“Interkit”: An International against China? Policy Coordination and National Interests in the Soviet Bloc in the Second Half of the Cold War
12.05.2011 um 14:00 bis
13.05.2011 um 18:30
|Wo||FRIAS Seminarraum EG, Albertstr. 19|
Concept and Organization: Péter Vámos, External Senior Fellow
One of the key questions of the history of East-Central European states between 1949-1989 is: to what extent could local political leaderships represent national interests, and to what extent were they mere executors of Soviet interests? In other words, where were the limits of political actions at home and in international relations and what were the domestic and international factors that defined those limits?
The aim of the proposed workshop is to shed new light on the mechanisms of cooperation and conflicts within the socialist world, and to answer the question: how differences in political and cultural traditions and geopolitical locations interacted under the influence of the Soviet Union. In order to achieve this goal, the workshop analyzes the relationship of East-Central European countries with the People’s Republic of China. The workshop aims to highlight the similarities and differences between the China policies of different Soviet bloc countries, and between strategies of individual countries to articulate their national interests against the background of pressure from the Soviet Union. During the 1960s and 1970s, the China question concerned the vital interests of Moscow because China, the only major player of the Cold War that switched sides during the confrontation, posed a challenge to the leadership role of the Soviet Union within the international communist movement.
The focus of the proposed workshop is on Interkit. The phrase, never exactly defined but widely used in the socialist world, means, strictly speaking, a series of meetings of representatives from the International Departments (the highest foreign policy organ within the Central Committee) of seven ‘fraternal’ parties from socialist countries (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, and the USSR) on China between 1967 and the mid-1980s. However, it also covers the whole coordination process of China policies of the Soviet bloc, including economic and trade relations (‘economic Interkits’), cultural contacts and China related research (‘Interkit’ meetings of sinologist) as well as propaganda.
The question to what degree Soviet influence may have played a decisive role in intra-bloc relations and the Soviet bloc’s relations with China is clear in general terms, but is hardly known in its details. The in-depth analysis of the coordination process of China-policies can contribute to our better understanding of the inner structure of the Soviet bloc as well as of the relationship between the Soviet bloc and China, first of all by highlighting the role of mutual perceptions defined by cultural differences in shaping intra-bloc and bilateral relations. The proposed workshop identifies formal and informal mechanisms of Soviet control deriving from the generally accepted hierarchy within the Soviet bloc with the Soviet Union as the power center of the socialist camp and with subordinate quasi-independent states with their own agendas originating in their political and cultural traditions and geopolitical locations. Therefore the relationship between the Soviet bloc and China is studied at two levels. One is the level of the relations between the Soviet Union and its ECE satellites, and the other is the dynamics of the relations of those satellites with the PRC. Through this new approach and by matching the European and non-European considerations, the aim of the workshop is to reconsider intra-Soviet bloc and Sino-Soviet relations in their global dimension. Through the in-depth analysis of the coordination of China policies, it is possible to grasp the inner structure of policy coordination within the Soviet bloc, and at the same time, by relating the case studies to each other, put the problem into perspective and context.