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Relations with the Soviet Union

In the postwar period, several factors contributed to Soviet influence in Hungary. The Soviet Union maintained a large troop presence in Eastern Europe (see Soviet Influence , ch. 5). The structural characteristics of the Warsaw Pact minimized the independence of East European military establishments and the CPSU exercised significant political influence within the HSWP and the government.

Relations between Hungary and the Soviet Union also depended on a series of more personal factors. Thus, before Gorbachev assumed power in the Soviet Union, the conservative Soviet leadership disapproved of Hungarian reform efforts, and relations between the two countries were therefore cool. After Gorbachev became general secretary of the CPSU and initiated his reform program, the leadership of each country found in the other an ally for its program of economic and political change. Consequently, beginning in mid-1986 relations between Hungary and the Soviet Union warmed considerably.

At the Thirteenth Party Congress, the HSWP stressed the decisive importance of relations with the Soviet Union. At this congress, however, Grigorii V. Romanov, then a hard-line member of the CPSU Politburo and Secretariat, criticized Hungary for its relations with the West. Romanov supported "businesslike contacts" with capitalist countries, but he warned that the socialist countries could not "allow the imperialist forces to use economic levers as a means of political pressure and interference in the affairs of socialist states." Romanov advised Hungary not to go too far in increasing trade and cooperation with the West.

The Twenty-Seventh Party Congress of the CPSU in March 1986 marked the beginning of a steady improvement in relations between Hungary and the Soviet Union. Kadar endorsed the Soviet reform program and drew parallels between the CPSU's party congress and the HSWP's Thirteenth Party Congress. Hungary also supported the Soviet Union's foreign policy and disarmament proposals. In June 1986, Gorbachev visited Hungary for talks with Hungarian party and government leaders. According to the joint communique, both sides shared "fully identical views" on foreign and security policies. Each side pledged to assist the other in accelerating socioeconomic and scientific development.

In the mid- to late 1980s, the Soviet Union sought to expand bilateral economic relations and scientific-technical relations with Hungary. The Soviet Union needed Hungarian scientific and technical expertise as well as economic assistance to strengthen Soviet economic reform. Hungary, by contrast, sought to devote more resources to its trade with the West and with the newly industrialized countries of the Third World.

Soviet efforts to tie Hungary more closely to the Soviet economy and to Comecon have achieved some success. In 1985 Hungary and the Soviet Union signed a long-range economic and scientific-technical program of cooperation to last until the year 2000. The Kadar-Gorbachev talks in 1985 called for the strengthening of scientific-technical cooperation and the development of new forms of cooperation between each country's research institutes, economic enterprises, and work cooperatives. At a meeting between Grosz and Gorbachev in July 1987, the two countries agreed to expand bilateral trade in the 1986-90 period. The two leaders also commissioned a fifteen- to twenty-year plan for developing economic and scientific-technical cooperation between their two countries.

In 1988 two high-level meetings took place between Soviet and Hungarian leaders. In April, Soviet then-President Andrei A. Gromyko visited Hungary to promote the expansion of bilateral ties in light of the changes taking place in both countries. Gromyko met with Kadar, and they expressed a common interest in implementing reform in their own countries and in establishing new kinds of cooperation. Grosz was the first East European leader to visit the Soviet Union after the CPSU's Nineteenth Party Conference in July, a sign of Hungary's close relations with Moscow. Gorbachev praised the HSWP party conference and drew parallels between the reform efforts of both countries. Grosz called his meeting with Gorbachev "useful and valuable" and said that the two countries had never been more in harmony.

Data as of September 1989

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