Secretary of State James A. Baker III today called on the Soviet Union to abandon the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine used to justify military intervention to block reforms in communist countries.
In his first speech to an international forum, Baker also announced that President Bush is exploring ways to accelerate the removal of U.S. chemical weapons from West Germany.
He said the Soviet Union has enormous stocks of such weapons threatening Europe and he called on Moscow to join the United States in mutual destruction of “these frightening weapons.”
Baker spoke at a meeting of 35 foreign ministers gathered in Vienna’s Hofburg Palace to launch talks on reducing conventional weapons across Europe.
In a largely conciliatory speech, he urged the Soviet Union to put into practical use the “new thinking” guiding Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s foreign and domestic policies.
“New thinking and the Brezhnev Doctrine are in fundamental conflict,” he said.
“We call today upon General Secretary Gorbachev to renounce the Brezhnev Doctrine--beyond any shadow of a doubt,” he said.
Baker told his fellow ministers that all Europeans should have the freedom “to have a say in decisions which affect their lives” and to express their political differences, as well as the freedom “to be safe from military intimidation or attack.”
“Those in the East,” he said, “should be free of the fear that armed Soviet intervention, justified by the Brezhnev Doctrine, would be used again to deny them choice.”
The doctrine, named for the late Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev, was invoked by Moscow to justify the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush the liberal communist reforms of then party leader Alexander Dubcek.