740.00119 Council/6–149: Telegram

The United States Delegation at the Council of Foreign Ministers to President Truman and the Acting Secretary of State


Delsec 1837. For President and Acting Secretary. Ninth meeting CFM with Schuman in chair heard brief statement by Vishinsky amplifying Soviet refusal accept Bonn constitution as basis for formation German Government and then moved to discussion of second agenda point on Berlin with agreement discussion could later return point one. Ministers engaged in sharp legal discussion on basis of allied rights in Berlin and principle of unanimity rule, with both Acheson and Bevin asserting that position adopted by Vishinsky indicated he was unwilling to reach any agreement this CFM session.

Vishinsky opened discussion by declaring in amplification of earlier remarks on federalism that USSR cannot accept provision of Bonn constitution which reserves supreme authority to Laender except insofar as specifically delegated to federal government. In response to Bevin statement at seventh meeting that USSR apparently no longer supports idea of central German Government, Vishinsky reaffirmed Soviet position of Moscow and London sessions in favor of central government. He said proposal for all German states council demonstrates Soviet desire facilitate this objective, adding that if US, UK and France desire USSR will discuss formation all German Government. But he added that Western proposals could not be accepted [Page 942] on basis this discussion since they hinge on Bonn constitution which USSR considers undemocratic.

Acheson opened discussion on Berlin question by sketching in general terms nature of problem. He said all four powers agreed on desirability reuniting city and on necessity for allied control. As basic facts pertinent to Berlin question he pointed out (1) Western Powers in Berlin by international agreement antedating Potsdam but more fundamentally because of successful prosecution of war and resolution of their peoples, (2) all four powers are in Berlin and are going to stay, (3) Berlin is city and its administration must be designed for orderly operation routine aspects of municipality. Acheson said that if CFM approaches this question in sensible pragmatic way, it should be possible reach agreement. Broad problems and technical questions should be considered jointly, with view to securing new city-wide elections, new charter and constitution, and system of quadripartite control.

Schuman expressed view that progress should be possible on Berlin question since it smaller geographic area and presented practical rather than over-all political problems. What had previously been said about political systems should apply to Berlin, and on control mechanism question was merely method of voting. He expressed hope it would be possible achieve a technical solution on currency which perhaps might not apply to all Germany. Bevin added that there was agreement on four power control and main question to be settled was determination of powers to which unanimity applied and those which fell within competence of control body, with remainder being left to city administration.

Vishinsky replied that if US in Berlin by right of agreement, it necessary fulfill all terms of agreement which called for quadripartite administration of city on basis of unanimity. He said occupation powers in Berlin for purpose of carrying out administration of city and unanimity only possible basis for quadripartite administration. Unity of Berlin could only be established on previous basis with Kommandatura functioning as before. USSR willing examine question of whether some functions could be changed, but all those left must be handled by unanimous vote according to basic international agreements.

Acheson expressed regret Vishinsky not willing adopt realistic approach before taking fixed position. In effect Vishinsky said he would not consider western approach at all, which means CFM will not reach any agreement. Furthermore Vishinsky implied he does not want to reach agreement. Acheson corrected Vishinsky quotation on US position [Page 943] in Berlin and then challenged Soviet legal argument on unanimity rule. He said documents Vishinsky cited were not source of our authority to be in Berlin but simply administrative arrangements. Furthermore agreements Vishinsky cited as basis for unanimity rule actually said military commanders would “jointly” handle affairs of Berlin. He pointed out that all our experience shows it impossible administer city on principle of unanimity, which is most arbitrary and dictatorial method of doing business. Acheson commented that Vishinsky had put himself in untenable position by expressing willingness abandon some areas of control while refusing examine question of whether other aspects of control could be handled on majority basis. Schuman contributed further legal arguments which prompted Bevin to remark he felt alone as only non-lawyer present. He said his approach was simple: somebody walked out of Kommandatura, split city resulted and CFM had now convened to reach sensible agreement. He favored careful examination of positions to see if agreement possible, rather than present polemics. If agreement not possible, issue should be faced right now. He further asserted UK would not accept return to old Kommandatura.

Next meeting 3:30 Thursday.

Sent Department Delsec 1837; repeated London 352, Berlin 209, Heidelberg 9, Moscow 112.