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Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1945

Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1945 — treaty concerning Transcarpathian Ukraine/Subcarpathian Rus’. Under pressure from the Soviet leader, Iosif Stalin, this treaty needed to be signed in order to obviate any discussion of the Subcarpathian problem within the framework of the eventual post-World War II peace conference (1947). On the recommendation of Czechoslovakia’s president Edvard *Benes, the treaty (prepared in Russian, Czech, and Slovak) was signed in Moscow by that country’s prime minister, Zdenek Fierlinger, and its minister of foreign affairs, Vladimir Clementis; the Soviet signatory on the recommendation of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR was the vice-chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Soviet minister of foreign affairs, Viacheslav Molotov.

The Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty signed on June 29, 1945 consisted of two articles. According to article 1, “*Transcarpathian Ukraine (called *Subcarpathian Rus’ according to the Czechoslovak constitution), which on the basis of the *Treaty of St. Germain (September 10, 1919) formed an autonomous component of the Czechoslovak republic, is, in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants of Transcarpathian Ukraine and the fraternal agreement between the above-mentioned parties, being united with its age-old fatherland—Ukraine—and thereby being incorporated into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.” Article 2 stated that the treaty was confirmed (ratified) by the Czechoslovak National Council (Parliament) and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.

On November 22, 1945, Czechoslovakia’s Provisional National Council ratified the treaty. This was in violation of the Czechoslovak constitution, which allowed for decisions of a constitutional nature, including changes in the country’s borders, to be taken only by a National Council composed of deputies chosen through general elections, not the designated deputies who comprised the Provisional National Council. Hence, according to Czechoslovakia’s constitution, the ratification of the 1945 treaty was not juridically valid. It was, in effect, a political act carried out under pressure from Stalin. Moreover, the fact that the treaty, concluded by two legal entities, concerned a third entity that did not even take part in the negotiations, is reminiscent of the Munich Pact of 1938. In other words, from the standpoint of international law the political act carried out in 1945 between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union was discriminatory against the subject of the treaty, Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathian Ukraine, which had no representatives, even with observer status, during the negotiations. Nor did the treaty carry the signature of a representative from the Soviet Ukraine, the entity to which Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathian Ukraine was being united, although the Soviet Ukraine was at the time a founding member of the United Nations and therefore legally an active party in international relations. Stalin had delegated Soviet Ukraine’s right to act to the Soviet Union’s minister of foreign affairs, V. Molotov.

Consequently, the Czechoslovak-Soviet Treaty of 1945 was in violation of a whole series of international legal norms as well as of the Czechoslovak constitution; in other words, it had no legal force from its inception. With the demise of the Soviet Union (1991) and Czechoslovakia (1993) the states which had signed the 1945 treaty themselves disappeared. Their legal successors—Russia, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia—did not express any view regarding their relationship to the 1945 treaty, with the result that Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathian Rus’ found itself in a juridical vacuum. In other words, the Czechoslovak-Soviet treaty only confirmed a process that had already begun in the fall of 1944, namely the annexation of Subcarpathian Rus’/Transcarpathian Ukraine by the Soviet Union.

The treaty included an addendum (protokol) guaranteeing to *Czechs and *Slovaks living in Subcarpathian Rus’ the right to claim (*optatsiia) Czechoslovak citizenship, and to *Ukrainians and *Russians living in Czechoslovakia the right to claim Soviet citizenship. The addendum also established the principle of compensation for the property of Czechs and Slovaks who decided to leave Subcarpathian Rus’. The above procedures were to be carried out within 18 months of the signing of the treaty. Property owned by the Czechoslovak state in Subcarpathian Rus’ was transferred outright to the Soviet Union without any compensation. The railroad hub at Chop and the immediately surrounding area, which had been a part of Slovakia before 1945, was likewise transferred to the Soviet Union. As compensation Slovakia received some territory along the western edge of the Uzhhorod district as well as the village of Lekarovce/Lekart, whose inhabitants had petitioned successfully for the transfer.

Bibliography: Sovetsko-chekhoslovatskie otnosheniia 1945-1960 rr.: dokumenty i materialy (Moscow, 1971); N.M. Barinova et al., eds., Vostochnaia Evropa v dokumentakh rossiiskikh arkhivov 1944-1953 gg., Vol. I: 1944-48 (Moscow and Novosibirsk, 1997); Karel Kaplan and A. Spiritova, eds., CSR a SSSR 1945-1948: dokumenty mezivladnich jednani (Brno, 1997); Tomas Brod, Ceskoslovensko a Sovetsky svaz v letech 1939-1945: Moskva, objeti a pouto (Prague, 1992); Jaromir Horec, Podkarpatska Rus—zeme neznama (Prague, 1993); Ivan Pop, “Iak nas viddavaly, abo troiandy dlia prysluzhnykiv Mekhlisa—Praha 1945 roku: uriadovi i parlaments’ki dyskusii dovkola pytannia pro peredachu Zakarpattia SRSR,” Karpats’kyi krai, V, 5-8 [111] (Uzhhorod, 1995), pp. 82-88.

Ivan Pop

Entry courtesy of Encyclopedia of Rusyn History and Culture.
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