restricted access Document No. 14: Transcript of Bulgarian (BCP CC) Politburo Meeting, October 25, 1980
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119 Document No. 14: Transcript of Bulgarian (BCP CC) Politburo Meeting October 25, 1980 Poland’s “fraternal allies” in the Warsaw Pact reacted with varying degrees of concern to the August strikes and their aftermath. Bulgaria’s Todor Zhivkov, traditionally a close adherent to the Soviet line, was not as vocal as some of his fellow leaders but clearly took a hard-line stance toward the crisis. At the heart of the Bulgarian leader’s concerns is the possible spread of popular disaffection to other memberstates of the bloc, with potentially far-reaching consequences. Although these discussions frequently blame Western interference for such crises, several interesting and candid points are raised below about the mass scale of the internal opposition in Poland and the restraining role being played by Western countries. […] Petûr Mladenov: […] A few words about Poland. Everything said in comrade Zhivkov’s letter is principled and true. The counter-revolutionary forces in Poland are, to our great regret, on an active offensive. These counter-revolutionary forces have already become conscious of their own strength. The continuous retreat of the PUWP and its leaders and our silence, comrade Zhivkov—I have in mind our silence as a community, as the Warsaw Pact, since we are writing something and saying something—gives the counter-revolutionary forces in Poland confidence that they can achieve right away, at this stage, something more. At the same time fear of an internal reaction on the part of the [security] forces , such as the militia, is observed among them. It turns out that the militia is a detachment of 70,000 people armed with modern weapons, including machineguns , armored carriers etc. These are arms which can be used not only in street actions, but also to fight a battle. Todor Zhivkov: Plus the workers’ detachments. Petûr Mladenov: This is the internal militia. Their leaders have said they are ready to act, but a political decision is needed. Someone has to decide that. By the way, I think that there is a fear among the counter-revolutionary forces of a certain reaction on the part of the army or the militia. Fear is being shown concerning eventual outside interference. And at the same time I think that it is correct to see that the West, too, is afraid of a conflict on a large scale. Alexander Lilov: Through Poland it may well be possible. Petûr Mladenov: At the moment the Western countries such as the Federal Republic of Germany, and both the USA and France, if you like, are playing a restraining role in regard to the extremes of the counter-revolution in Poland. 120 So that it can be noted that the internal counter-revolutionary forces, on the one hand, exult, and on the other hand show signs of nervousness for the future. There is the following question: sometimes we compare what is happening in Poland with what happened in Czechoslovakia. I think there is an essential difference. It is true that the aims are more or less the same. But the essential difference , in my opinion, is in the fact that while in Czechoslovakia, Jiři Pelikan and [Alexander] Dubček came out as separate heroes and personalities, here the masses in their millions came out. This is the essential difference. They are already speaking of eight million Solidarity with their trade unions. About the PUWP’s stand. For me, at least, there are many unclear things. I agree with what Comrade Zhivkov has written and analyzed. I do not know how it will seem to you, it may be very exaggerated, but it seems to me that everything that is happening in Poland at the moment is with the consent of the senior party leadership of Poland. What they call renewal is, in my opinion, a search for a new model of socialism. What does renewal in the Polish way mean? It is a search for a new model of socialism, a model that will differ from what we understand by socialism. We say that maybe they will be [inclined] towards the Yugoslav model. I am afraid that they will not go towards the Yugoslav model, they are rather seeking a model that would get them near to Sweden or to Austria under [Chancellor Bruno] Kreisky, a model which would have pluralism in the sphere of politics and of ideology. They will not go towards de-nationalizing the factories and plants. Those will remain state [property]. There are such in...