340.240/6–1650: Telegram

The United States Resident Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe to the Secretary of State 1


742. Noce 757. From USResDel/ECE.

1. Fifth ECE session, unexpectedly prolonged by debate on report to ECOSOC, adjourned June 15.2 Proceedings of last few days being [Page 34] reported separately.3 This cable contains general comments on session as whole.

2. Session had attracted extra advance attention because (a) it provided virtually only opportunity since Soviets began walk-outs over China recognition issue for USSR and EE countries confront US and WE in UN forum; (b) feeling of some observers that, irrespective of China issue, east-west tension too great for Commission to survive session; (c) knowledge that turning points had been reached in certain technical committees and decisions on future lines of work had to be made; (d) publicity regarding Myrdal’s Moscow trip and so-called “positive” USSR response to Executive Secretary’s proposals looking toward increased east-west grain trade.4

3. Re 2(a) above, Soviet reappearance in UN after absence at last ECOSOC session5 seems to have had no effect on their behavior in ECE. They behaved in same fashion as at previous ECE sessions, were interested primarily in propaganda, but did not utilize opportunity to air in ECE any issues they had deprived selves of opportunity to discuss at other UN bodies. Re (b), policy all members is to keep ECE alive and at no time during session was future of agency itself in real jeopardy. Upshot was that ECE continues with basic structure unchanged.

4. Re 2(c), Transport, Coal, Steel, Timber, Electric Power committees, and Housing Subcommittee to continue per recommendations from them to Commission. Working Party of Industry and Materials Committee to develop more practical and concrete program of future work for that body. Generally agreed that trade and Agriculture Committees should be kept in being but not convened unless and until prospect of practical work reasonably bright. Manpower Committee to remain completely dormant. Secretariat proposal for European steel agreement placed in cold storage. Proposal for investigation factors affecting international price formation (including cartels, state monopolies and restrictive practices) approved; proposed studies in field of financial problems severely narrowed in scope prior to approval. [Page 35] Re 2(d), prospects increased east-west grain trade welcomed by all but no indication yet that Soviet reply to Myrdal’s aide-mémoire represents more than propaganda gesture. EE speakers already seeking build up psychology in which failure of increased trade to materialize can be blamed on US.

5. USSR and its role. Arutiunian6 (USSR) was not more obstructive than at previous sessions and, in some respects, was milder. His main speeches were weak and on whole limited to old and overworked themes. Most offensive EE representative was Katz-Suchy7(Poland) whose consistently obnoxious behavior did more to unite west and embarrass east than any other single factor. Runner-up as most offensive was Shtylla8 (Albania).

US delegate inclined believe behavior difference of EE representatives due mostly accidents of personality. May, however, be deliberate attempt to make satellites such as Poland, which last year under Lychowski9 was most moderate of EE group, appear most aggressive both to demonstrate tightening of Communist controls and so that USSR can appear by contrast as more flexible and conciliatory. May also be that USSR now playing peace theme while some satellites have not yet made necessary change in line.

Peace theme was stressed with USSR and other EE representatives emphasizing that differing economic system can co-exist peacefully. Bitterest EE invective lavished on Yugoslavia. All western world’s ills, real and fancied, blamed on US policy, particularly Marshall Plan. All of familiar charges against ECA aired: subordination of participating countries independence, enslavement of WE to American monopolists, prevention east-west trade, forcing of American exports at cost of indigenous production with resultant unemployment in Europe. Variations and new shadings included greater emphasis on so-called “dumping” of American supplies; references to US authorization required for counterpart releases as evidence of growing US “interference” in soveregn affairs ERP countries; intense effort exploit unemployment situation, especially in Italy, insistence that real purpose our export licensing policy is to impede development socialism and peoples democracies; pretense that military expenditures of WE are becoming insupportably heavy burden; insistence that [Page 36] enormous progress being made in every field in EE while western world facing “mounting crisis.”

EE statements made unusually little reference to developments in Germany. Do not know whether this reflects USSR uncertainty regarding appropriate German policy, or fear of inviting comparisons between conditions in East and West Germany.

6. Yugoslav role. Yugoslavia sent active impressive delegation headed by Vilfan.10 Did outstanding job of revealing trade discrimination as practiced by EE. In public sessions Yugoslavia maintained independence of any bloc, but was less critical of west. Privately maintained cordial working relationship with US delegation throughout session. For Yugoslavia, which is neither in OEEC nor CMEA, participation in ECE is important.

7. Western Europe. Western European nations exhibited somewhat greater solidarity than at previous sessions but Scandinavians still wobbly. Whereas entire EE bloc promptly rises to defense of any member. WE still relatively unaware that totalitarian attack on any part of the world is threat to all of it. Most WE delegates seem instructed to stay out of trouble, defend own country if attacked in debate, and let other countries do same. Philip11 (France) was only really effective WE spokesman who understood broader issues. French without Philip were also wobbly. UK delegation was weakest and most provincial ever to attend ECE session although Davies at times spoke well. Among smaller delegations, Netherlands most helpful. WE countries tend to send economists and trade experts rather than speakers effective in political debate. Fail to recognize that presence USSR at main Commission transforms economic discussion into political debate and that adequate counter-propaganda is needed. USSR does not hesitate introduce resolutions and textual changes for political reasons and we should be better prepared to do likewise, if reasonable compromises to be obtained.

8. Miscellaneous. In general, delegates satisfied with outcome of fifth session. Useful technical and research work of ECE will go on. US forced into more active role than we would have wished. Believe during next year we should concentrate on increasing WE confidence, solidarity, and willingness to speak in each other’s defense.

Mme. Kock12 (Sweden) proved best chairman to date; Vice Chairman Tauber13 (Czechoslovakia) served adequately during his brief [Page 37] periods in chair. Myrdal and Secretariat were more efficient and did less lobbying that at any previous session.

Sent Department 742, repeated Paris Torep 103. [USResDel/ECE.]

  1. This telegram was transmitted via the facilities of the Consulate in Geneva.
  2. The Fifth Session of the Economic Commission for Europe was held in Geneva, May 31 to June 15, 1950; for the official report on the session, see Part III of the Annual Report of the Economic Commission for Europe, May 22, 1949–June 15, 1950, U.N. doc. E/1674 (E/ECE/119), June 15, 1950. For a substantial excerpt from the opening statement to the session by the United States Representative to the Commission, W. Averell Harriman, on June 1, 1950, see Raymond Dennet and Robert K. Turner, eds., Documents on American Foreign Relations, vol. XII, January 1–December 31, 1950 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press for the World Peace Foundation, 1951), pp. 5152. For a report on the Commission meetings on June 7 and 8, devoted to a discussion of East-West trade issues, see telegram 709, Noce 748, June 9, from Geneva, p. 143.
  3. The basic documentation on the participation of the United States in the work of the Economic Commission for Europe is included in Department of State file 340.240.
  4. Telegram 637, Noce 734, May 20, from Geneva, not printed, reported that Gunner Karl Myrdal, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe, visited Moscow, Praha, and Warsaw, May 6–17. Myrdal found the U.S.S.R. interested in expanding East-West trade, persuaded that a relaxation of Western licensing procedures was a prerequisite for trade expansion, ready to negotiate on a practical level for mutually advantageous trade, and inclined to feel that a European grain agreement might be a practical starting point (340.240/5–2050). Regarding the possibility of such a grain agreement, see the editorial note, p. 233.
  5. The U.N. Economic and Social Council held its 10th Session at Lake Success, New York, February 7–March 6, 1950. For documentation on the absence of Soviet representatives from various United Nations bodies including ECOSOC, see vol. ii, pp. 186 ff.
  6. Amazasp Avakimovich Arutyunyan, Chief of the Economic Affairs Division of the Soviet Foreign Ministry; Head of the Soviet Delegations to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Economic Commission for Europe.
  7. Juliusz Katz-Suchy, Polish Permanent Representative to the United Nations; Head of the Polish Delegations to the Economic and Social Council and the Economic Commission for Europe.
  8. Behar Shtylla, Albanian Minister in France; Albanian Representative to the Economic Commission for Europe.
  9. Dr. Tadeusz Lychowski, Director of the Economic Department of the Polish Foreign Ministry; Head of the Polish Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe in 1949.
  10. Joža Vilfan, Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister; Head of the Yugoslav Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe.
  11. André Philip, Deputy in the French National Assembly; Head of the French Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe.
  12. Mrs. Karin Kock, Director of the Swedish Central Bureau of Statistics; Head of the Swedish Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe.
  13. Arnost Tauber, Czechoslovak Minister in Switzerland; Head of the Czechoslovak Delegation to the Economic Commission for Europe.