740.5/4–2454: Telegram

The United States Permanent Representative to the North Atlantic Council (Hughes) to the Department of State 1


Polto 1708. Subject: NAC Meeting April 23.

Since verbatim record eighteenth [thirteenth] meeting NAC being airpouched2 today, following summary will be brief, touching only high points:

1. Opening ceremony. Ismay and Bidault made statements marking fifth anniversary of NATO (for texts see press releases).3

2. Plenary session.

(a) Procedural questions. Council agreed set up communiqué working group and meet in informal session in afternoon.

(b) Progress NATO. Secretary General informed Foreign Ministers he was preparing comprehensive survey past five years NATO suitable for presentation Parliaments and general public. He hoped it would be ready within one month. He then touched on various activities council such as increased political consultation, emergency planning, information activities, Infrastructure, etc.

(c) Consideration political situation. Practically all Foreign Ministers paid tribute to France for heroic efforts being made Indochina.

Portugal stressed need for increased vigilance throughout world and policy firmness without provocation which NATO must continue follow. Development of Communism in Asia must be restricted and NATO must attempt prevent any new aggression this area, Situation in Goa4 affects national integrity Portugal. If situation deteriorated Portugal would have to call for NAC consultation to search for means to prevent present threat from developing into open aggression.

Turkey believed USSR suffering from lack of balance between intentions and capabilities because of inferiority in atomic weapons. Soviets now trying gain time and to weaken vigilance of West while recovering its atomic position. Also attempting to woo West through international conferences, East-West trade5 baits, at same time playing up Western divergencies. But Soviets would strike when sufficiently strong. Every effort therefore, must be made to increase Western strength.

Greece commented on fundamental hostility of Soviets toward West and emphasized that they had not changed their fundamental aim. Present day tactics were to divide and weaken unity of West in order gain time. NATO defensive build-up must be continued and when real position strength attained favorable moment might be found for trying persuade Soviet change its attitude. Greece welcomed US–UK EDC assurances and pleaded for speedy solution EDC question.

[Page 517]

UK commented on Berlin conference6 and recent Soviet note adding that Soviets still trying to delay and disrupt defense measures of West; that NATO was main objective though immediate point attack was EDC since Soviets knew German contribution would greatly increase NATO defense. Soviet diplomacy now more intelligent and flexible but objectives same. They never prepared pay any serious price for relaxation tension and would never withdraw from fixed and prepared positions. NATO must not reject any genuine approach but until there was significant evidence Soviet good intentions NATO must assume threat still exists. Soviet camouflage better but threat remained. All this emphasized necessity for earliest possible German contribution. UK had done its utmost to give practical affect to support EDC. Integration of Federal Republic with West was most urgent and fundamental problem. If present opportunity lost another might not occur.

Regarding Geneva conference,7 UK hoped it would lead to restoration of peace in Asia but if conference failed UK determined that it be made clear to world opinion that fault did not lie with West.

Netherlands believed NATO might now be faced with even greater difficulties than in past because immediate threat attack seemed to be diminishing and once immediate threat lessened it might be difficult keep up enthusiasm. Also, formerly NATO had been limited geographically while now wider serve NATO activities, especially in Asia, might give rise to difficulties. Commenting on EDC, Netherlands emphasized main problem was to discover means give Germany proper place in Western community as equal. Best solution this problem EDC.

Benelux countries which had ratified treaty fully aware German menace but they believed EDC best means safeguard future.

Failure bring EDC into existence could only lead to confusion in Europe from which only Soviets would benefit. He also expressed gratification for US–UK assurances.

Italy endeavored justify delay ratification EDC because changes in government. However, Italy believed EDC was basic tenet its foreign policy and would do everything possible attain quick ratification. Expressed hope that consultation in NATO be intensified.

Norway attached great importance EDC which would strengthen defenses southern approach to Scandinavia. He then noted that NAC treaty limits defense commitments to European geographical area and advocated caution not create impression that NATO was extending commitments beyond what respective Parliaments had agreed to in treaty. There was danger in sliding into kind of universal security organization. He thought there was more prospect at arriving at workable solutions in NATO if interlocking regional security arrangements were envisaged and NATO not over extend itself. Norwegian people gave unanimous support to NATO because NATO was group which was not only limited to certain geographical region but group of nations based on common set of ideals and certain pattern of political institutions. If NATO commitments extended too far beyond present geographic region and present membership, grave difficulties would arise in keeping and developing present unity.

[Page 518]

Denmark expressed hope for early ratification EDC and solution German defense question.

Bidault expressed agreement with what others had said on EDC. He commented at some length on difficulties French ratification and expressed gratification for US–UK assurances which he called unprecedented. He maintained he was trying to follow advice given to him.

Canada submitted draft resolution on consultation which Council accepted. (Copies being air pouched.) He advocated that when certain members contemplated making decisions, especially those affecting non-NATO area, which would result in new policies, new proposals for action or new plans, consultation and prior discussion in NATO should take place. He also advocated increased activities under Article II.

US pointed out his government had many interests and concerns throughout world with mutual security treaties with over 20 nations. US always endeavoring to consult as widely as possible but it was necessary to bear in mind that, taking into consideration domestic relations with own government, members of Parliaments, etc., unless desire for consultation is reasonably limited, there is danger that there will be no capacity for action if we spend all our time talking. If we went through all processes of consultation, when emergency arose it might never be met. Consultation is designed as means to an end and not end in itself. Consultation should not be so heavy and time-consuming that it would be impossible to take timely and appropriate action.

France pointed out that NATO was defense community and not political forum. Consultation through diplomatic channels must also continue.

(d) Recognition of GDR. Revised resolution tabled stating Soviet declaration March 25 in no way changed situation East Germany and that NATO members not prepared to recognize sovereignty of GDR or treat it as government. Was approved in principle by Council and referred to permanent representatives for working out final form.

(e) Unlimited duration NATO. France heartily welcomed US–UK assurances and suggested other governments make similar statement.

Norway remarked this question had not been fully discussed by permanent representatives and that question had not been submitted to governments. He wished to refer this question to his government upon his return and then send instructions to his permanent representative. From Norway constitutional point of view such statement could not be made by Foreign Minister without full consultation his government.

Portugal expressed surprise this subject raised. He also not in position take stand this question without consulting his government. He questioned France whether it desired interpretation or modification Article XIII NAC treaty. France stated US–UK spontaneously extended duration treaty and inquired whether this acceptable other members. Suggested matter be referred to permanent representatives.

Belgium accepted unlimited nature US–UK assurances and advocated other governments follow suit.

[Page 519]

Netherlands stated considered duration NATO unlimited and questioned advisability permanent representatives discussing matter. Believed sufficient to ask permanent representatives inquire of governments how similar statement could be made. He thought present Council might note with satisfaction US–UK assurances.

Greece suggested Council take note US–UK assurances with great satisfaction.

US pointed out that US declaration was not merely declaration that it would not expect exercise its right of termination but that declaration was made as part of statement which was prefaced by phrase “when EDC comes into force US will conform its acts to the following policies and undertakings”.

It was agreed that mention of US–UK assurances should be contained in communiqué. It was left somewhat up in air as to how this question should be handled in future.

(f) Date next ministerial meeting. It was suggested next ministerial meeting take place Paris upon termination 54 AR, probably middle next November and matter was referred to permanent representatives.

US pointed out important international developments might transpire before that date that circumstances might arise which might gravely affect the future, possibly existence NATO. He recalled that at December meeting he spoke about essential character creation EDC as means of providing honorable future for Germany and as best method for providing for German armed strength necessary for NATO forward strategy under conditions which would not be menacing to future peace or contain possibility future aggression. He did not desire to repeat what had been said other than to say that he still believed in what he had said. At that time he stated that unless EDC was soon achieved different and divisive forces might take command. Good progress had been made—four members of EDC had ratified treaty and US and UK Governments’ had made declaration containing pledges of future cooperation with EDC. On other hand, divisive forces are still at work and no one can say when they may become such as to render impossible program which is basic to future of NATO. He agreed date next meeting be referred to permanent representatives on condition that they might call special ministerial meeting in the meantime if situation critical to future NATO arose.

France pleaded Foreign Ministers not to believe what they read in press re EDC. He requested leave France ratification to those who are fighting for it and not to be too concerned. EDC advocates would fight and they thought they would win. His colleagues could help him by not questioning him too much. France was in special position and its difficulties should be understood. “We shall fight and I think that we shall win for the honor of France and the common interest of the alliance”.

(g) After brief discussion communiqué agreed upon.8

  1. Repeated to all NATO capitals and to Moscow, Bonn, Vienna, and Malta.
  2. See the editorial note, p. 508.
  3. Copies of these press releases have not been found in Department of State files, nor were they reprinted in either the Department of State Bulletin or the New York Times.
  4. For documentation on Goa, see the compilation on Portugal in volume vi .
  5. Documentation on East-West trade is presented in volume i .
  6. Documentation on the Berlin Conference is presented in volume vii .
  7. Documentation on the Geneva Conference on Korea and Indochina is presented in volume xvi .
  8. The text of the communiqué is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, May 3, 1954, p. 670.