Despite the enthusiasm of the domestic population and foreign press, the Prague Spring – an attempt to reform and democratise the communist regime in Czechoslovakia – had its limits. Politicians feared that the reforms in Czechoslovakia would be brought to a halt by a military invasion of the Soviet army, just like in Hungary in 1956. That’s why they tried to appease the Soviet Union in the summer of 1968. On one side of this unequal dialogue were these negotiations, which took place in a small town on the Czechoslovak-Soviet (now Slovak- Ukrainian) border in early August 1968.
The content of the negotiations is not so important; instead, we would like to direct your attention towards the conditions and atmosphere surrounding them. For example, there’s the unusually open way in which Czechoslovak television discussed and described the behind-the-scenes events at the negotiations, which clearly shows how independent the media became during Prague Spring. The guiding motive of the news reel is the idea that Czechoslovakia had to convince the Soviet Union that the reforms did not mean that it was leaving the Eastern Bloc, but instead represented a reasonable request for its own path to socialism, based on domestic conditions. At the same time, the report captures the atmosphere of a nervous and uncertain outcome of the negotiations, which were based more on faith and hope than on genuine trust between the partners.