Eastern-bloc countries. However, the operational efficiency of the organization was satisfactory neither for the Soviet leaders nor for the member states, therefore – especially after the Cuban missile crisis – the efforts to reform the Warsaw Pact appeared increasingly resolutely. As mentioned above, in June 1963 – in the pretext of the "sovereignty disease" – Khrushchev still automatically rejected Kádár's proposal to establish a Committee of Foreign Ministers. Hardly half a year later, however, on 2 January 1964 – referring to such demands for consultation from "individual sister parties", that is, those of the Hungarian and Polish parties, he himself made a proposal for the organization of regular meetings of the foreign ministers or their deputies.  The first meeting of the deputy foreign ministers took place in Warsaw in January 1964 and consequently they held one or two sessions annually. Their main task was to prepare the PCC meetings. These meetings were the most important forum of the consultation of foreign policy and co-operation within the Warsaw Pact until 1976, the formation of the Committee of Foreign Ministers. 
However, the issue of the organizational transformation of the Warsaw Pact was placed on the agenda in official form only at the PCC session of January 1965 in Warsaw.  As a result of the resistance of the Romanian leaders opposing the transformation without any consideration, besides the discussion of the issue, no real decision was made at this time, although all parties but the Romanians supported the Soviet proposal to form the Committee of Foreign Ministers. They also discussed the work of the Supreme Command of the Unified Armed Forces and in spite of the fact that the majority of the member states had been insisting on making important organizational changes in this field for a long time, no decision was made in this matter due to the Romanian opposition. The main strategic aim, i.e. the demonstration of a unified Warsaw Pact standpoint against NATO's plan to establish a multilateral nuclear force created a favorable situation for the deviant Romanian policies, and the Soviets eventually gave up trying to enforce the organizational changes in return for the Romanian approval.
The session of the PCC held in Warsaw can, however, be considered as a milestone in the history of the organization. This was the first occasion that the body pursued real exchange of views about the most important current matters and the decisions were not made the same way, i.e. according to the agenda proposed by the Soviets, as it had been the custom before. The fact that this was the first session of the PCC after the replacement of Khrushchev in October 1964 also played a significant role in this development. The representatives of the member states presumed that the new and "young" Soviet leadership bearing consequently lower respect would be essentially more flexible to the member states' efforts to obtain a greater influence in the organization. Therefore, following the session of the PCC in Warsaw the member states continued to enforce the organizational changes, especially concerning the military organization.
However, daily co-operation was hampered by the fact that important issues concerning authority and organization had not been clarified and the current co-ordination practice – i.e. a manual control from Moscow – did not enable the leadership of national armies to execute any complex tasks. Not to mention the fact that in case of war practically no co-operation model or regulation existed, and this situation – especially after the crises of Berlin and Cuba – did not seem to be reassuring. Thus, those member states of the Warsaw Pact being ready for the modernization of the organization and strengthening co-operation were interested in the development of a more effective and democratic structure in which the countries may obtain a significantly more serious role. These countries were thinking along the lines of such half reforms for the execution of which the Soviets showed at least some willingness. The Romanians however – on an all-or-nothing basis – insisted on the full "democratization" of the Warsaw Pact. As there was not too much chance to achieve that goal, the Romanians were interested in maintaining the existing structure since it was much more suitable for the validation of their particular policy.
The Hungarian leadership insisted on the transformation of the military organization of the Warsaw Pact and the Hungarian delegation put forward a proposal for it already at the PCC session in July 1963. Minister of defense Lajos Czinege reported to the HSWP PC in November 1964 that he had attempted to raise the problems directly at the Supreme Command without success.  After the question had been officially put on the agenda at the session of the PCC in Warsaw in January 1965, the HSWP PC discussed the matter on 27 April 1965.  The HSWP PC accepted the report and the proposals of the minister of defense concerning the organizational changes. The main articles of the report are enlisted as follows:
1) It is unacceptable that the commander-in-chief of the Supreme Command is the deputy minister of defense of the Soviet Union at the same time and that the deputies of the commander-in-chief are the ministers of defense of the member states, i.e. they are subordinated to the deputy minister of another state. For that reason a Soviet general, having no post in his own country is to be assigned as commander-in-chief. The deputies of the commander-in-chief are to be assigned from generals, having no other post at home, delegated from the member states. 2) The Military Council of the armies of the member states shall be established as a joint leading organization, the members of which may be the ministers of defense of the member states, perhaps also their chiefs of the general staff, as well as the deputies and the headman of the commander-in-chief. 3) To assist the commander-in-chief a properly organized and composed staff is to be set up. 4) The organizational regulation of the Military Council and staff of the Supreme Command is to be worked out in order to fix their duties and sphere of authority. János Kádár made these proposals known before the Soviet leadership, and they accepted a significant part of the suggestions. This way the Hungarian reform draft concerning the military organization of the Warsaw Pact served as base for the development of a common standpoint of the closely co-operating parties; therefore, its main paragraphs were included in the "draft resolution" elaborated for the session of the PCC to be held in July 1966 in Bucharest.  The question of the political reform of the Warsaw Pact however fell victim to a further separate bargain of the Soviets with Romania, the stake of which was the proposal for the convocation of a European security conference. Thus, the discussion about the organizational reform prepared at the cost of hard work had been taken off the agenda of the PCC session just before the meeting started.
The transformation of the political organization of the Warsaw Pact was discussed again in the session of the deputy foreign ministers in February 1966 in Berlin, held after the session of the PCC in January 1965.  At a subsequent summit meeting of the party first secretaries held on 7 April at the time of the XXIII. Congress of the CPSU in Moscow it was decided that the issue should be submitted to the next session of the PCC. After the meeting, the GDR leadership summarized the proposals of the member states and the summary was sent to the sister parties in June. Based on this letter, the meeting of the foreign ministers held in Moscow in June was charged with agreeing on the definitive proposals. The closely co-operating parties proposed holding the sessions of the PCC in regular intervals, establish a Committee of Foreign Ministers as well as a Permanent Secretariat with headquarters in Moscow. These proposals were all rejected by the Romanians and agreement was only reached in a few issues of lesser importance: 1) The sessions of the PCC would be held in the capitals of the Warsaw Pact subsequently. 2) On the basis of a prior agreement, representatives of states being not members of the organization may be invited as observers. 3) The preliminary agenda of the PCC session and the concerning matters should be sent to the member states in due time. 
The HSWP PC discussed the matter of the transformation of the Warsaw Pact during its sessions of 21 and 28 June 1966. On the basis of the experiences acquired during the meeting of foreign ministers in Moscow, János Péter announced that as far as the session of the PCC to be held in Bucharest in July was concerned, no result could be expected since a stalemate situation had developed concerning the reform.  The planned changes could not be realized because of the Romanian opposition. In addition to this, the problem was caused partly by the fact that the Statute of the Warsaw Pact, signed in 1955, did not meet the current requirements since it identified the PCC as a consultative body and not as a decision-making organ. Thus, the Romanians had formal right to insist on the original interpretation – concluded the foreign minister. The PC members forecasted that the Soviets would probably make efforts to reach a compromise with the Romanians in Bucharest so that the PCC could accept the declaration concerning the European security conference on the basis of the Soviet proposal.
The members of the HSWP PC perceived it correctly that a new situation developed in the Warsaw Pact. The Romanians formerly hindered and encumbered the work of the organization several times, but in order to maintain unity, both parties refrained from an open disagreement even at the closed forums of the Warsaw Pact. Now several PC members considered the conflict as inevitable, and it was suggested that the Romanians should be provoked to openly express their standpoint at the beginning of the meeting during a closed session. Others proposed to postpone the meeting. Gyula Kállai objected to the fact that the Soviet Union granted too many concessions to Romania and there was an opinion that it would not really matter if Romania did not sign the declaration. In spite of these facts the HSWP PC made a decision based on János Kádár's proposal that the most important goal in the given circumstances was to further maintain the appearance of unity, that is the Warsaw Pact should not issue a declaration without Romania.
The events were developed as forecasted by the HSWP PC – in order to obtain a compromise the question of the organizational transformation was taken off the agenda of the PCC's Bucharest session in the last minute. We can state that from that time on the effort to reform and make the organization operational remained ever-present and acute problems until the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991. Essential changes were effected only in 1969 and 1976 by the establishment of the Committee of Defense Ministers and the Committee of Foreign Ministers, respectively. 
Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria – unlike the GDR, Poland, and Czechoslovakia – had no serious unsettled issues with the FRG. These states were definitely interested in economic co-operation, increasing trade and taking over cutting-edge technologies, therefore they were the primary victims of the lack of diplomatic relations with West Germany. It was increasingly difficult for them to identify unconditionally with the interests of the "problematic" bloc within the Warsaw Pact, since the public opinion in their countries had difficulties accepting the fact that the country could not establish diplomatic relations with its most important Western economic partner.
Based on the so called policy of small steps, the FRG initiated preliminary talks in April 1962 and then conducted official negotiations with Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria concerning the mutual establishment of commercial missions since September. During fall 1963, they agreed with all four states on the establishment of the missions – although without diplomatic rights –, which led to a significant improvement in the economical relations of the coming years.
The first spectacular step of the slowly but permanently changing West-German Ostpolitik was the issuance of a so-called peace memorandum in March 1966 in which the government declared its intent to renounce the use of force in international relations and expressed its constructive attitude concerning the development of East-West relations. At the summit meeting of the leaders of Warsaw Pact member parties held in Moscow on 16-22 October 1966, Gomułka proposed consultation among the Warsaw Pact foreign ministers in order to elaborate a common standpoint about the West German initiative. 
Romania however, did not support the idea of the talks, while the Soviet leadership had no intention to convene the meeting without the Romanians in order to maintain the appearance of unity at any cost. However, in just a few months, Warsaw Pact member states had to face such a new challenge for which they were not prepared at all.
The new West German government formed in 1966 by a broad coalition – in which the SPD acquired governing position for the first time – initiated secret preliminary talks with four countries, i.e. Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in order to establish diplomatic relations. This step indicated a radical turning point in the foreign policy of the FRG since it would clearly have meant giving up the Hallstein Doctrine. In return for this significant concession, the FRG asked to consider the model of Moscow as the base of the settlement of the relations, i.e. neither of the parties should set preconditions. That is, the Eastern European partners had to tacitly accept the long-standing FRG position concerning the German question. At this time, it was high time to convene a consultative meeting but Romanian opposition prevented it. Thus the countries concerned – most probably harmonizing their standpoints with Moscow – made their decisions independently. Besides the Soviets, Hungary informed all the other Warsaw Pact member states about the negotiations as well but received ambiguous responses, if any. Nevertheless, no rejection was received from any of the parties. The Hungarian leadership considered this as an approval and therefore the HSWP PC session on 10 January 1967 accepted a resolution to start official negotiations with the FRG. Based on this authorization, Rolf Lahr, Deputy Foreign Minister of the FRG conducted negotiations in Hungary on 23-26 January 1967, as a result of which the Hungarian leadership was ready to establish diplomatic relations. However, without any consultation with the Warsaw Pact member states, it was suddenly announced on 31 January that Romania agreed with the FRG to establish diplomatic relations. At this time, an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers was summoned at Hungarian initiative to negotiate the developing crisis. The Hungarian foreign minister took part in the conference with the mandate that an agreement must be reached on how the other member states can enter into diplomatic relations somewhat later in the given situation. Instead of this, under hard pressure of the GDR and Poland, with Soviet assistance, without any previous information, presented as an ultimatum, they made the participants accept a secret protocol. It stated that in the case of such Eastern European countries that still had no diplomatic relations with the FRG, the conditions were not proper for establishing such relations. According to the East German and Polish standpoint, with due persistence, the FRG could be forced to admit the German Democratic Republic within a few years, to renounce the claim of the sole representation of the German people, and to recognize the European borders settled after World War II. The Hungarian leadership was shocked that it had been compelled to walk into this trap when it recognized that there was no way out of it. During the HSWP PC session of 13 February 1967, a vehement debate developed about the tasks to be done in this humiliating situation. It is not an exaggeration to say that, since 1956, it represented the gravest crisis for the Hungarian leadership with regard to the alliance.
Eventually the HSWP PC decided that in order to maintain the unity of the Warsaw Pact, the parties concerned should be informed about the special Hungarian position: they would loyally carry out the joint resolution accepted in Warsaw, however, the HSWP did not agree with the main thesis of the protocol, because consultation on the issue of establishing diplomatic relations with the FRG should have been left open. The delivery of the message was implemented in a special form as well. The letter was signed neither by the first secretary of the party, nor by the prime minister or the foreign minister, but Zoltán Komócsin, secretary of the HSWP CC responsible for foreign affairs, who informed his fellow CC secretaries at the parties concerned about the standpoint of his party. He also pointed out that the HSWP requested further consultations in order to discuss the issue. All this, nevertheless, did not change the situation significantly, so this important Hungarian initiative was sacrificed for the common interests of the Soviet Bloc. Finally, Hungary – following the general settlement of the German question between 1970 and 1973 – established diplomatic relations with the FRG in 1973, as the last country from the camp.
In a paradoxical way, however, we can conclude that in this case the rigid and persistent standpoint of the GDR and Poland was eventually justified by the course of history, as the results they had been hoping for were achieved in a few years' time. However, if the FRG "had acquired" the other three countries concerned along with Romania as an "easy prey" at that time, it is more than probable that such a development would have significantly effected the forthcoming process of the general settlement of the German question. Even the very outcome of the West-German elections in September 1969 – that is the victory of the SPD –could be questionable as it could have been rightly argued that if it was possible to gain such a serious diplomatic victory in the field of Ostpolitik by applying a flexible policy but without making basic concessions, this could be a model for a successful FRG strategy in the future as well. This approach then could have significantly influenced the course of the whole process of détente.
The commencement of the Czechoslovak reform process in January 1968 just coincided with the introduction of the so-called new economic mechanism, the first experiment aiming at significantly transforming the Stalinist economic model in Hungary. For forecasting the home influence of the developments in Prague, there were two explanations with opposing meaning: the reforms in Czechoslovakia, if not limited exclusively to the economy, sooner or later would transgress the limits which could be tolerated by the Soviet leadership, and this would lead to the oppression of the movement as it happened in Hungary in 1956. All these events may disqualify all kinds of reform in the Soviet bloc as well as seriously endanger the outcome of the Hungarian economic reform. The other theory, however, maintained that, while the Czechoslovak economic and political reforms together would be unacceptable for Moscow, the limited Hungarian transformation did not pose a threat of political destabilization and would be given green light as the lesser evil. The comparison of the two processes with different potential outcomes might even arouse certain sympathy in the Soviet leadership for the Hungarian reforms aiming only at improving the functioning of the Hungarian economy.
For János Kádár, the Prague Spring signified the first conflict that seemed insoluble for a long time when applying his dialectical thesis on the perpetual need to maintain harmony between the national and the international interest, defined in 1957. The "national interest" required supporting the new Czechoslovak leadership for as long as possible because the reforms there showed a number of common characteristics with the Hungarian ones, and in case of their successful realization, the two countries could have set an example to the other countries as well. On the other hand, the "internationalist" interest required not getting engaged in a conflict with the Soviet leaders and other countries of the bloc for the sake of supporting the Dubček leadership. Today, it is well known that Kádár admonished the Czechoslovak leaders to be cautious and slow down the reforms, while, until mid-July 1968 he tried to persuade the Soviets and the other Warsaw Pact member states to be more tolerant towards the events in Prague, because the cause of socialism was definitively not endangered there. But by the summer of the year, in all probability, he was no more really sure of that because his experiences acquired during the Hungarian revolution suggested him otherwise. One thing must be clearly stated: It is true that the Czechoslovak Communist Party was still holding the power in August 1968, but recent scholarship as well as the comparative analysis of similar movements clearly show that without the military intervention of the Warsaw Pact a Western type democratic parliamentary system would have been established in Czechoslovakia within a short time.
This is exactly what Kádár realized in mid-July, and from that time on for him, a faithful communist, it was no question what the Hungarian leadership should do. Thus eventually Kádár did not have to face the insoluble conflict – the situation had solved itself for him: at this point the national interest and the international interest became identical in his interpretation. Hungary had only one choice, it had to help save the Communist system in Czechoslovakia. 
The PCC's July 1966 Bucharest declaration calling for the summoning of an all-European security conference proved to be a premature initiative that did not yet initiate the actual preparation process for such a conference. The positive or at least neutral response to the declaration in several western countries, however, significantly contributed to the initiation of an internal process whereby Moscow started to urge the individual Warsaw Pact member states to do their best, in the course of bilateral negotiations, to convince their West European partners of the significance of the Soviet bloc's initiative for the betterment of East-West relations. This development resulted in an unprecedented active participation of some of the Eastern European countries – including Hungary – in international politics, which promoted their further emancipation. The negotiations contributed to easing international tension, gradually increased confidence between the representatives of the two sides and promoted the development of a common European conscience in the long run. The active and intensive participation in the East-West dialogue unfolding this time – mainly concerning general issues as yet – prepared these countries for the role which they would later play in the process initiated by the PCC's Budapest declaration issued in March 1969.
The Warsaw Pact's Bucharest declaration had a significant impact on the development of Hungarian foreign policy thinking as well. In January 1967, Foreign Minister János Péter submitted a comprehensive concept to the HSWP PC, proposing an important role for Hungary in the intensification of the détente process and the radical improvement of East-West relations. In order to actively work for the convening of a European security conference, he proposed to establish intensive official and personal relations primarily with Austria, England and France as well as with other smaller Western European countries such as Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. One of the most remarkable points of the concept is the proposal for establishing a close co-operation among " the countries of the Danubian area and the Central European states" (Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Austria). Although the concept was only implemented about twenty years later in significantly different circumstances, it was an indication of the serious endeavor of Hungarian foreign policy to participate actively in the transformation process of East-West relations.  As the country's economy was relying on Western contacts and technology perhaps more than any other Warsaw Pact member country, working for détente became an important priority for the Hungarian leadership from the mid-sixties onward.
In fact, the project of a European security conference – originally initiated by the Soviets in 1954, then reinvented by Gomułka in 1964 and eventually re-Sovietized in 1965 – created an excellent chance for the European allies of the Soviet Union to appear as genuinely active factors on the stage of world policy at the end of the 1960s. In this process – on the long road leading up to the Helsinki conference – these states were not simply acting as implementers of the Soviet will, but – especially Hungary, Poland, the GDR and Romania – performed a proactive role in many cases and in several fields thus contributed substantially to shaping the Eastern Bloc's general policy all along.
Following the PCC declaration in Bucharest in July 1966, Hungarian diplomacy launched a large scale campaign for conducting bilateral negotiations with West European partners promoting the idea of a European security conference. This active role in supporting the Soviet project was then rewarded by the fact that the declaration of the PCC that finally did initiate the preparatory process for the conference was issued at the meeting of the PCC in Budapest in March 1969 – at least this is how it is perceived in retrospect. Documents in the Hungarian National Archives, however, shed new light on the genesis of this declaration of historical importance. First, with the exception of Berlin, Budapest was the only capital where there had been no PCC meeting yet, so it was quite logical to have the next one there. Secondly, on the agenda of the session – which originally was to take place in December 1968 – there was only one issue: the establishment of the legal military structure of the Warsaw Pact for peacetime  , up until almost the last moment. In early February 1969, Brezhnev mentioned to Kádár in Moscow that it would be a great achievement if, in addition to the required changes in the military structure, a general political declaration on the main issues of international politics could be accepted in unity in Budapest  – the first PCC meeting to follow the Warsaw Pact's military intervention in Czechoslovakia, publicly condemned by Romania. The idea of issuing a declaration on European security at the Budapest meeting was raised in a letter of the Soviet leadership dated 7 March 1969 to János Kádár. Even at that point, just ten days before the session, however, it was clear that the declaration was meant to be a secondary issue on the agenda, nothing really more than a "let us try it again" kind of move. Kádár's account about the PCC meeting gives a vivid description of the dramatic debates unfolding just before the session, at some points threatening with a total failure, but eventually resulting in an agreement on the final text, thanks to a series of compromises made by all of the most important participants – the Soviets, Romanians, East Germans, Poles and Hungarians – of the reconciliation process. Both Kádár himself and acting foreign minister Frigyes Puja played a very important proactive and mediating role during these difficult talks, including an exhausting three day session of the deputy foreign ministers on 15-17 March. The main achievement of the meeting was that all parties eventually accepted the Soviet-Hungarian-sponsored proposal that there should be no precondition of any kind for a European security conference. The inclusion of this thesis in the PCC's appeal would later become a crucial factor in successfully initiating the CSCE process. Thus the document accepted at this session became the well known Budapest declaration of the Warsaw Pact in no little part due to the vigorous efforts of the hosts of the meeting in Budapest.
Hungarian diplomacy became even more active after the PCC meeting in Budapest. In this period, fortunately enough, Hungarian interests totally coincided with Soviet ones in fostering a radical rapprochement in East-West relations. Thus the Hungarians, who had no preconditions concerning a European settlement – unlike Poland, Czechoslovakia and the GDR – and could only gain in the campaign, became the most valuable partners for the Soviets in the CSCE process. By now they had well developing contacts with the western part of Europe and acquired a certain level of prestige as promoters of détente. On the other hand they were much more loyal, flexible and obedient partners in following Moscow's tactics than the much less manageable East Germans and Poles often sticking rigidly to their own ideas concerning the potential agenda of the security conference, not to mention the Romanians. This "special relationship" was well illustrated by Moscow's asking the Hungarian leadership to act as moderators in neutralizing the excessive Polish, East German and Romanian proposals – jeopardizing the success of the Warsaw Pact's initiative – put forward at the meeting of the Warsaw Pact foreign ministers in Prague on 30-31 October 1969.  In addition, to facilitate the talks, the Hungarians were advised not to present some of their own proposals at the meeting – such as the establishment of a European Security Council, concluding agreements on regional cooperation and summoning a meeting of the mayors of the European countries in Budapest – but were encouraged to resubmit them at a later point in the preparatory process. The "friendly request" was listened to and the Hungarian delegation played a constructive role once again at the session of the foreign ministers in Prague. In turn for its cooperation however, Hungarian diplomacy succeeded in presenting several important proposals already in this early stage that would later become crucial elements of the joint Warsaw Pact policy concerning the CSCE process. Thus the idea was accepted at the foreign ministers meeting in Prague that there should be a series of security conferences and that a permanent organ should be set up to coordinate the preparation work. It was also agreed that a group of experts dealing with European economic cooperation should be established within the Warsaw Pact and that its work should be coordinated by the Hungarian foreign ministry. At the summit meeting of European socialist countries in Moscow in December 1969 Hungary proposed that the two German states should be admitted to the United Nations at the same time – serving the cause of the recognition of the GDR by introducing an important element of compromise.
Perhaps it is no wonder that the crucial meeting of the Warsaw Pact foreign ministers that proved to be a turning point in the process took place in Budapest in July 1970 with the very active mediating role of Hungarian diplomacy. At that meeting two important elements were accepted that proved to have been determining factors in inviting a positive Western reaction to the idea of the security conference. In return for a Western inclination to accept the GDR as participant at the conference it was declared that the United States and Canada should also take part in the meeting. Another important Western precondition was also agreed on: Besides the issues of political and economic cooperation, cultural cooperation should also be put on the agenda of the conference. This question later would become the core of the Western strategy focusing on human rights in Helsinki and especially during the successor conferences.
Hungary thus gradually acquired a special role among the smaller Warsaw Pact countries concerning the preparations for the European security conference. As Hungarian strategy was based on the firm belief that only Warsaw Pact operating in unity could successfully keep the proactive role in this historical process, further endeavors were made to foster the political transformation of the organization. In order to improve political coordination in the Warsaw Pact in the forthcoming crucial period, Foreign Minister János Péter once again made a proposal for the establishment of a Committee of Foreign Ministers at his meeting with Gromyko in Moscow in December 1969. On 5 January 1970, a positive reply was received from Moscow authorizing the Hungarian leaders to conduct bilateral talks with the Warsaw Pact member countries.  The long process starting at that point brought fruits only in 1974 when Ceauşescu eventually gave up his resistance against the idea and it took another two years until the Committee was actually set up. The efforts of Hungarian diplomacy nevertheless did not prove to be in vain on the long run.
Towards Western Europe, Hungarian diplomacy continued its campaign for fostering the idea of cooperation, the most important target states being Austria, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Turkey. In the Warsaw Pact Hungary became the main promoter of the CSCE process, playing an active, initiating and mediating role all along. 
Hungary became the main beneficiary of the Helsinki conference and the unfolding détente process among the Warsaw Pact countries. Hungarian diplomacy did not waste time: in 1976 – alone among the Warsaw Pact countries – detailed proposals on the improvement of bilateral political, economic and cultural relations were elaborated and communicated to the partners with nineteen countries in Western Europe and the United States. Consequently, the country's political and economic relations with West European states and the U.S. were dynamically developing from the mid-seventies. Beyond the fact that a very intensive series of official exchanges took place at the level of ministers and experts in this period, suffice it to mention the summit meetings of the time: János Kádár visited Bonn in 1977 and Rome in 1978. French Prime Minister Raymond Barre was received in Budapest in 1977 and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Hungary in 1979.
The prospects of a bright future, however, seemed to be seriously jeopardized by dramatic events on the stage of world politics in December 1979. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan caught the Hungarian leaders by surprise, but, as Hungary was a solid member of the group of "closely cooperating socialist countries," there was nothing much to do than accept the Soviet explanation and follow the general line of the Warsaw Pact in the field of propaganda.  Initially this did not seem to cause too much trouble as Hungary's main concern was to maintain its good political and economic relations with the West, especially Western Europe, that were developing in a dynamic way since the mid-seventies. Although the harsh American reaction against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made many people worry about the future of East-West relations, for the Hungarian leaders it was reassuring that both the Soviet leaders (Brezhnev's speech on 16 January 1980) and most key politicians in Western Europe made it clear that there was a strong joint interest in maintaining the results of détente. Thus, the real shock for the Hungarian leadership was caused by a Soviet intervention in late January 1980, "requesting" that Hungary should freeze its high level contacts with the West immediately. This unexpected Soviet move was motivated by Moscow's new attitude towards the international crisis. Originally, Moscow had definitely reckoned with a certain level of criticism from the West, but basically had expected that after a short period of time the fait accompli would be accepted by the rest of the world and the crucial issue of keeping up the results of détente would overshadow the problem of Afghanistan. However, after the unexpectedly harsh US reaction was made public and especially when it became clear that there was no chance to avoid the deployment of the "Euromissiles" by convincing the Western European countries, Moscow became offended and decided to take countermeasures. During the campaign not only Hungary but also Czechoslovakia and the GDR were ordered to cancel imminent high level talks with Western politicians. 
This caused a very serious clash of interest between the Soviet Union and the East Central European Communist states since by this time all these countries were in different degrees and in different ways interested in developing their relations with Western Europe. In the case of Hungary, the Soviets "requested" that the visit of the Hungarian foreign minister to Bonn, due to take place in less then a week, be canceled and similarly that the visit of a parliamentary delegation to the United States be postponed. At the 29 January meeting of the HSWP PC, one of the most dramatic meetings in the history of this body, the Hungarian leadership got closest to making a political decision openly defying the Soviet will. During a heated debate, several PC members proposed that in view of the extremely short notice and taking into account the country's economic interests, the Soviet request should be disregarded. There seemed to be a clear majority for this position.  It was János Kádár's dramatic intervention that prevented the PC from making such an "irresponsible" decision. In a rather confused speech, he argued that Hungary had to choose between two bad options and declared that the visits had to be canceled. He also warned the PC that in fact Hungary would not lose anything by obeying Moscow (except that Kádár "would be called a Soviet satellite" in the West), while otherwise there was very much to lose by losing the confidence of the Kremlin leaders. In order to enlighten those who might have had illusions concerning the nature of the Soviet request he added: "What do you think, how long will they be polite with us? Why with us, [...] excuse me for the phrase, with our lousy life and country, [...] how long will they behave politely with us?"
Eventually the visits were canceled but paradoxically the humiliation Kádár had to suffer in this case had a favorable impact on his country.
At the same PC session, it was also decided that Moscow should be asked to urgently hold multilateral consultations on the consequences of the situation in Afghanistan for East-West relations. A special envoy, András Gyenes, CC secretary for foreign affairs, was immediately sent to Moscow for personal consultation and Kádár himself sent a letter to Brezhnev.  He put forward the Hungarian position: In the present situation the allies must be consulted regularly on the joint policy of the Soviet Bloc in international politics, and the results of détente must be preserved. This was possible only by maintaining and strengthening the relations of the East Central European countries with Western Europe. It would be possible only this way to avoid the prevailing of American influence in those countries.
The Hungarian proposal was accepted soon and a meeting of the CC secretaries for foreign affairs of the closely cooperating socialist countries was summoned in Moscow on 26 February 1980. At the conference Boris Ponomarev, CPSU CC secretary for international affairs adopted and put forward the Hungarian position as the current CPSU line, emphasizing that "the socialist countries should make the maximum use of the possibilities contained in the existing relations with the Western European countries to counterbalance the United States' foreign policy line." This was a great victory for Hungarian diplomacy not only because Hungary got a green light for going on with developing its western relations that were crucial for the country's economy, but also because this position and Kádár's personal intervention helped the liberal forces in the Soviet leadership to overcome their adversaries (led by Gromyko) representing a more bellicose attitude towards the west.
All this contributed to a great degree to avoiding the deterioration of East–West relations in the same way as it happened in the case of US-Soviet relations following the invasion of Afghanistan. That is, at least in part, the explanation why there was no "Second Cold War" (as many historians – not including the author – call these years) in Europe.
For Hungary, the period between the invasion of Afghanistan and the rise of Gorbachev in 1985 was a dynamic and prosperous era in the field of foreign policy. Hungary was able to join the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1982. Moreover, as early as 1981 exploratory talks were already underway concerning a potential agreement with the European Economic Community. This was later prevented not by the Moscow leadership but by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who was worried about the potential negative effect of such a step on his own country's relations with the Soviet Union. He explicitly talked Kádár out of this plan on the latter's visit to Bonn in April 1982.  During this period, high-level relations with Western countries became very intensive. Kádár paid visits to Bonn in 1982, and to London in 1985. French President Francois Mitterrand in 1982, Vice-President George Bush in 1983, and Helmut Kohl, Margaret Thatcher, and Bettino Craxi in 1984, in turn, visited Hungary. Since Poland lost the sympathy of the Western states after the introduction of martial law in 1981, as did Romania due to its repressive policy, Hungary become the number one favorite in the eyes of the West as the most presentable country of the Eastern bloc. This attitude was expressed in a spectacular way when Budapest was chosen for the venue of the European Cultural Forum in 1985. After Gorbachev entered the scene, the situation changed in as much as the Soviet leadership took over the role as the primary promoter of dialogue between East and West. The proactive and mediating nature of Hungarian foreign policy was preserved, however, although now only as of secondary importance. 
Following the rise of Gorbachev in 1985, Hungarian-Soviet relations were characterized by a particular dichotomy concerning the questions of perestroika, glasnost, and the reforms in general. Hungary simultaneously played the part of best student and teacher. It was no accident that Gorbachev's policy was received most favorably in Hungary, for the Hungarians considered it to be subsequent justification of the reforms that had been going on since the 1960s in adverse Eastern "winds"  . After carefully considering Hungarian experiences, the Soviets introduced several innovations and changes, such as reorganizing agriculture, accepting the role of the market in a limited sense, and accepting more than one candidate in the general elections. Moreover, in the fall of 1988, after studying what the Hungarians had accomplished a few months before, different special committees of the CPSU CC were formed, among them the new International Committee headed by Yakovlev. 
In this period, Hungary's Western contacts were developing in a dynamic way and the activity of Hungarian diplomacy was now unfolding not only on the field of bilateral relations but in international organizations and forums as well. Beginning in 1987, even delicate issues like the question of ethnic minorities were openly raised by Hungarian diplomats, tacitly relying on political support from Western countries against Romania, a member state of the Warsaw Pact. These developments showed that both the traditional model of political cooperation within the Warsaw Pact and the general shape of East-West relations were facing a radical process of transformation. 
Political Transition and Foreign Policy
The first qualitative change in foreign policy – just as in the transition within the country – took place in 1988. This turn had nothing to do with the removal of Kádár or with the party conference in May, however, but rather with the significant positive changes taking place on the international political stage. This was the time when a new concept was being outlined which could possibly give Hungary the role as a sort of bridge in East-West relations based on a new world order of cooperation. This concept still assumed the preservation of the given alliance frameworks (Warsaw Pact, Council of Mutual Economic Assistance, or COMECON), but it also envisaged that these organizations would undergo necessary democratic changes, and as a result they would no longer hinder Hungary in establishing relations with other countries or organizations which would satisfy her own national interests.
The old foreign policy deriving from the 1970s was built on relative autonomy, which in simple terms meant that whatever is not forbidden is allowed. In turn, the new concept meant – to borrow the terms of the "rules of the road" – that if a police officer tells you to stop, don't lose heart but rather try to convince him to let you through. Indeed, if you feel it to be justified, you can even run the risk of later rebuke by ignoring him and simply driving through the intersection. This new, dynamic, and proactive foreign policy was in practice aimed at accomplishing a kind of quasi-neutrality, although this thesis was never articulated in explicit form for either the public or confidential use. Today, however, we can establish that this characterized the Hungarian endeavors between 1988 and the 1990 general elections.
The Moscow-Warsaw-Budapest Triangle
During 1988-1989 an informal and virtual Moscow-Warsaw-Budapest triangle was formed which was referred to in contemporary Hungarian documents as "those in close cooperation".  It is history's irony that the practically same term: "closely cooperating socialist countries" had marked all the member states of the Warsaw Pact with the exception of Romania from the mid-sixties. The leaders of the three countries tried to harmonize their views on economic and political reforms at bilateral negotiations and, since they were in numerical minority in the Warsaw Pact and the COMECON, they attempted to establish a unified position within both organizations so that they could exercise pressure on the countries with a conservative leadership. This special relationship most likely made a significant contribution to the positive Soviet attitude and to the Soviets' tolerance of the transition in Hungary and the pioneering efforts of the country's foreign policy.
Close cooperation had its drawback too, however. Coordinated action very often meant that the Soviet leadership requested support for a position which, although more progressive than that of the conservative camp, did not fully, or even partially, represent the interests of Hungary, which was well ahead of its partners in the transition process. A significant compromise was imposed on Hungary with respect to the handling of the Hungarian-Romanian conflict that became public by 1988. In July 1988, Gorbachev explained to HSWP secretary general and Prime Minister Károly Grósz on his visit to Moscow that the Soviet leadership definitely took Hungary's side in the debate, but that they could not represent this position officially, because such a move – with respect to the separatist movements and the ethnic conflicts within the empire – could have unforeseeable consequences in terms of the inner stability of the Soviet Union. While Gorbachev was absolutely right about this, he was wrong in persuading the explicitly unwilling secretary general to take a step – the meeting with Ceauşescu in Arad, Romania – which not only destroyed Grósz's prestige as a leader, but also undermined the position of the HSWP.  This is because the meeting, which public opinion viewed as a betrayal of Hungarian national interests, "naturally" had to be "sold" as an autonomous Hungarian decision. The only possible explanation for Gorbachev's aggressive intervention into Hungarian politics is that the Soviet leader was not merely worried about the possible outcome of an open endorsement of the Hungarian position, but regarded the mere fact of a Romanian-Hungarian conflict as a source of danger which could further erode the already weak inner cohesion of the Warsaw Pact, and – even worse – could easily strengthen centrifugal forces in the multinational Soviet Union itself. It is only in this context that we can understand what made Gorbachev request his close ally to make such an unfortunate compromise with a Romanian leadership which had already accused the Soviet Union of betraying socialism, and of which the Soviet secretary general himself had a very low opinion.  In fact what was at stake here was no less than the survival of the imperial center, which was given utmost priority. If one tries to find a historical parallel, it could also be described as a Brest-Litovsk syndrome. At that critical moment in the Russian civil war, Lenin also pressed for a peace treaty to be made with the Germans arguing that though it required giving up significant territories, the Soviet state itself could still be saved. Lenin had proved to be right about this, but his later successor, Gorbachev, like the Soviet Union itself, was overtaken by history.
The first important development in the course of the Hungarian transition for which there was no Soviet consent was the 28 January 1989 radio interview with minister of state Imre Pozsgay – or more precisely, his assessment of the 1956 October events as a popular uprising. This announcement is even more significant when we consider that it was also the first "anti-Soviet" move by the Hungarian leadership, since the new interpretation of the events meant that on 4 November 1956, the Soviet Union had cracked down upon a democratic national movement and not a counter-revolutionary uprising. This thesis was so far removed from current Soviet views that although the 1968 Czechoslovak invasion was denounced in December 1989, a similar step was never to be taken during the existence of the Soviet Union. Therefore, it would have been a logical step to reprove the Hungarian leadership. Today we know that a draft letter was written to this effect which, however, at the explicit order of Gorbachev was never sent to Budapest.  Gorbachev must have understood very well that this genie could never again be ordered back into the bottle, while at the same time he might have hoped that the HSWP's position could be greatly strengthened if the party itself dealt with the matter rather than letting the opposition capitalize upon it politically. Moreover, the proper "dialectical" nature of handling the problem made it possible to avoid having to address the direct historical responsibility of the Soviet Union. From a formal aspect, this need was basically met by the text of an announcement issued after the 10-11 February meeting of the HSWP CC, declaring that on 23 October 1956 a popular uprising broke out, but that, in reference to the inevitable outcome, by the end of October counter-revolutionary developments had started to unfold.
Floating the Brezhnev Doctrine
All this coincided with a radical turn in the previously outlined Eastern European policy of the Soviet Union, as a result of which four decades of firm control were replaced by an automatic process whose central element was floating the Brezhnev doctrine and maintaining the uncertainty deriving from it. This turn was not perceived even by those involved for some time, which was exactly how it was intended. We have already discussed Károly Grósz's experiences in this respect during his visit to Moscow in March 1989. The best example of the almost insoluble dilemma it brought to the Hungarian leaders can be found by comparing two contemporary statements made by Gyula Horn. As a secretary of state at the Foreign Ministry, Horn said the following in his speech on the second day of the 20-21 February 1989 meeting of the HSWP CC: "Today there is no question at all of an intervention within the Warsaw Pact – we have long overcome the Brezhnev doctrine – as is well exemplified by the decision on a multiparty system which was our own sovereign decision."  Four months later at the end of June, however, Horn, already in the role of foreign minister, cautioned the members of the Central Committee against any illusions: "... our situation should not be confused with that of any other democratic country. In Hungary there is no rotation in politics. [...] If the HSWP falls as a governing party, this would be equivalent with a political transition, a different political system. I wonder whether it will be tolerated by the alliance system. I do not think so."  That was what a Hungarian politician, who very likely had the most information concerning the intentions of the Soviet leadership, predicted after the victory of Solidarity in the general elections in Poland in June 1989. In a confidential analysis made a few weeks before, it was explicitly stated that "the present guarantees do not exclude the possibility that in case of a retreat to the old system [in the Soviet Union] a unilateral or multilateral military action should take place in the name of defending socialism [in Hungary].  The success of the Soviet tactic is well reflected by the fact that ten years after the events, Rezső Nyers marked July of 1989 and Imre Pozsgay November of the same year as the point in time when it looked sure to them that the Soviets would not intervene in Hungary, even if the transition was to lead to a total abandonment of socialism. 
Conflicts with Warsaw Pact Member Countries
The structure of the conflicts within the Warsaw Pact had changed radically by 1988-1989: The earlier scenario (Romania against the rest of the countries) was replaced by an opposition between the reformers and the conservatives. Even in the summer of 1989, however, the public had very little knowledge of these conflicts, thanks to the great efforts of the Soviet leaders, who all along tried to maintain unity by all possible means. Paradoxically, Hungary – known earlier for its loyalty to Soviet interests – simultaneously assumed the double role of leading reformer as well as primary troublemaker in the Eastern bloc. This is because Hungary not only fell into serious conflict with three of the four conservative countries – Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the GDR – but even worse, because these conflicts also took place openly in front of the public.
Since 1956, and especially after Nicolae Ceauşescu came to power in 1965, the human and collective rights of the two million strong Hungarian minority were more and more drastically restricted in Romania. The situation became especially serious with the 1972 announcement of the "national homogenization program" aimed at the total elimination of national minorities and the establishment of a Romanian nation-state. By the end of the 1970s, this resulted in a serious tension in the relations of the two countries. Since Hungarian attempts to resolve the problem on the basis of bilateral negotiations all met with failure, Hungarian foreign policy tried to achieve international denunciation of the Romanian policy in international forums indirectly, by placing the issue of human rights into the limelight.
This tactic was motivated by two different but related factors: on the one hand, it took place at a time when the Western states placed great emphasis on human rights issues and human rights records in the Eastern bloc countries. On the other hand, the Hungarian leadership could take advantage of its special position as the country whose internal situation most closely fit Western expectations during those years. The first open step was only taken in March 1987 at the Vienna follow-up meeting of the conference on European security and cooperation, when Hungary joined the Canadian proposal which was formally aimed at strengthening the rights of European minorities but was essentially a call upon the participating nations to denounce Romania. The situation got even worse at the beginning of 1988, when Romania launched its so-called "systematization" project whereby it intended to destroy several thousand villages, while at the same time masses of Hungarian Romanians started fleeing to Hungary because of increasing discrimination. The 28 August 1988, meeting of the secretaries general of the two parties in Arad was held under Soviet pressure and initiative – Ceauşescu gave the Hungarian leaders two days (!) to consider accepting his offer for negotiations – and did not bring any improvement in the relations of the two countries.
This unsuccessful action had fatal consequences for the HSWP, in spite of the fact that afterwards, in the second half of 1988 and in 1989, Hungarian official authorities took a firm stand on defending the interests of Hungarians living in Romania and openly admitted their conflict with the Romanian leadership. The meeting in Arad cast a long shadow on these attempts. It was therefore the opposition rather than the ruling party that was able to capitalize upon the rehabilitation of national feelings and sentiment.
The last attempt of the Hungarian leadership to resolve the conflict through bilateral negotiations was made at the session of the PCC at the beginning of July 1989 in Bucharest. This time, Ceauşescu invited chairman of the HSWP Rezső Nyers, Prime Minister Miklós Németh, and foreign minister Gyula Horn on the spot to an "unofficial" meeting, which the Hungarian delegation – possibly following Soviet advice again – accepted.  Although at the Arad meeting Károly Grósz was forced to retreat into a defensive position against the Romanian leader, this time the Hungarians were able to negotiate in a quite different position. They imposed conditions on regulating the relations between the two countries: the Romanian side should cease its discrimination against the Hungarian minority as well as the propaganda and the military threats against Hungary, it should abort the fulfillment of the systematization project in the regions inhabited by Hungarians, it should allow Hungarian cultural products into the country, and it should stop the humiliating harassment of masses of Hungarian tourists at the Hungarian-Romanian border. In addition, Gyula Horn indicated that if necessary, Hungary would propose international supervision of the situation of the national minorities and the systematization plan.  Although under the given circumstances there seemed little hope that the Hungarian demands would be fulfilled, in order to continue with the tug-of-war, the negotiating parties agreed to have a meeting of the prime ministers. Furthermore, they agreed to exchange a parliamentary-local council delegation with the provision that the Hungarian delegation should have a chance to visit areas inhabited by Hungarians when studying the accomplishment of the systematization plan. None of this materialized, however, because of the events of the fall and winter of 1989. Thus, the renewal of Hungarian-Romanian relations took place only after the radical turn in December 1989.
In 1989, three fundamental questions caused serious tension in Hungarian-Czechoslovak relations: the Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros dam, the situation of Hungarians in Czechoslovakia, and the reassessment of the 1968 intervention.
In 1989, the Hungarian government, partly for economic reasons and partly as a result of social pressure that had been intensifying for years, unilaterally stopped the process of building a dam on the river Danube based on a contract made between the two countries in 1977. Since the Czechoslovak government – also referring to social pressure – insisted that the dam should be built as planned, a long-lasting conflict on this issue emerged between the two countries that continues to this day.
The Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia did not have to endure a drastic policy of discrimination similar to that in Romania, but this by no means signifies that the Hungarians were able to exercise their collective and human rights without restrictions. The Hungarian media, which became increasingly independent and outspoken starting in the beginning of 1989, discussed this issue quite frequently, thus provoking resentment in the Czechoslovak leadership. Fearing the establishment of a Czechoslovak-Romanian "axis," the official Hungarian leadership explicitly refrained from addressing this issue, and stressed at the bilateral meetings that its conflict was essentially with Romania. 
The greatest tension between the two countries, however, was caused by Hungarian developments concerning the "Prague Spring" and the military intervention in Czechoslovakia. Since its own legitimacy was at stake, the Czechoslovak leadership had every reason to be worried. The Prague leaders expressed their resentment concerning an interview with Alexandr Dubček aired on Hungarian television.  Then, at the beginning of August, they indignantly objected to an interview in which the head of the foreign affairs department of the HSWP CC envisaged the reassessment of the 1968 events.  The Czechoslovak ambassador to Budapest commissioned to mediate in this matter, however, also stated as his private opinion that the Czechoslovak leadership would accept a scenario according to which Hungary initially had supported a political settlement of the problem, and later only under international circumstances decided to participate in the intervention in August, 1968. The official communiqué issued by the Hungarian party leadership on 17 August 1989 did take this proposal into consideration. While the declaration was meant to be cautious, however, the fact that a member state of the Warsaw Pact which had also taken part in the intervention said that it "does not identify with" the intervention doubtlessly contributed to the destabilization of the Czechoslovak situation a few months later.
The GDR and East German refugees
The decision that had the greatest impact on the collapse of the Eastern European communist systems was the one that made it possible for GDR citizens staying in Hungary to leave for the FRG through Austria on 11 September 1989. Paradoxically enough, this German refugee situation was the only one in which the Hungarian leadership considered itself absolutely innocent, since it had no interest whatsoever in destroying relations with the GDR that were fairly balanced under the given circumstances. Indirectly, however, this conflict was initiated by the Hungarian side when at the beginning of May 1989, in accord with the policy of opening up to the West, Hungary decided to remove its electronic signaling system and barbed wire – the "iron curtain" – from the Austrian-Hungarian border.  As a consequence, tens of thousands of East German tourists traveled to Hungary in the hope that they would be able to flee through Austria to the FRG via the now open "green border." 
A few hundred people did succeed, although very soon it became clear that the settlement of the problem required political means. The leadership of the GDR demanded that Hungary comply with the 1969 bilateral treaty, on the basis of which the trespassers should have been deported back to their own country. The Hungarian leadership was not willing to do this, and for some time it hoped the two German states would reach an agreement in order to resolve the crisis. After they failed to do so, and the Hungarian-East German attempts also met with failure, Prime Minister Miklós Németh and Foreign Minister Gyula Horn discussed the issue on 25 August with Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher in the Gymnich castle, where they presented a Hungarian plan according to which the Hungarian government would make it possible for the GDR citizens to freely leave the country.  In a sense, this step meant crossing the Rubicon, for an internal issue of the Eastern bloc was at stake, and according to the practice of the past couple of decades was that the Soviet Union should also have been consulted on an issue of such great import. By the summer of 1989, it had become symptomatic of the radical changes in international politics that while the Hungarians agreed on the settlement of an issue with the NATO member FRG without consulting the Soviets, Chancellor Kohl, despite his promise to the Hungarians, called Gorbachev to learn what Soviet reaction should be expected concerning the planned Hungarian move. "The Hungarians are good people" was the obscure answer,  and as it turned out later, it meant Soviet approval of the situation.
It still begs an answer why Gorbachev's reacted so weakly to this rather significant challenge. Now not only the question of Eastern Europe in general was at stake, but the German question as well, which since 1945 had always been regarded as the cornerstone of the foreign policy of any Soviet leadership. Most likely the Soviet leaders –- like the other players of the game – did not estimate the potential consequences of such a decision, and hoped that if disillusioned people left the GDR, it would have a pacifying rather than a destabilizing effect, and could even facilitate the acceleration of the transition in the country in a controlled manner.
By now we know that exactly the opposite took place, and the mass movements emerging in the fall of 1989 not only led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the GDR, but also to the accomplishment of German unification without significant restrictions, something that in the summer of 1989 would have been called illusory by many even in the FRG.
As has been seen above, Hungary's engagement in such open conflicts was not motivated by an intention to raise tension in any of these situations. On the contrary, in all the three cases the Hungarian leadership acted only after lengthy agony and under the influence of external forces and pressure. All in all, each of these steps in Hungarian foreign policy represented new milestones on the road towards true autonomy; these were the first cases when the leadership decided to prioritize national interests over those interests of the alliance system (and also the Soviet Union). All this, however, had another dimension as well: beyond indirectly contributing to exporting "counter-revolution" through her own example as a leading fighter on behalf of reform Hungary directly facilitated the fermentation process and the destabilization of the communist systems.
After rising to power, Gorbachev not only promised a new relationship with the Eastern European allies, but also from the very beginning urged that the mechanism of cooperation within the Warsaw Pact be modernized. To this effect, as early as October 1985 he proposed establishing a permanent political body whose task would be the improvement of coordination between the member states. No significant change was accomplished in the structure of the Warsaw Pact, however, until it was dissolved in 1991. The outcome of spontaneous democratization under the influence of the new Soviet policy of emphasizing the importance of partnership was, among others, that in addition to the traditional dissenter Romania, the other member states also started to enforce their own special interests. Thus, for example, the above proposal – as it could have become the means of not only coordination but centralization as well – was accepted by the Hungarian leadership, which had been in close cooperation with the Soviet Union all along, only in July 1988. 
Strangely enough, a real debate over reform of the Warsaw Pact was initiated by a Romanian motion submitted at approximately the same time. Basically, it suggested that the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact should be dissolved, and the organization should be turned into an exclusively military alliance.  At the Warsaw session of the PCC in July 1988, a committee of experts was formed to study the questions related to reforming the organization, and based on this work the Hungarian leadership framed its position by March 1989. 
By this time, however, thanks to the political changes in the country, the issues concerning Hungarian relations with the alliance system were no longer under the exclusive jurisdiction of the HSWP. In the spring of 1989, Hungary had a de facto multiparty system; moreover, after the Assembly Act was passed in January, the opposition parties mushrooming all over Hungary could function legally. At the beginning of that year, the Alliance of Free Democrats suggested that Hungary should request a special status in the Warsaw Pact, and that following the "French model," it should not participate in the military cooperation of the organization. Then, on 16 April, the governing board of the AFD proposed in its statement that the government should declare Hungary's neutrality. 
The tradition of the 1956 revolution, at least in political rhetoric, served as the starting point for nearly all the opposition organizations, and in addition, the 1 November 1956 declaration of neutrality (which was in force for three days) had an impact on the foreign policy of several parties for some time.  Moreover, the only joint declaration concerning the country's foreign orientation that was endorsed by all the opposition organizations over the course of the political transition was point No. 12 of the communiqué entitled "What does the Hungarian nation demand," which was read out on the national holiday of 15 March 1989 and set the goal of achieving neutrality. Although this demand could be regarded as more of a symbolic position based on an emotional approach than a mature and coordinated plan by the opposition, the leadership of the HSWP had every reason to be concerned, especially because the declaration was also signed by those historical parties with whom they intended to form a coalition after the general elections.  While the Hungarian leadership considered neutrality to be a possibility in the long-term, after the dissolution of the two political-military blocs, in the short-term it did not believe it to be a realistic goal but rather a factor jeopardizing the peaceful transition in the country. 
This was not a groundless view, for at this stage the Soviet Union – and more importantly, the Western partners which otherwise supported the Hungarian transition – consistently sent signals warning Hungary that such an endeavor should not expect endorsement in international politics. At Károly Grósz's visit to Moscow at the end of March 1989, Gorbachev stressed that "under the present conditions it is the modernization of the Warsaw Pact that should be the main target, and not neutrality." 
In April 1989, Volker Rühe, deputy leader of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group also declared to his Hungarian negotiating partners that on a number of issues "the Hungarians entertain illusions, such as the issue of neutrality, Hungary's rapid withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, and instant integration with the West." Egon Bahr, member of the Presidency of SDP, warned that "today the Soviet Union recognizes the sovereignty of its allies and allows them to choose their own course of internal development. The line for the Soviet Union is drawn so that this course of development should not endanger the unity of the Warsaw Pact. It is very important that all the Hungarian parties reach a consensus on not going beyond this line." 
Taking these signals into consideration, the Hungarian leadership essentially took a pragmatic position on the issue of the Warsaw Pact (documents of 6 December 1988, 6 March 1989, 7 March 1989, and 16 May 1989). They reckoned that, on the one hand, the Warsaw Pact – or more precisely, the Soviet nuclear umbrella – would continue to ensure the security of the country while, on the other hand, benign Soviet attitude would enable the country to fulfill its peaceful transition. Thus, the main goal of Hungarian diplomacy should be to ensure the highest possible degree of national sovereignty that is achievable under the given conditions. As a result, the Hungarian position on the status of the Warsaw Pact gave priority to the benevolent attitude of the Soviet Union, and although in any event Soviet ideas were largely in harmony with Hungarian proposals, Hungarian tactics were aimed at ensuring the three "reformers" could efficiently represent their position against the four "conservatives." Therefore, they endorsed not only those proposals which were meant to change the political nature of the organization, to improve its efficiency, to strengthen the democratic process of its decision-making, and to eliminate the principle of mandatory consensus, but – against their better judgment – also those that sought the establishment of a permanent political body or the deepening of cooperation between the parliaments of the member states. 
From time to time, this compromise-seeking policy claimed sacrifices. In June 1988, the Hungarian side submitted a proposal at the Warsaw meeting of the PCC suggesting the creation of a permanent committee of deputy ministers responsible for humanitarian issues and human rights that would also facilitate the constant supervision and the discussion of the situation of national minorities. When it turned out, however, that on the one hand, the Soviet Union was ready to obstruct the Romanian plan proposing devoting a separate session at the 1989 July meeting in Bucharest to the issue of endangering the cause of socialism in Hungary and Poland, but on the other hand, they also indicated that they would not support the motion concerning the human rights committee either, the Hungarian leadership decided to give up this idea, even though it had been regarded as extremely important all along. 
From the very beginning, the new leadership that rose to power in May 1988 in Hungary considered the reduction of military spending to be the primary means of surviving the economic crisis. This intention luckily coincided with the July 1988 Soviet decision that made it possible to take unilateral steps in the field of arms reduction. This explains why, upon Károly Grósz's visit to Moscow, Gorbachev simply acknowledged his declaration that, for economic reasons, Hungary was not able to comply with the agreement on the military cooperation of the Warsaw Pact in force until 1990, and at the same time was compelled to reduce its military production by half a billion rubles.  As a result, without making this fact public, military spending was reduced by some 10 billion HUF by the end of 1988.  Then, at the end of that year, it was officially announced that Hungary's 1989 military budget would be reduced by 17% in real value as compared to the previous year.
Since these modest results in the field of reducing the military spending could liberate significant financial resources, in August 1988 the Hungarian leadership indicated to the Soviets that they would gladly play an initiative and coordinating role in the arms reduction of the Warsaw Pact member states. 
A month earlier, they had already managed to win Gorbachev's support for a very promising concrete initiative. Hungarian diplomacy, after having consulted directly with the Italian government (!), suggested that the Soviet Union should offer to pull out their air squadrons stationed in Hungary if the F-16 fighter planes to be withdrawn from Spain were not deployed in Italy. Soviet support for this intricate political game, however, proved to be insufficient, and this proposal eventually failed due to the attitude of the United States. 
Another important step for Hungarian diplomacy was its August 1988 public declaration that the forthcoming international agreement on the reduction of conventional armed forces in Europe should extend to the troops stationed in Hungary already in the first phase. This opportunity, however, was only possible if Hungary were to be grouped into the Central European theater, which could by no means be taken for granted. Since the Warsaw Pact had decisive advantage in this region, it was in the interest of the organization to put Hungary into the Southern European theater, so as to improve the ratio figures where NATO had the upper hand. In that region, however, it was the Western allies who needed to make significant reductions, so the Hungarian endeavors would have met with utter failure. Although the Hungarians managed to win the Soviet leadership's support for their position, the differing interests of the other member states proved to be a significant factor of uncertainty, even in the spring of 1989 (see document 7 March 1989). 
It was characteristic of Soviet behavior that Gorbachev reacted favorably to Prime Minister Miklós Németh's announcement during his March 1989 visit to Moscow that the Hungarian government had decided to reduce its army by 30-35% by 1995. Gorbachev "merely" requested that this be kept secret, since publicizing it would greatly weaken the position of the Warsaw Pact at the upcoming negotiations on arms reduction in Vienna. 
While the reduction of national military spending was motivated primarily by economic considerations, the call for the withdrawal of the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary mostly served a political cause. The issue was raised based on the 1988 Soviet announcement that the Soviet Union would pull out all its forces from foreign land by 2000. Therefore, as early as August and September 1988, Hungarian foreign policy experts tried convince their Soviet partners that the speedy withdrawal of Soviet troops would have a very positive political, moral, and economic impact on Hungary. 
The need for a partial reduction had already been proposed by the Soviets as well, as a result of which in December 1988, according to the unilateral step mentioned above, it was announced that some ten thousand Soviet troops and their technical equipment had been pulled out of Hungary. A similar partial withdrawal had already taken place before, in 1958, but it had not resulted in any significant change. The real question was whether the Hungarian leadership could end the Soviet occupation of the country, which had been a major grievance for most of the population for the past four decades. The other important question was whether the HSWP could capitalize upon this sufficiently in the course of the political transition.
As a result of the persistence demonstrated by Hungarian foreign policy-makers, who consistently attempted to strengthen elements of national sovereignty while at the same time adjusting their course of action to Soviet interests, Moscow sent a signal in the middle of May 1989 that at the next meeting of the PCC, to be held in Bucharest, Gorbachev would be ready to start negotiations with the Hungarian delegation on the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops.  Real negotiations finally took place when Károly Grósz and Rezső Nyers visited Moscow at the end of July, when Gorbachev agreed to issue a memorandum stating that under the appropriate international conditions, the pullout of forces already underway might lead to the full withdrawal of the Soviet troops.
Further negotiations between the two governments began in August, and as a result, an agreement was signed in Moscow on 10 March 1990, on the withdrawal of Soviet troops by 30 June 1991.
The process of the withdrawal was not free from disputes but the Soviets met the deadline: the last Soviet soldier left the country on 19 June 1991. Thus, one year after the inauguration of its first freely elected government Hungary regained its sovereignty in full.
CSABA BÉKÉS, PhD – founding director of the Cold War History Research Center and Senior Research Fellow at the 1956 Institute, both in Budapest. He specializes in the history of East-West relations, the role of East Central Europe in the Cold War and Hungarian foreign policy. Fore more information see http://www.coldwar.hu.
 Research on the four aspects has been carried out by Csaba Békés, Imre Okváth, Pál Germuska and Gusztáv Kecskés respectively. For their CVs, see http://www.coldwar.hu and http://www.rev.hu. Research for this introduction was supported by the OSZK-MTA 1956-os Dokumentációs és Kutatóhely [Research Group for the History and Documentation of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, National Széchenyi Library–Hungarian Academy of Sciences].
 Besides the author, Gusztáv Kecskés and Attila Kolontári took part in the research project. For their CVs, see http://www.coldwar.hu.
 The author has recently published a long article analyzing Hungary's role in the Warsaw Pact from 1954 to 1967. See Csaba Békés, "Titkos válságkezeléstől a politikai koordinációig. Politikai egyeztetési mechanizmus a Varsói Szerződésben, 1954–1967" [From secret crisis management to political coordination. Political coordinating mechanism in the Warsaw Pact, 1954-1967], in Mú lt századi hétköznapok: Tanulmányok a Kádár rendszer kialakulásának időszakáról. [Everydays in the past century: Essays on the period of the emerging of the Kádár regime] Szerk. János M. Rainer (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 2003), pp. 9-54. Publication in English pending.
 For the history of the establishment of the Warsaw Pact see Vojtech Mastny, "The Soviet Union and the Origins of the Warsaw Pact in 1955," in Mechanisms of Power in the Soviet Union, ed. Niels Erik Rosenfeldt, Bent Jensen, and Erik Kulavig (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000), pp. 241-66. Also on PHP website The Soviet Union and the Origins of the Warsaw Pact, 1955
 Magyar Országos Levéltár [Hungarian National Archives] (henceforward: MOL) 276. f. 53/229. ő. e.
 On the 1956 revolution, see The 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A history in documents, ed. Csaba Békés, Malcolm Byrne, and János M. Rainer (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2002). On the issue of Hungarian neutrality see Csaba Békés, "A magyar semlegesség 1956-ban" [The Neutrality of Hungary in 1956] in Semlegesség - Illú ziók és realitás.[Neutrality - Illusions and Reality] (Budapest: Biztonságpolitikai és Honvédelmi Kutatások Központja, 1997 ) pp. 111-130., - and idem, "The 1956 Hungarian Revolution and World Politics," Cold War International History Project Working Paper 16 (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1996).
 On the Khrushchev–Kádár relationship, see Csaba Békés, "Magyar-szovjet csú cstalálkozók, 1957-1965" [Hungarian-Soviet Summit Meetings. Documents], in Évkönyv, 6. 1998 [Yearbook] ed. György Litván, (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 1998). pp. 143-183. On Soviet-Hungarian diplomatic relations in this era see Magdolna Baráth, "Magyarország a szovjet diplomáciai iratokban, 1957-1964" [Hungary in Soviet diplomatic records], in Mú lt századi hétköznapok. Tanulmányok a Kádár rendszer kialakulásának időszakáról. [Everyday in the past century: Essays on the period of the emerging of the Kádár regime] ed. János M. Rainer, (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 2003), pp. 55-89.
 It is more than interesting that in this period this achievement was held in high esteem both in Moscow and in Washington. See Memorandum from the President's Special Assistant for National Security (Bundy) to President Johnson, 14 April 1964, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968. Eastern Europe, vol. 17 (Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1996), p 301.
 On the integration of the Hungarian army into the Warsaw Pact, see Imre Okváth, "The initial phase of Hungary's integration into the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact, 1957 – 1971," PHP website, 2001. On the development of the Hungarian military industry, see Pál Germuska. "A magyar hadiipar a hatvanas évek elején" [Hungarian military industry at the beginning of the nineteen-sixties], in Mú lt századi hétköznapok, pp. 90-128.
 Report by János Kádár at the HSWP CC session on 10 June 1961. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/41. ő. e.
 Report of Lajos Czinege to the HSWP PC on consultations at the Warsaw Pact Supreme Command, 6 September 1962, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/278. ő. e.
 Account of János Kádár at the HSWP CC session on 10 August 1961. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/42. ő. e.
 Account of János Kádár at the HSWP CC session on 10 June 1961. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/41. ő. e.
 Account of János Kádár at the HSWP CC session on 10 August 1961 MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/42. ő. e.
 Account of János Kádár at the HSWP CC session on 10 June 1961. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/41. ő. e.
 Raymond Garthoff, "When and Why Romania Distanced Itself from the Warsaw Pact," Cold War International History Project Bulletin 5 (Spring 1995) p. 111.
 Minutes of the HSWP PC session on 26 November 1963, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/320. ő. e.
 The Hungarian leadership first proposed the establishment of the Committee of Foreign Ministers as early as 1958 but the Soviets did not even reply to the suggestion at the time. See Baráth Magdolna op.cit. p. 79.
 Account of János Kádár on the visit of a party and government delegation in the Soviet Union, Minutes of the HSWP PC session on 31 July 1963, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/309. ő. e.
 On Soviet-Hungarian relations in this era see György Földes, "Kötélhú zás felsőfokon. Kádár és Brezsnyev" [A tug of war on the highest level. Kádár and Brezhnev], in Ki volt Kádár? Harag és Elfogultság nélkül a Kádár életú tról [Who was János Kádár? Sine ira et studio on Kádár's course of life], ed. Árpád Rácz (Budapest: Rubin-Aquila könyvek, 2001), pp.103-113
 Albania did not take part in the work of the Warsaw Pact since 1961 and left the organization in September 1968.
 Nikita Khrhuschev's letter to János Kádár, 2 January 1964, MOL, M-KS 288.f. 5/325. ő.e.
 For a collection of the records of the Warsaw Pact deputy foreign ministers' meetings see the forthcoming publication by the author on the PHP website.
 For a multiarchival collection of the records of the PCC sessions, with introductions by Vojtech Mastny see the PHP website Party Leaders. For the Hungarian record on the meeting see Account of János Kádár at the HSWP PC session on 26 January 1965, MOL, M-KS-288. f 5/357. ő. e.
 Report of Lajos Czinege to the HSWP PC, 6 November 1964, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/388. ő. e.
 Minutes of the HSWP PC session on 27 April 1965, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/364. ő. e.
 Proposal by Lajos Czinege for the HSWP PC on the Hungarian position concerning the development of the Supreme Command to be represented at the meeting in Bucharest, 18 June 1966, MOL, M-KS - 288. f. 5/398. ő. e.
 Report on the meeting of the Warsaw Pact deputy foreign ministers and ministers of defense in Berlin and Moscow, respectively. (22 February 1966.) MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/ 388. ő. e.
 Report by János Péter for the HSWP PC on the meeting of the Warsaw Pact foreign ministers held from 6–17 June in Moscow, 20 June 1966. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/398. ő. e.
 Minutes of the HSWP PC session on 21 June 1966, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/398. ő. e.
 For the records of the Committee of Defense Ministers and the Committee of Foreign Ministers, see the PHP web site: Defense Ministers and Foreign Ministers.
 On the talks between the FRG and Hungary in 1962–1963 see Mihály Ruff: "A magyar–NSZK kapcsolatok, 1960–1963. Útkeresés a doktrínák ú tvesztőjében" [Hungarian-FRG Relations, 1960-1963. Search for the Way Out in the Labyrinth of Doctrines] Mú ltunk. 44. 1999. 3. pp. 3-40.
 The resolution made at the HSWP PC session on 27 October 1966 agreed with this proposal. MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/ 408. ő. e.
 Minutes of the HSWP PC session on 13 February 1967, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/417. ő. e.
 For the most up to date documentation of the events in Czechoslovakia see The Prague Spring, 1968. Compiled and edited by Jaromil Navrátil with Antonin Bencik, Václav Kural, Marie Michálková and Jitka Vondrova, (Budapest-New York: CEU Press, 1998). On Hungarian policy towards the crisis see Tibor Huszár: 1968: Prága, Budapest, Moszkva. Kádár János és a csehszlovákiai intervenció [1968: Prague, Budapest, Moscow. János Kádár and the Intervention in Czechoslovakia] (Budapest: Szabad Tér, 1998)
 Memorandum by János Péter for the HSWP PC on issues of European peace, security and cooperation, 17 January 1967, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/415. ő. e.
 For the innovations concerning the Warsaw Pact's military structure agreed upon at the PCC meeting in Budapest see Vojtech Mastny, "Tenth Meeting of the PCC: Budapest, 17 March 1969," PHP website 2003.
 Account of János Kádár on his visit to the Soviet Union on 5-10 February 1969 at the HSWP PC session on 18 February 1969, MOL, M-KS 288. f. 5/484. ő.e.
 The Polish proposals were aiming at the recognition of the territorial status quo and the existing European borders, as well as the de jure recognition of the GDR. The Romanians wanted to include in the joint documents an appeal for the dissolution of the military blocs, withdrawal of foreign troops from Europe, elimination of foreign military bases and renunciation of the demonstration of power. The East German proposals were aiming at the recognizing of the GDR by the security conference. – Memorandum of conversation between Hungarian deputy foreign minister Károly Erdélyi and Soviet deputy foreign minister Semjonov on 17 October 1969 in Moscow, (18 October 1969) MOL, M-KS 288 f. 5/501 ő.e.
 Report on the visit of foreign minister János Péter in Moscow on 22-29 December 1969, (6 January 1970) MOL, XIX-J-1-j-Szu-00949-1/1970
 The author is currently working on a major article on Hungary's role in the CSCE process.
 On the reaction of the Hungarian leadership to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan see Csaba Békés, "Why Was There No "Second Cold War" in Europe?", CWIHP Bulletin 14 (forthcoming).
 Two visits of West German politicians were canceled: Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher was to visit Prague, while Chancellor Helmut Schmidt was to have talks with Eric Honecker in Berlin.
 MOL., M-KS-288.f. 5/791.ő.e.
 At the same time, Kádár sent explanatory letters to SPD Chairman Willy Brandt and Chancellor Helmut Smidt.
 István Horváth, István Németh: ...És a falak leomlanak. Magyarország és a német egység (1945–1990). [And the Walls Come Down. Hungary and German Unity (1945-1990)], (Budapest: Magvető Kiadó, 1999), pp. 173-176. Eventually, in 1988, the contract was made and diplomatic relations between Hungary and the EEC were established.
 For a detailed analysis on the international context of the political transition in Hungary see Csaba Békés, "Back to Europe. The International Context of the Political Transition in Hungary, 1988-1990," in The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy, ed. András Bozóki (Budapest-New York: CEU Press, 2002). pp. 237-272
 On Soviet-Hungarian relations during the Gorbachev era see Gorbacsov tárgyalásai magyar vezetőkkel. Dokumentumok az egykori SZKP és MSZMP archívumaiból, 1985–1991 [Gorbachev's Talks with Hungarian Leaders. Documents from the Former Archives of the CPSU and the HSWP, 1985-1991], ed. Magdolna Baráth, János M. Rainer (Budapest: 1956-os Intézet, 2000).
 Károly Grósz's speech made at the meeting of the HSWP PC on 12 July 1988, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/1031 ő.e.
 For an analysis of the Warsaw Pact's general policy concerning East-West relations in this era see Anna Locher, "Shaping the Policies of the Alliance: The Committee of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Warsaw Pact, 1976-1990," PHP website, 2002.
 See e.g. the Report to the HSWP PC and the Council of Ministers on the Warsaw session of
the PCC, 18 July 1988. MOL, M-KS-288 f. 11/4453. ő.e.
 Although the Hungarian leadership had already made it clear that they were ready to negotiate with Romania, by July 1988 they declared that only a meeting between the prime ministers would be possible. (In this way, Károly Grósz could have avoided negotiating personally with Ceauşescu, given that Grósz held the positions of both party first secretary and prime minister at that time.) Károly Grósz's comment at the 12 July 1988 meeting of the HSWP PC, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/1031 ő.e.
 Jacques Lévesque: The Enigma of 1989. The USSR and the Liberation of Eastern Europe. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997) p. 130.
 Gyula Horn's comment at the meeting of the HSWP CC on 21 February 1989, in A Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt Központi Bizottságának 1989. évi jegyzőkönyvei, [The 1989 Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party], eds. Anna S. Kotricz – János Lakos – Némethné Karola Vágyi – László Soós – György T. Varga, vol.1–2 (Budapest: Magyar Országos Levéltár, 1993), vol. 1, p. 362.
 Gyula Horn's comment at the meeting of the HSWP CC, 23-24 July 1989, ibid., vol. 2, p. 1174.
 Record of the meeting of the International, Legal and Public Administration Committee of the HSPW CC held on 9 July 1989, MOL, M-KS-288. f. – 62/5 ő.e
 Reply given by Imre Pozsgay and Rezső Nyers to a question posed by the author at the international conference "Political Transition in Hungary 1989–1990," held in June 1999 in Budapest.
 According to the report given by Rezső Nyers to the HSWP CC on 28 July 1989, Gorbachev stressed at the visit of the Hungarian leaders in Moscow on 24-25 July 1989 that "you must negotiate". In The 1989 Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party, vol. 2, p. 1298.
 Not much earlier, in March 1989, Hungarian diplomacy had officially supported the resolution of the Human Rights Committee of the UN – accepted at the initiation of Western countries – which ordered the investigation of human rights in Romania. 
 Report given by Rezső Nyers to the HSWP CC on 25 July in The 1989 Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party, vol. 2, p. 1300.
 Memorandum of conversation between Rezső Nyers and Milos Yakesh at the Bucharest meeting of the PCC, 12 July 1989. in Political Transition in Hungary, 1989-1990: A Compendium of Declassified Documents and Chronology of Events, eds. Csaba Békés, Malcolm Byrne, Melinda Kalmár, Zoltán Ripp, Miklós Vörös, (Budapest–Washington D.C.: National Security Archive, Cold War History Research Center, 1956 Institute, 1999). Document No. 80.
 Memorandum for the Presidium of the HSWP [Czechoslovak objections concerning Imre Szokai's interview] 14 August 1989, ibid., Document No. 92.
 Since after the resolution of the HSWP PC made on 19 May 1989, a so-called world passport was introduced with which any Hungarian citizen could travel freely to any country of the world any number of times, the sealing of the borders lost its significance. The removal of the sealing was originally proposed as early as the summer of 1987, then it was urged by the Ministry of the Interior from the summer of 1988. Finally at the proposal of the Minister of the Interior on 28 February 1989 the HSWP PC made a resolution to remove the technical sealing on the Hungarian-Austrian and the Hungarian-Yugoslavian borders by 1991. In reality the work was completed in the summer of 1989. cf.: István Horváth, István Németh, op. cit., pp. 329-332.
 Before the fall of the Berlin Wall (9 November 1989), some 60 thousand GDR citizens left for the West through Hungary. ibid., p. 373.
 The two German records made on the meeting can be found in: Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990., Document Nos. 99 and 100.
 Ibid., p. 363.
 Topical questions related to the development of the Warsaw Pact (joint proposal of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Defense), 6 March 1989. Document of the 13 March 1989 meting of the International, Legal and Public Administration Committee of the HSWP CC, MOL, M-KS-288 f. – 62/3. ő.e.
 Proposals of the RCP on the improvement and democratization of the activities of the Warsaw Pact bodies, 8 July 1988. Ibid.
 Miklós Szabó, "From Big Elephant to Paper Tiger: Soviet-Hungarian Relations, 1988-1991," in Lawful Revolution in Hungary, 1989-1994., ed. Béla Király, associate ed. András Bozóki. Social Science Monographs, (Boulder, Colorado: Atlantic Research and Publications, Inc., Highland Lakes, N. J., 1995), pp. 395-411.
 cf.: "Which way to go? Our foreign policy in the changing world." Roundtable talk. Kritika. 1989. 12.
 For the role and strategy of the HSWP in the political transition see Melinda Kalmár,"From 'Model Change' to Regime Change: The Metamorphosis of the MSZMP's Tactics in the Democratic Transition," in The Roundtable Talks of 1989: The Genesis of Hungarian Democracy ed. András Bozóki (Budapest-New York: CEU Press, 2002), pp. 41-69.
 Comment by Gyula Horn at the meeting of the HSWP CC on 20-21 February 1989, in The 1989 Minutes of the Central Committee of the Hungarian Socialist Worker's Party, Vol. 1, p. 362.
 Report to the HSWP PC on Károly Grósz's negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev on 23-24 March 1989 in Moscow, in Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990, Document No. 27.
 Information issued by the Department of International Relations of the HSWP CC for internal use, MOL, M-KS-288 – 11/4508. ő.e.
 In addition, in the spring of 1989 several Hungarian proposals were put forward by the foreign ministry and the ministry of defense: 1. The Soviet Warsaw Pact communication officers stationed in each of the member states must be withdrawn. Instead, the permanent delegates of the member states staying in Moscow must be given more responsibility in matters of coordination. 2. The passage enforcing the Brezhnev doctrine must be removed from the text of the peace and war resolution of the Unified Armed Forces of the Warsaw Pact. 3. The Military Council must be dissolved.
 Minutes of the meeting of the HSWP PC on 16 May 1989, MOL, M-KS-288-5/1065. ő.e.
 On top level Soviet–Hungarian relations see Magdolna Baráth, "Viewed from the 'top': The Soviet Union and the Hungarian transition," unpublished paper presented at the international conference "Political transition in Hungary 1989-1990".
 Károly Grósz's comment made at the meeting of the HSWP CC on 27 September 1988, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 4/242. ő.e.
 Magdolna Baráth, Viewed from the 'top'. p. 4.
 Károly Grósz's speech at the meeting of the HSWP PC on 12 July 1988, MOL, M-KS-288. f. 5/1031. ő.e.
 The security situation of the Hungarian People's Republic and some military objectives. Memorandum by István Földes, advisor of the secretary general of the HSWP, 7 March 1989. Document of the 13 March 1989 meeting of the International, Legal and Public Administration Committee of the HSWP CC, MOL, M-KS-288 f.- 62/3. ő.e.
 Memorandum of conversation between Miklós Németh and Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow, March 3, 1989, in Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990, Document of 6 December 1988.
 Magdolna Baráth, Viewed from the 'top', p. 4.
 Minutes of the meeting of the HSWP PC on 16 May 1989, MOL M-KS-288-5/1065. ő.e.
 Rezső Nyers and Károly Grósz's negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev. Report to the Political Executive Committee (henceforward: PEC) of the HSWP, 30 July, in Political Transition in Hungary 1989-1990, Document No. 84.
 On the process of the pullout of the troops and the Hungarian-Soviet disputes over the withdrawal see György Keleti, "Soviet withdrawals of troops – the history of the military independence of Hungary – the Yugoslavian conflict," in Magyarország politikai évkönyve, 1992 [The Political Yearbook of Hungary, 1992], (Budapest:1992) pp. 380-409.