Warsaw Pact Admits Mistakes in Hungary, Czechoslovakia
Jun. 16, 1990
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ The Warsaw Pact admitted past errors, including the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the Soviets' crushing of the Hungarian uprising 12 years earlier, East Germany's defense minister said Friday.
After a three-day Warsaw Pact meeting outside East Berlin, the Soviet commander of the group's military forces acknowledged dissent within the ranks of the once rock-solid alliance.
With last year's pro-democracy revolutions in Eastern Europe, the seven- nation Warsaw Pact has been facing increasing pressures from within. East German Defense Minister Rainer Eppelmann has even predicted the breakup of the pact's military structures by the end of this year.
''The defense ministers for the first time clearly discussed the past errors of the Warsaw Pact,'' Eppelmann told a news conference following the meeting in the suburb of Strausberg.
Eppelmann specifically mentioned as examples the Warsaw Pact invasion to put down the Prague Spring revolution by reform Communists in 1968, and the Soviets' repression of an anti-Communist revolt in Hungary in 1956.
''The situation has changed so much that relics from the division of the continent must be overcome,'' Eppelmann told reporters. He did not say in what form the Pact admitted the errors.
However, Defense Minister Miroslav Vacek of Czechoslovakia said earlier his colleagues ''apologized to a certain extent'' for the military intervention 22 years ago.
Speaking about this week's meeting, the Soviet commander of Warsaw Pact forces said there were ''differences of opinion regarding the prospects of the Warsaw Pact.''
Gen. P.G. Lushev also acknowledged differences on the ''development of the function and character'' of the pact, but he appealed to Moscow's allies to continue fulfilling their obligations.
Hungary and Czechoslovakia have already received promises of large pullouts of Soviet troops from their nations.
''As long as there is a Western alliance, there will be a Warsaw Pact,'' Lushev said. The military alliance was founded in 1955. It has been a counterbalance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Western alliance, during the Cold War.
The coming unification of the two Germanys was one of the dominant questions at the defense ministers' meeting.
Eppelmann, the East German defense chief, said he was suggesting Sept. 1, 1992, as the date for full unification. That date is far later than the general timeframe envisioned by West German officials.