863.00/3–348: Telegram

The Minister in Austria (Erhardt) to the Secretary of State


272. Gruber’s frame of mind three weeks ago before he left for London treaty negotiations, when he was exploring every possible means of reaching compromise based on Soviet proposal, contrasts sharply with present preoccupation upon return from London with (1) strengthening Austrian internal unity and (2) developing Western European collaboration. Change of attitude appears to be caused by Czechoslovak coup, fear of further Communist successes, particularly in Italy, lack of progress in treaty negotiations and Anglo-French initiative on Western European unity.

Gruber states he is endeavoring during stay in Vienna to promote truce between two major parties and adoption of joint program on controversial issues representing compromise between two extremes. [Page 1384] He considers that bickering between two parties has grown to disquieting extent but believes it will be possible in view of international situation to persuade leaders he has already talked to Schaerf and Raab) to agree on program which will preserve coalition for at least one year.

Minister’s apprehension over international developments is demonstrated by his contention that it is vital that Western European countries not only consolidate CEEC at forthcoming Paris meeting but also proceed rapidly to measures of political and military collaboration.…

Gruber is not optimistic about agreement on Austrian treaty in near future and, while he believes negotiations should be pursued, is obviously less concerned with pressing them to early conclusion. He wishes among other matters to assure himself that Austria is in position to defend herself from internal and external aggression, short of war, before occupation forces withdraw. He will deliver public Statement on treaty to Steering Committee of Parliament March 5.

Gruber plans to return to London via Paris early next week and also to be present at CEEC meeting in Paris March 15. Gruber’s ideas on CEEC program appear to resemble closely those set forth in Department’s circular February 29, 1 a. m.1

Sent Department; repeated London 50, Paris 29, Rome 18.

  1. Not printed.