Primary Sources

Record of Conversation between Representative of the Opposition Roundtable and Boris Stukalin


In the summer of 1989, representatives of the Opposition Roundtable in Hungary met with Boris Stukalin, the Soviet ambassador in Budapest, to discuss the country's political situation. At this meeting, Viktor Orban, a young political figure who was a founding member of the Alliance of Young Democrats (AYD or Fidesz), presented his views about the negotiations between the opposition and the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (HSWP, i.e., the Communist Party). On the one hand, this document conveys a tone of pessimism; Orban was deeply concerned that the Party was ignoring the opposition's suggestions and was unwilling to make changes. On the other hand, the fact that this meeting took place between the opposition and Stukalin points to the impact of the Soviet Union's changing policies both within Hungary as well as between Hungary and the Soviet Union.


Boris Stukalin, conversation with Viktor Orban, 18 August 1989, trans. by Csaba Farkas, Archive of the Black Box Video Studio, Opposition Roundtable-National Roundtable Collection, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

...Viktor Orban [the AYD leader who had given a speech at Imre Nagy's reburial in June and who in 1998 would become Hungary's prime minister]: ... [O]ur generation—that is we, who represent our organization at the Roundtable in the negotiations with the Party—we are of the opinion that one should only look at the facts when assessing the intentions of the [Hungarian Socialist Workers'] Party and the political prospects. That is why we observe with considerable apprehension that the Party ... has made hardly any progress on the most important concrete issues.

... [T]he Party, among other things, has not yet made any concessions on the issue of ending party organizations at workplaces. Neither has the HSWP conceded on the question of abolishing the workers' militia that all representatives at the Roundtable consider unconstitutional. No progress was made to guarantee that the political monopoly of the Party in the army and the police force is eliminated once and for all, so that politics and state service are separated within the armed forces. The Opposition Roundtable made specific suggestions on the issue, which have all been rejected so far.... For according to our political assessment, the main issue is not the elections here; we are quite optimistic about the elections.... What will happen if the HSWP, which, in our estimation and according to the analysis of the recent results, will lose the general elections, still retains authority over all the armed forces, and is the only one to have political bodies at workplaces.

Consequently, we believe that the question of stability, the stability of the transition, and the solution of that issue is in the hands of the HSWP. Should the Party act according to their purportedly democratic conviction on the questions I have raised, the period of transition after the elections will not suffer from instability whatsoever. The ultimate cause of our pessimism is that the HSWP has shown no sign during the last month of heading in that direction....

How to Cite this Source

Alliance of Young Democrats, "Record of Conversation between Representative of the Opposition Roundtable and Boris Stukalin." Making the History of 1989, # 405.