THE IMPACT OF THE EVENTS OF 1968 UPON THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF POLAND
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The year 1968, universally treated as a 'caesura' in the political life of the People's Republic of Poland, is predominated by two episodes, i. e. the so-called March events together with their consequences, and the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. The impact of assorted occurrences upon Polish foreign policy should be considered within the context of the international situation of the period. The fact that Poland was a satellite country limited its political potential and rendered all other factors secondary. March 1968 did not exert prominent influence upon foreign policy, and the West regarded the transpiring developments predominantly as an inner struggle for power. The significance of March 1968 adversely affected the image not so much of the authorities as that of the country as a whole and its citizens. The author claims that the results of the personnel shifts within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should not be exaggerated. Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia and active Polish participation in preparing it contributed to a deterioration of the image of Gomulka, who since 1957 had been consistently losing the approval of Western observers. The support expressed by Brezhnev for the Polish First Secretary denoted a stabilisation of power in Poland, and the resolution of certain doubts concerning political leadership affected Poland's political potential. Gomulka remained the only suitable partner. The Brezhnev doctrine clearly expressed the subconsciously held views of the observers and participants of political life, and reminded all those who still harboured doubts that Moscow remained the decisive member of the Soviet bloc. The events of August 1968 influenced the attitude of the West towards détente in West - East relations. Apparently, the Western states had become more willing to conduct direct talks with the Soviet Union and less so as regards the satellite countries, including all negotiations about the Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The rank held by Warsaw had, therefore, declined. This holds true also for Polish - German relations.
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