The Civic Forum's Position on the Negotiations of its Representatives with Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec
Civic Forum's original demands included "round-table" negotiations between itself and the government following the model used in Poland and Hungary. Unlike the party leadership in those countries, however, the Czechoslovak communists refused to open dialogue with the opposition until their hand was forced by the explosion of protest after November 17. Despite continued conservative resistance, Federal Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec, a moderate communist with reformist sympathies, recognized the increasingly dire situation and wanted to salvage the reformists' position. During the first encounter between Forum and government representatives on November 21, each side tested the other's strengths and limits. Civic Forum presented its four demands and gained the Prime Minister's promise that formal negotiations would begin and that violence wouldn't be used against demonstrators. However, Adamec insisted that the only solution to the crisis was a socialist one. He also demanded that the general strike and demonstrations be called off, arguing that negotiations made these public protests unnecessary. The Forum's reaction can be seen in this communique released the same day. It welcomes the beginning of dialogue, but emphasizes the "informational", i.e. non-binding, character of the meeting and rejects Adamec's calls to end the strike and demonstrations.
The Civic Forum, "Position on the Negotiations of its Representatives with Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec," 21 November 1989, trans. Caroline Kovtun, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).
The Civic Forum’s Position on the Negotiations of its Representatives with Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec
Prague, 21 November 1989
Part of today’s declaration of the government of the CSSR also [contained] information on the meeting of Prime Minister [Ladislav] Adamec with the representatives of the Civic Forum [CF].
The government understood the negotiations to be the beginning of a dialogue and interpreted them in the sense that even this event is testimony to the government’s effort to decisively resolve the rising crisis situation. According to the government, this dismisses the reasons for the organization of strikes and demonstrations.
We proclaim: The meeting between the CF’s representatives and L. Adamec was merely of an informational character, and therefore could not in any way influence our positions. The CF unequivocally supports the strikes of the students, theater artists, sculptors and painters, and supports the call for a general strike on 27 November as well.
We want to contribute to the eventual dialogue by sharing the responsibility of establishing committees which would represent the broadest public and would initiate negotiations on four of the demands of the fundamental declaration of the Civic Forum.
Prague, 21 November 1989.