740.5/11–2351: Telegram

The Chargé in Belgium (Millard) to the Acting Secretary of State 1


719. Re EDF. In brief talk with Van Zeeland just prior leaving for Rome,2 questioned him to elicit confirmation of Stikker’s statement to Secretary, reported Dept intel Nov 21, 2 a. m.3 Found him in complete agreement with Stikker except that when asked re German participation NATO, Van Zeeland said that though he assumed Germany might eventually participate fully in NATO, he was strongly opposed such participation for long time to come.

Asked re yesterday’s debate Senate, principally on EDF and whether he thought odds of passage Parliament remained 7 or 8 to 10 in favor (see Embtel 616, Oct 31, 1951),4 Van Zeeland said opposition in Belgium to EDF growing and he wld now reduce such odds to 5 or 6 to 10.

Asked his impression talks Paris with other EDF ministers, Van Zeeland said of ten points on agenda, eight were fairly easy of solution by minor adjustments and compromises but that he remained adamant European defense authority be under and not superior to ministers of EDF countries. Also strongly insisted that terms on which various countries wld contribute forces shld be precisely stated and that these terms shld not be discriminatory. Asked to elaborate, he explained that Belgium willing contribute six divisions and air force but wld leave out security forces within Belgium navy and Congo Force Publique. Under proposed terms, other countries might hold out of EDF more or less indefinite military contribution owing vagueness present proposals. Re other minor objections alluded to above, he said Belgium could not accept units in EDF being divided on grounds language since though Belgian units are based on French and Flemish speaking troops, officers are bi-lingual and it is cardinal political policy not to permit a division of Belgian army on linguistic grounds. He admitted that Flemish were more strongly opposed to EDF than Walloons. Flemish fear that though now majority in Belgium their position wld be weakened shld Walloon troops be linked with French and Flemish with Dutch. He also confirmed that Flemish feel more strongly than Walloons that Belgiums’ traditional safety depends on Anglo-French alliance and absence British participation EDF makes Flemish most reluctant join. Van Zeeland also mentioned that Flemish being Catholic and more conservative, fear their young men wld be [Page 932] “contaminated” by association European army with French troops because prevalence communism and lack of religion.

Van Zeeland mentioned he had lengthy talk with General Eisenhower in which he set forth his views on “impracticability” EDF as now conceived. Embassy wld be grateful for memo this conversation if available.

  1. This telegram was repeated for information to Paris, The Hague, and Rome.
  2. Belgian Foreign Minister Van Zeeland headed his government’s delegation at the Eighth Session of the North Atlantic Council at Rome, November 24–28; see pp. 693 ff.
  3. Supra.
  4. Ante, p. 907.