“Sukarno’s students” in Czechoslovakia: A brief contribution to Czechoslovak–Indonesian relations in the 1950s and the 1960s

Marta Edith Holečková

In the mid-1950s, communist Czechoslovakia established diplomatic relations with several of the newly emerging states in the decolonising world and with states that were leaning towards socialism themselves. In building bilateral relations, Czechoslovak diplomacy often benefited from earlier, interwar cooperation and from traditional interests in the local knowledge of these “exotic” regions acquired during previous trade relations. Whilst the region of Southeast Asia lay largely on the periphery of these interests, the situation radically changed from the middle of the twentieth century. The ideology of “proletarian internationalism” played a key role here, and after 1956 it gave a new impetus to engagement with developing countries, signalling a shift in Soviet (and thus Czechoslovak) foreign policy. Although the Vietnamese are one of the largest national minorities in the Czech Republic today, in the late 1950s high expectations were placed on another state in the region: Indonesia. This study provides a brief reconstruction of the mutual relations between the two countries and the student communities that were formed in Czechoslovakia within this foreign policy context.

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