Warsaw Pact

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Distinguish from the Warsaw Convention, which is an agreement among airlines about financial liability.

The Warsaw Pact or Warsaw Treaty, officially named the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance, was a military organization in support of Soviet military interests for the Central European Eastern Bloc countries. It was established in 1955 by the Soviet Union to counter the perceived threat from the NATO alliance (which had been established in 1949). The creation of the Warsaw Pact was prompted by the integration of a "re-militarized" West Germany into NATO via ratification of the Paris Agreements.



All the communist states of Central and Eastern Europe were signatories except Yugoslavia. The members of the Warsaw Pact pledged to defend each other if one or more of the members were attacked. The treaty also stated that relations among the signatories were based on mutual noninterference in internal affairs and respect for national sovereignty and independence - however this would later be violated with the interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

Albania stopped supporting the alliance in 1961 as a result of the Sino-Soviet split in which the hard-line Stalinist regime in Albania sided with the People's Republic of China, and officially withdrew from the pact in 1968.


During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the government, led by Prime Minister Imre Nagy, announced Hungary's withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact. In response, Soviet troops entered Hungary, and crushed the uprising in two weeks, using the Warsaw Pact for a justification. Other Warsaw Pact countries did not participate in the military intervention.

Warsaw Pact forces were utilised at times, such as during the 1968 Prague Spring, when they invaded Czechoslovakia to put down the reform movement that were being led by Alexander Dubček's government.

The chief of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia's military department, Lieutenant General Vaclav Prchlik had already denounced the Warsaw Pact in a televised news conference as an unequal alliance and declared that the Czechoslovak Army was prepared to defend the country's sovereignty by force, if necessary. On August 20, 1968, a force consisting of 23 Soviet Army divisions entered Czechoslovakia. Taking part in the invasion were also one Hungarian, two East German and two Polish divisions along with one Bulgarian brigade. Romania refused to contribute troops. The East Germans did not enter Czechoslovakia, as pact commanders did not want the Czechs drawing parallels to the Nazi invasion.

This intervention was explained by the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the Soviet Union reserved for itself the right to intervene within countries of the pact that were in danger of 'straying' from the teachings of communism, especially those accused of intending to change to capitalism.

After the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Albania formally withdrew from the pact, although Albania had stopped supporting the pact as early as 1962. The Romanian leader, Ceauşescu denounced the invasion as a violation of both international law and of the Warsaw Pact's principle of mutual non-interference in internal affairs, saying that collective self-defense against external aggression was the only valid mission of the Warsaw Pact.

NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries never engaged each other in armed conflict, but fought the Cold War for more than 35 years often through 'proxy wars'. In December 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of the Soviet Union, proposed the so-called Sinatra Doctrine which stated that the Brezhnev Doctrine would be abandoned and that the Central European countries could do as they wished. When it was clear that the Soviet Union would no longer use force to control the Warsaw Pact countries, a series of rapid changes started in Central Europe in 1989, and world Communism collapsed.

When Germany reunited in 3 October 1990, the new united Germany was in law a member of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact both at the same time.

The new governments in Central Europe were much less supportive of the Warsaw Pact, and in January 1991 Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland announced that they would withdraw all support by July 1st that year. Bulgaria followed suit in February, and it became clear that the pact was effectively dead. The pact was officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague on July 1st, 1991.

Post-Warsaw Pact

On 12 March 1999, former Warsaw Pact members and successor states the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland joined NATO. Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia followed suit in March 2004.

On May 1st, 2004, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia became members of the European Union.

On April 1st, 1996, a Russian news corporation wrongly proclaimed that the Russian Parliament was debating a possible revival of the Warsaw Pact. The report circulated around former Warsaw Pact countries, including the already separated Czech Republic and Slovakia, and also Bulgaria. Several hours later, ITAR-TASS, the agency which began the hoax, issued an apology.

See also: Collective Security Treaty Organization and Shanghai Cooperation Organization


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