The four-day visit to West Germany of Czechoslovak President Gustav Husak ended today and West German and other Western diplomats say the most significant thing about the trip was that it actually took place.
The visit to Bonn was the first trip to any Western country made by Husak since he came to power as party leader in 1969 after a Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion force put an end to the brief fling with the liberal brand of communism of Alexandria Dubcek in the so-called "Prague Spring" of 1968.
His trip therefore marks what may be Czechoslovakia's first cautious steps in end its general isolation from the West since the 1968 events.
Husak's regime is widely viewed not only as one of the most repressive within the Soviet bloc but also as one of the least imaginative. Prague's handling of internal dissidents and the charter 77 human rights campaigners have been viewed as so inept that it has even run into criticism from other Communist states.
The Prague government also has serious economic problems and trade imbalances with the West. Husak also came here seeking to expand economic relations and, most importantly, to try and get the West Germans to buy more Czechoslovak products to help ease the imbalances.
This trip to the West for Husak may also have been undertaken at some political risk for him. Failure to bring back some significant benefits could strengthen the even more conservative wing of the party who prefer to remain isolated from the West.
The degree of Czechoslovakia's isolation is considerable.
Husak was the only East European leader who had not visited West Germany, even though Bonn is Parague's biggest trading partner in the West and the Czechoslovaks are West Germany's third largest customer in the Eastern bloc.
The fact, West German President Walter Scheel has pointed out that - aside from visits to East Germany - this visit is actually the first by any Czechoslovak head of state to western Germany in the 60 years since formation of Czechoslovakia.
Husak did not receive a warns public welcome here. He was attacked for his government's stand on human rights by various civil rights, church and emigre groups here, and in press commentary and by some politicians.
The Bonn government registered its official ddisapproval of Prague's human rights policies in a speech by scheel, who said that the German people are concerned not only with governmental relations "But also with the conditions of ordinary people in neighboring countries."
There were no major new agreements signed but high-ranking West German officials believe that in fact this was a successful first trip and claim that Husak feels the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] way.
"I'm sure they will measure it by other means than just what he brings back," one top-west German official said. "It really was a successful meeting. There was some substance. But the central point is that we are neighbors with a long common border and a long history of trouble between us, a lot of it understandable. This will be good for the neighborhood."
The official acknowledged that importing more Czech Oslovak products here is difficult because they don't measure up in quality to what is available in the West. Yet a number of small projects are said to be in the works. Husak met with several industrialists, and the two countries have pledged to upgrade their economic meetings and to have their foreign ministers meet at least once a year.
Czechoslovakia is the only East-bloc country that has not signed a cultural, educational and technological agreement with Bonn and the groundwork for one was laid during the visit.
"I think they have watched the rest of Eastern Europe open up and expand ties to the West, especially to West Germany," said an American diplomat, "and maybe now they have decided to try the same thing."
West Germany officials, after the four-day visit, also disputed the image of Husak as the most indecisive and unimaginative leader in the East. "We do not consider him to be just a puppet of Moscow. He has strong ideas of his own," one senior official said.