The USSR and FRG’s “New Ostpolitik”

Alexey M. Filitov – Doctor of History, Chief Research Associate, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor in Russian State University for Humanities (RGGU), 119334, Moscow, Russia, Leninski Prospect 32 a.
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The article explores the changes in the mutual perceptions between the FRG and the USSR from mid-60s through early 70s of the 20th century, which became a precondition for the détente in their relationship. It is based largely on the analysis of the documents stored in the Archive of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation and recently released for the researchers. The author highlights the initiatives by Willy Brandt as a Foreign Minister in 1966–1969 and subsequently as a Federal Chancellor in breaking the deadlock in Bonn’s foreign policy created by his predecessors. It is emphasized that those initiatives found the positive response from the Soviet side. A reversal movement towards a regime of confrontation took place under conditions of the Czechoslovak crisis of 1968 (“Prague spring”), but its impact was rather short-lived. With the government of Social-Liberal coalition coming to power in October 1969, the Federal Republic’s course to the détente took the firmer contours (joining the Non-Proliferation Treaty, positive attitude to the All-European Conference, beginning the negotiations with the USSR), and the process of the normalization between West and East in the Central Europe accelerated. The complicating factor was the dogmatic positions taken by some leaders of “socialist community” countries (in Poland and GDR in particular) as well as by some representatives of the Soviet diplomatic corps. Critically scrutinized in this context are the attempts to promote the course towards the “fencing-off” in the German-German relations as dictated by the theory of “two German nations”. The examples of confronting those mindsets are cited – in particular, from the exponents of the nascent civil society in the USSR (the case of the “Spiegel” interview by the Soviet expert on Germany D.E. Melnikov in the first month of 1970). The positions of the détente supporters both in the USSR and in the FRG turned out to be strong enough for a conclusion of the Moscow Treaty on August 12, 1970,– a hall-mark of Soviet-West German rapprochement. The historical experience of overcoming the “enemy image” in the relationship between the Soviet Union and the FRG has a great practical value for the solution of the present-day international conflicts.

Key words: New Eastern Policy, All-European Conference, Warsaw Treaty, Non-Use of Force Talks, “Ulbricht (or Gomulka) Doctrine”.

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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-3-54-123-140 (Read the article in PDF)