Based on a comparative analysis of new evidence from the Russian and EU archives, the article shows the significance of the three meetings between Nikita Khrushchev and Paul-Henri Spaak in 1956, 1961, and 1963. The text highlights both new facts about Soviet-Belgium relations (and even wider, all-European discussions and initiatives) and personal aspects of conversations between the key political figures from different worlds, that is capitalism and communism. It shows that despite these differences Spaak and Krushchev shared a common language and common concerns of a necessity of peaceful coexistence, pragmatism in search for solutions on the issues of development in the East and West. For the first time, one can find a detailed analysis of the Belgian official delegation’s visit to the USSR in 1956. The article is the first to publish data from both sides concerning the talks between Paul Spaak and Andrei Vychinski on the “friendship pact” proposal between Belgium and the USSR in 1946. For the first time, the role of Spaak in attempts to resolve the Berlin crisis of 1961 is analyzed in detail. For the first time, the new data is published on informal interaction between the two politicians at the Konche Zaspa dacha near Kyiv in July 1963. For the first time, the author analyzes the story of appearance and use of the “Pavel Pavlovich” nickname given by Khrushchev to Spaak and a hypothesis on its connection with the figure of famous Russian writer Anton Pavlovich Chekov is put forward.
The author comes to the conclusion about the importance of "intellectual ping-pong" for the success of personal diplomacy during the Cold War. The human dimension of high politics analyzed in the article demonstrates the importance of general knowledge in the field of humanities for establishing a respectful dialogue, which was the key to reducing the risk of rash actions on the part of both the USSR and the countries of the West. The cases of Spaak’s mediation between superpowers analyzed in the text allow one to talk about the potential for and interest in reducing the risks of confrontation between major powers on the part of small countries, such as Belgium.