HC Deb 19 March 1970 vol 798 cc607-8
Q4. Mr. Onslow

asked the Prime Minister whether he intends to make an official visit to Czechoslovakia this year.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Mr. Onslow

Does the right hon. Gentleman remember telling the House on 5th February that our general contact with the Russians over the Treaty of Friendship had been much set back by the events in Czechoslovakia 18 months ago? Would he now tell us what sudden access of freedom has occurred in Czechoslovakia to justify his renewing overtures to the Kremlin?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure to what the hon. Gentleman is referring when he says "overtures to the Kremlin," but he will remember that the House expressed horror over the action in Czechoslovakia in the emergency recall of Parliament in August, 1968.

Those events led to a very severe cooling off of relations between this and other Western countries and the Eastern bloc. I have given a number of reports to the House on the resumption of certain contacts. That in no way qualifies what we have felt about the Czechoslovak events —I know that that feeling is shared by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends—and it does not mean any acceptance by us of the so-called Brezhnev doctrine.

Mr. Heffer

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that it is important that we should resume our contacts with the Russians, while not accepting their policy in Czechoslovakia? Would he indicate to the House that the Government give full support to the efforts of Herr Willy Brandt to improve the situation from the point of view of European security?

The Prime Minister

I believe that I have made that clear. If there is any doubt about it, I think that it was shown by the great reception which was given by all sections of opinion in the House and in the country to the recent visit of the German Chancellor. Nobody will underrate the supreme importance of the talks which started in East Germany this morning. I discussed these questions and their prospects with the Chancellor. Nobody would expect rapid results, after 20 years of German history, but I know that the good wishes of the whole House go out to Herr Brandt in the talks, in the initiative in which he has shown such great courage and statesmanship.

Forward to