Primary Sources

Speech by Premier Ladislav Adamec at an extraordinary session of the CPCz CC, stating his preference for a political solution to the crisis

Description

Only days after November 17 a growing number of Czechoslovak communists were becoming convinced that the conservative leadership's hardliner approach to the growing public unrest was failing. This sea change in official opinion began to crystallize on November 24 at the extraordinary session of the Czechoslovak Communist Party's Central Committee, which foreshadowed the ascendancy of younger functionaries and reformers at the expense of the old conservative leaders. In addition to the removal of a few compromised individuals, the session's public statement reflected a more conciliatory attitude, expressing regret for November 17 and suggesting the possibility of dialogue with the opposition. The meeting's speakers included Federal Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec, a reform communist who was the first high-ranking official to make contact with the main opposition group Civic Forum. In this speech, Adamec distanced himself from the discredited conservatives and advocated a "political solution" to the crisis, arguing that communists had to compromise if they wanted to preserve their position. Although reformers ultimately failed to co-opt the popular movement, this new trend in party leadership opened the way for the realization of the round-table negotiations and the peaceful transfer of power from the one-party state.

Source

Ladislav Adamec, "Political Solution to the Crisis", speech, session of the CPCz CC, Prague, November 24, 1989, trans. Todd Hammond, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

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[...] Making decisions is not simple. Events are developing rapidly and aren't the same everywhere. I therefore regard it as my duty to express my opinion of the situation and its resolution. I am aware we don't have much choice. The pressure of circumstances is rising day by day and possibly hour by hour. We have to deal with it. I am considering the alternatives along with everybody else. There are basically two ways to go - both have their advantages and drawbacks, merits and risks. None of them are guaranteed to fully succeed. [...] To explain the first alternative, let us assume that mass demonstrations and the spreading strike movements constitute a direct attack on the socialist establishment, and that therefore there is no other way but to immediately halt all protest actions. [...] One cannot passively watch the law being violated. To allow anarchy would be the direct opposite of democracy, whereas taking extraordinary measures could, if only temporarily, return calm to the streets. But experience with administrative measures has shown a significant risk. After a certain period the situation could explode again, bringing on another crisis, with still more unpredictable results.

For all these reasons, I would clearly prefer the second alternative: a political solution. We must count on making certain acceptable concessions. I believe that we have not nearly exhausted these possibilities. I also rely on the fact that most of our people, including young people, have no reason to be against socialism. They are unsatisfied with many things, even stirred up by all kinds of disinformation, but are able and willing to repay trust with trust. To drive the young generation into the arms of the enemies of socialism would be an unforgivable mistake. This must be prevented under any circumstances. I also advocate political methods because the recent intervention of the forces of order has led to the radicalization of youth, allowed the unification of various groups behind its condemnation, and has not contributed to the authority of either the Party or the state. [...] This warning should not be understood as a call for concessions at any price, without regard to the loss of socialist values.

[...] Today it has come down to the very status of the Party in society. If our meeting helps to energize all its members, it will fulfil its historic mission. If not, we shall pay dearly, and only very slowly repair the damage. I consider it especially important and sensitive to take a position on the basic demands, especially those most often voiced. [...] Let us choose our course so as not to give impetus to further waves of still-more-radical demands. I consider it crucial to announce the calling of another meeting of the Central Committee within a fortnight to evaluate political questions, especially the program of accelerated restructuring and expanded dialogue. We would gain time, mobilize the Party, and improve its level of information on the chosen strategy. [...] I am convinced that only an active approach can put our side on the initiative, and with this we shall also gain the majority of our citizens in favor of Party policy. This is the best reply to the demands of Party organizations for more assistance from the CPCz Central Committee. [...]

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How to Cite this Source

Ladislav Adamec, "Speech by Premier Ladislav Adamec at an extraordinary session of the CPCz CC, stating his preference for a political solution to the crisis," Making the History of 1989, Item #512, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/512 (accessed October 23 2014, 4:45 am).

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