Country Listing

Czechoslovakia Table of Contents

Czechoslovakia

Policy Making and Administration

The principal foreign policy decision-making body is the KSC. Within the party the decision-making responsibility resides in the Presidium of the KSC Central Commmittee, which is aided by the party's Department of International Affairs. The department provides pertinent information and policy recommendations to the Presidium, channels the party's decisions to the appropriate government agencies, and supervises the implementation of policy.

The extent of Soviet influence on Czechoslovakia's foreign policy suggests that major policy decisions by the party hierarchy receive prior approval from Moscow. The precise mechanics of Soviet control are not certain, but it is likely that Moscow exercises its authority through frequent bilateral and multilateral consultations involving high-level party and government officials. Czechoslovak and Soviet officials met frequently throughout the 1970s and first half of the 1980s in sessions that included ad hoc summit meetings, sessions of the Warsaw Pact's Political Consultative Committee, Comecon meetings, Soviet and East European party congresses, bilateral meetings between party leaders, and lower level policy meetings, such as those of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Warsaw Pact. The continued presence in Czechoslovakia of five ground divisions and two air divisions of Soviet troops undoubtedly contributed to Soviet influence.

Within the federal system of government, the bulk of administrative responsibility for foreign affairs falls on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, to a lesser extent, on the Ministry of Foreign Trade. These ministries are under the supervision of the premier in his role as head of government. The president, however, as head of state, not only chooses the premier and ministers of foreign affairs and foreign trade but is also constitutionally mandated to represent the nation in its external relations and to appoint diplomatic envoys. Committees on foreign relations exist in both chambers of the Federal Assembly. Sometimes these committees are given specific assignments in policy analysis and serve as channels through which the regime submits foreign policy legislation to the assembly. All foreign policy legislation requires passage by both chambers of the Federal Assembly.

The central organ for implementation of foreign relations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is charged with the direction, coordination, and implementation of foreign policy and the protection of Czechoslovak national interests in international affairs. It also has a role as a coordinating agency for other federal and republic organs; it is supposed to provide them with knowledge of the government's foreign policies and to ensure their cooperation with those policies. In 1987 the ministry was organized into ten geographic departments, ten functional and administrative sections, two training institutes, and one international relations society. Each of the subdivisions was headed by a director and a deputy director. The entire operation of the ministry functioned under the direction of the minister of foreign affairs (in early 1987 Bohuslav Chnoupek, who had assumed the post in 1971), a first deputy minister, five additional deputy ministers, and offices for the minister's secretariat and general secretariat.

The ministry's administrative sections in 1987 included departments for administration of foreign cultural establishments; administration of services to the diplomatic corps; basic foreign policy questions; consuls; cultural, educational, scientific, and health relations; diplomatic protocol; international economics; international law; international organization; and press. Also under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were the Institute of International Relations (for which the Central Committee of the KSC holds joint responsibility), the Czechoslovak Foreign Institute, and the Czechoslovak Society for International Relations.

The Ministry of Foreign Trade is considerably smaller than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1987 it was led by a minister, two first deputy ministers, and seven other deputy ministers. It also contained departments organized according to geographic region, economic system, and level of economic development. Other components of this ministry included the Central Customs Administration and the Legal Affairs Department.

Data as of August 1987


Country Listing

Czechoslovakia Table of Contents