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The Decline of Czechoslovak Influence in Africa (1962–68)

  • Philip Muehlenbeck

Abstract

Czechoslovakia’s attempt to build intensive relations with the African continent, which continually intensified during the years 1955–61, began to decline in 1962. The reasons that Czechoslovakia’s influence in Africa began to wane were many. An economic crisis in the ČSSR prompted officials to reexamine Czechoslovak foreign policy and especially its economic assistance expenditures to Africa. At the same time, African students returned from studying in the ČSSR disenchanted with their firsthand experience with communist society, while African governments became frustrated with the levels and types of aid they were receiving from the Soviet bloc, which was not meeting their expectations of significantly improving their economies or the living standards of their people. John F. Kennedy’s election as president of the United States also played a significant role. Under his leadership, the United States dramatically increased its interest in Africa, which provided the Soviets and Czechoslovaks greater competition for influence on the continent. Likewise, a change in leadership in Moscow from Nikita Khrushchev to Leonid Brezhnev meant that while the United States was increasing its interest in Africa, the Soviet Union’s was waning. By the middle of the decade, a series of coup d’états overthrew most of Czechoslovakia’s closest African allies and replaced them with pro-Western governments which served to further weaken the ČSSR’s influence on the continent. The final death blow for Czechoslovakia’s African policy would prove to be the Prague Spring reform movement, which toppled from power the KSČ party leaders who had been responsible for implementing Czechoslovakia’s involvement with Africa.

Keywords

German Democratic Republic Diplomatic Relation Soviet Bloc African Student Communist Society 
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Notes

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© Philip Muehlenbeck 2016

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  • Philip Muehlenbeck

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