Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with William A. Crawford
It's instructive to note that as the time for the talks approached, the Romanian differences with the Russians became intensified. The Romanians, for example, were invited to Khrushchev's [Nikita S. Khrushchev] seventieth birthday party—this is, Dej was invited—in April of '64, and instead of going, Dej abstained and convened his Central Committee. In other words, he chose to hold a long Central Committee meeting precisely during the four or five days when the Khrushchev birthday celebrations were going on, to issue what amounted to a proclamation of political independence. He had already asserted their economic independence in 1963. But this statement went farther and took the Russians to task for having interfered in the past in Romanian Communist party affairs to a considerable degree, and it established the principle that there should be no father-son parties but only brother parties, and so on. So this was more or less the culmination of the derussification campaign. And it was only about two or three weeks later, on May 18, that the Romanians arrived over here, to cap the climax if you will. It was really a pretty risky business to have taunted the Russians to the extent that they had by their Central Committee statement and Dej's refusal to go to the birthday party when all the other Eastern European leaders were going, and then to follow that up by sending a high-level delegation to Washington for the important talks that we proceeded to have with them. A very risky and ticklish business, indeed.
Q: All right. Later, of course, you have the Czech experience thais in our background now, but wasn't then. Why the difference...
CRAWFORD: Why the difference?
Q: ...in the two experiences?
CRAWFORD: Yes, why the Russians moved into...
Q: Yes, why were the Romanians able to get away with it and thCzechs not?