The Policy of Edvards Benes and his Provisional Czechoslovak Authorities towards General Wladyslaw Sikorski's Polish Government-in-Exile (July 1940-June 1941)
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Edvard Benes decided to put the fall of France (June 1940) to use in order to gain British recognition of the Czechoslovak National Committee as the Provisional Czechoslovak Government (PCzG). The British authorities, however, were not prepared to acknowledge the legal continuation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia and Benes himself was not granted the official status of the head of the Czechoslovak state abroad. Aiming at a further reinforcement of his own position and that of the PCzG on the international arena he tried not only to get an official recognition by the Polish government, but, to create a situation in which he would be de facto treated on par with the Polish President. In all significant political talks with General Władyslw Sikorski, the Polish Prime Minister, Benes decided to opt for a rapprochement with the Polish side for several reasons, the first being the wish of the British side, which planned to create a Polish-Czechoslovak confederation. Second, he wished to prevent eventual contacts between the Polish authorities and his rivals, i. e. Milan Hodza, the former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, and Stefan Osuski, the former Czechoslovak legate in Paris. He also maintained contacts with the Soviet side, hostile both towards Poland and her government. In order to avoid antagonising the Soviet side, he tried to formulate the least possible obligations towards Poland, in this way wishing to, at least initially, pay for Soviet neutrality at the end of the war with Polish eastern territories. From the Polish point of view, Benes was objectively speaking the least suitable candidate for a serious partner of political talks. By imposing the principle of disinteressement as regards his partner's frontiers, he thus a priori rejected the eventuality of supporting his Polish partner's postulates relating to the Soviet Union, which at the time was in a state of war with Poland. Furthermore, Benes did not want to recognise that in October 1938 Poland had regained the same part of Cieszyn Silesia which she had lost as a result of the Czech military invasion in January 1919. Having agreed to the initiation of a discussion with Polish politicians about a postwar sui generis confederation between Poland and Czechoslovakia, he tried to delay concrete negotiations, and was satisfied with an exchange of letters with General Sikorski. Unexperienced in relations with the Soviets, Benes naively believed in the possibility of credible conventions, which would be voluntarily kept by the Soviet partner.
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