ÉMIGRÉ CZECHOSLOVAK AUTHORITIES AND THE PERSPECTIVE OF A VISIT BY EDVARD BENES TO MOSCOW (JUNE-OCTOBER 1943)
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In June 1943 the pro-Soviet foreign policy pursued by Edvard Benes encountered serious obstacles created by the British side. The latter had recognised that an alliance involving the Benes team and the Soviet government would further isolate the Polish government-in-exile and make it difficult to induce the Soviet side to re-establish diplomatic relations. Anthony Eden, the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, was not so much against the visit paid by the Czechoslovak leader in Moscow as a friendship, mutual assistance and post-war cooperation treaty, to be signed upon that occasion. At the some time, he referred to the oral ascertainment of June and July 1942, binding both for the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, and relating to the avoidance of alliance treaties with lesser Allied state. The Soviet side refused to acknowledge that it had accepted any sort of limitations and rejected the possibility of Benes's arrival to Moscow without attaining a subsequent political treaty. The President represented a stand claiming that the British and the Soviet Union should resolve such divergences before his planned trip to the USSR. The Czechoslovak authorities started to disclose certain differences in their approach to the whole issue. Jan Masaryk, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, appeared not to advocate a hurried alliance with the Soviet Union. Hubert Ripka, a Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was inclined to accuse Benes of being insufficiently pro-Soviet. The Czechoslovak government, headed by Prime Minister Jan Sramek, fearing the Council of State, in which particular activity was displayed by the communists and their advocates, opted for an anti-British course, thus generating a diplomatic note, the government resolution of 24 September 1943. The British riposte assumed the form of a memorandum of 16 October 1943 in which the British rejected the Czechoslovak thesis maintaining that initially, in April 1943, they had been kindly disposed towards the conception of the Czechoslovak-Soviet alliance and then in June 1943 they had changed their opinion. Benes was greatly displeased with the clash with the British side, and put the blame on Ripka. Ultimately, in the course of the Moscow conference of the ministers of foreign affairs of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States, Eden ceded to Molotov, 24 October 1943, and consented to Benes coming to Moscow for the purpose of signing an alliance treaty. The Czechoslovak President could, therefore, briefly enjoy an illusory satisfaction, unable to understand that the political line accepted by him would render Czechoslovakia a vassal of the Soviet Union.
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