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August 20, 1979

Information Regarding the Meeting and Conversation in the Crimea of L. I. Brezhnev with N. Ceausescu, on 1 August 1979

This document was made possible with support from Blavatnik Family Foundation

To the CC Secretaries of the Moldavian Communist Party


Top Secret


20 August 1979


Information Regarding the Meeting and Conversation in the Crimea of L. I. Brezhnev with N. Ceausescu, on 1 August 1979

At the request of the CC of the CP of Moldavia, V. I. Potapov, the chief of the Romania Sector of the CPSU CC Section, transmitted the following information referring to the meetings and conversations of L. I. Brezhnev with N. Ceausescu.


The meeting did not conclude with a vacation of N. Ceausescu with us, as is the traditional procedure [of the other Pact leaders], N. Ceausescu immediately took a plane to Bucharest.


L. I. Brezhnev informed N. Ceausescu about the course of communist construction in our country and presented a detailed examination of a series of primordial questions regarding Soviet-Romanian relations. L. I. Brezhnev mentioned that, in October 1978, in Bucharest a detailed discussion took place with the Romanian leaders and Cdes Gromiko, Ponomariov, Rusakov, within which the separate approach of Romania towards questions related to bilateral relations, multilateral collaboration of the socialist countries, and international politics was evaluated negatively.


The Soviet side then subjected the publications of the SRR [Socialist Republic of Romania] regarding the so-called “territorial question”, the attitude of the Romanian leaders towards the Warsaw Treaty Organization, [and] towards the Chinese problem to a well-argued criticism. Negative aspects connected with the approach by Romania to some questions such as: halting the arms race and disarmament, European security, implementing the Final Act of the Helsinki Accord, Balkan cooperation, the situation in the Middle East, and in Africa, were analyzed in critical fashion. Using a rich factual material, the lack of principle was demonstrated in the RCP’s position regarding the non-aligned movement, as well as towards the countries with a socialist orientation and the international communist movement. However, “the events which followed,” said L. I. Brezhnev, “have demonstrated that the RCP leadership continues to follow the basically “separate course” of before and even has undertaken a series of actions which accentuate existing divergences. Such a state of affairs worries us very much.


Let’s take, for example, the attitude of Romania towards the Warsaw Treaty Organization: very often, the Romanian position at the meetings of the Political Consultative Committee and at other forums of this organization differs from the common approach of the other participants. We, L. I. Brezhnev said, respect the originality and sovereignty of each socialist country. That also refers in totality to Romania. However, life demonstrates that national interests can only gain from a conjunction of our powers, through the willingness and the intelligence not to act separately, but jointly.


Many other actions of the Romanian representatives at multilateral meetings of the socialist states likewise provoke a great concern. It has now become almost a norm, L. I. Brezhnev remarked, that in our common meetings, once there is talk about the declarations in support of the anti-imperialist struggle of the peoples, the Romanian representatives refuse to sign them. The last example, in this sense, is the meeting in Berlin of the Central Committee secretaries for International and Ideological questions. I admit, I cannot understand why the interests of socialist Romania come into contradiction with solidarity with the struggle of the patriots in Nicaragua or with the efforts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for the establishment of a lasting peace in Southeast Asia. You should think about that.


L. I. Brezhnev demonstrated with concrete examples the inconsistency of the separate approaches in the relations with China. He mentioned especially that at the meeting last year in the Crimea N. Ceausescu affirmed that, apparently, China is devoted to the cause of peace. However the facts have demonstrated the contrary. In truth, over half a year ago, China started an aggression against Vietnam. Only after receiving a powerful riposte and meeting with a decisive condemnation of its policy of banditry by the international community was Beijing forced to withdraw its troops. With all of that, the Chinese provocations against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia multiplied, at the Sino-Vietnamese negotiations the PRC [People’s Republic of China] representatives shamelessly demanded that Vietnam submit to their dictate.


L. I. Brezhnev noted that, in practical policy in the Middle East, the actions of Romania are increasingly channeled into a direction contrary to the actions of the Soviet Union, [and to those] of the other socialist countries.


Referring to the so-called “territorial question,” L. I Brezhnev said that in the cooperation between our countries much depends on the reciprocal political understanding between the parties. Last autumn, in Bucharest, after our meeting in Crimea, following the accord between our comrades and yours, a detailed discussion took place in which the position of our Politburo on this question was expressed in all clarity and it remains unchanged. Nevertheless the fact is that our bilateral relations have become more complicated. Too often we see ourselves compelled to deal not with the elaboration of some common actions oriented to the future, but to return to the historic past, to speak time and again about the problems we have broached in our discussions.


Here, N. Ceausescu profited from a pause and said that the declaration signed in 1976 constituted a good basis for our reciprocal relations, including for the so-called “territorial question.” It is true, he added, that a series of problems still appear, especially those connected with publications on historical themes. Before coming here, our comrades handed me a long list of materials published on this theme in the Soviet press, especially in the Moldavian press.[1] I propose that our historians debate this problem. And put an end once and for all to these problems. They must not cast a shadow over our relations.


Continuing the idea referring to this question, L. I. Brezhnev said that “we do not desire to engage in a polemic with the Romanian comrades, however, we say openly that in this case much will depend upon us. We are in agreement with you: the publications on historical questions must no longer appear. We both know what this is about. We should consider that we have understood each other on this question. We are certain that that understanding would be useful for the Romanian Communist Party, for the entire Romanian people.


N. Ceausescu immediately declared himself in agreement.


In conclusion, L. I. Brezhnev said: In 1976 in Bucharest, we signed a good common declaration. In 1978, in Moscow, within the framework of the CCP Meeting, we signed a declaration where we drew a coordinated line on international questions. There is a vast territory for cooperation based on parity. However here there is need for “common efforts, common actions, expressed not only in words but also in deeds. If that will be done, then the work done in common will be repaid a hundred-fold.”


During the discussion, N. Ceausescu adopted a defensive strategy, overtly reconciliatory. Seeking to attenuate the divergences, he affirmed that Romania has gone and will go together with the other member countries of the Warsaw Pact in the principal directions of international policies, such as détente, disarmament, security in Europe, the support for liberation movements.


In contrast with preceding meetings, in fact, N. Ceausescu did not start by contradicting the criticisms brought against Chinese policy, he did not attempt to justify it, and declared that Romania condemns the Chinese aggression in Vietnam. At the same time, he confirmed the already known Romanian position towards the events in Cambodia and tied the positive evaluation of the beginning of Soviet-Chinese negotiations to customary affirmations regarding the positive changes in the internal life of China.


Apart from this, N. Ceausescu tried to justify the separate actions of A. Sadat, and pronounced himself once again for the organization of an international conference referring to the Middle East.


Making a balance of the conversation, L. I. Brezhnev returned to the situation in South-East Asia, where one of the most dangerous focal points of international tension has been created. He subjected the policy of Romania in this region to profound criticism, saying that the installation of peace in South-East Asia depends to a great measure on each socialist country, of their willingness to act in an internationalist spirit.


During the meeting, N. Ceausescu addressed the request to us for selling Soviet oil to Romania, because it is confronted at present with an acute problem of energetic equilibrium. The payment for Soviet petrol could be effected either in hard currency or with alimentary produce, including meat. In compensation they (the Romanians) oblige themselves to sell petroleum products to Moldavia, to the Ukraine and to other regions of the USSR situated near Romania.


L. I. Brezhnev responded: “This is a very complicated problem. The issue is that we do not have a surplus of petrol, all the resources, up until the last ton, are calculated and distributed for many years before.”


The CPSU CC considers that this conversation between L. I. Brezhnev and N. Ceausescu was, in general lines, useful from the perspective of the interests of the USSR and of the other fraternal countries, because it offered the possibility to express the general line regarding the most important problems of international politics and to demonstrate the inconsistency of the Romanian positions.


At the same time, taking into consideration the experience of the past, we have no basis for anticipating essential changes in the practical policy of the Romanian leadership.


The CPSU will continue in the future as well, in perseverant and consequent fashion, to limit the maximum damage that results from the “separate course” of the Romanian leaders to the socialist community. In this aim, our party considers that it is necessary to exercise influence over N. Ceausescu, subjecting to criticism the Romanian policies that are damaging to the common course of the socialist fraternal states.


First Deputy chief of the Section for Information and Relations with Foreign Countries of the CC of the CP of Moldavia,


(signature) M. Mumji.

[1] Translator’s note: In conformity with common usage at the time, the terms “Moldavia” and “Moldova” are used to differentiate the territory and populations residing in the Moldavian SSR and in the northeastern province of Moldova in Romania, respectively. However, the Romanian language as used both in Romania proper as well as in Moldavia/Moldova employs the same term (“Moldova”) for both. Before the Russian empire extended into the region in the 18th century the term “Moldova” referred to one territorial unit that included both Romanian Moldova and most of the territory that eventually comprised the Moldavian SSR (as well as the Bugeac/Budjak region now in Ukraine). After 1989 the US State Department Geographer officially designated the English variant of the new independent state as the Republic of Moldova while referring to the Romanian province as “Moldavia” for purposes of differentiation, thus reversing previous practice. The terms “Moldavians” and “Moldovans” to differentiate between the majority inhabitants of the Moldavian SSR and the Romanian province are also employed here in conformity with common American usage at that time, although both populations referred to themselves as Moldovans, then and now.

V.I Potapov informs on the discussion between Brezhnev and Ceausescu in Crimea in 1979. The Soviets are worried about the separate course followed by the RCP leadership with regards to domestic and international issues. Topics involve the Soviet criticism of the publications of the SRR regarding the Moldavian “territorial question”, the attitude of the Romanian leaders towards the Warsaw Treaty Organization, and towards the Chinese problem.

Document Information


Document No. 5 in Gheorghe Negru, “Disputa dintre URSS si RSR privind tratarea istoriei relatiilor ruso- si soviet-române” [The Dispute Between the USSR and the RSR Regarding the Historical Treatment of Russo- and Soviet-Romanian Relations], Destin românesc [Romanian Destiny], no. 3-4 (2010), pp. 201-203; Archive of the Social-Political Organizations in Moldova [AOSPRM], fond 51, inv. 50, dosar 6, filele 80-85. Translated for CWIHP by Larry L. Watts.


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