740.5/3–2353: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Bunker) to the Secretary of State

top secret

4115. Eyes only Secretary. I returned from Milan in order to talk to De Gasperi last evening. He came off the Senate floor to see me. I outlined to him in detail points contained Department’s telegram 3773 of March 19,1 stressing that the United States understood his domestic situation but hoped that he would be able to weigh relationship between his own political requirements and the effect which delay in ratification EDC would have on Europe. I pointed out that approval of EDC treaty by Special Commission of Chamber had been most helpful in securing European support and stressed the effect which delay would have, particularly in France. I also pointed out the bad effects which a delay in fulfillment of contractual agreements would have in Germany.

De Gasperi listened patiently to these points and replied that he was in a most difficult situation. He said that Communist obstructionist tactics and rowdyism in the Italian Senate were worse than he had ever experienced. He stated in strictest confidence that although it may be extremely difficult he may be required to replace Paratore as President of the Senate within the next day or two in order that orderly procedures can be restored. De Gasperi said there was question [Page 779] whether or not he would be able to speak himself, without risk of physical violence (see Embassy’s telegram 4111, March 22).2 He asked me to inform you that he was deeply concerned and humiliated by his failure to carry out the pledges made during your recent visit Rome,3 but he had never anticipated this extreme obstructionism after having defeated the same tactics in the Chamber.

De Gasperi stated that the risk in postponing the elections until summer was too great to bring the treaty to a vote in the Chamber at this time. Chamber must be dissolved by the end of this week. However, unless Senate is dissolved, he will, unless Parliamentary procedures preclude it, introduce treaty into the Senate after electoral law is passed. Either today or Tuesday, he plans to speak in Senate and will include a strong defense of EDC. At that time he will announce his decision concerning procedure for ratification. If he introduces the treaty, committee to examine the treaty can work during the campaign even if Senate is adjourned. Their report should be completed by the time of election. If so, he anticipates that final approval by the Senate would take place two or three weeks following elections.

We did not know precisely whether favorable report by Special Commission of present Chamber would be considered valid by new Chamber. He will receive a legal opinion on this question shortly. In any event, he will make ratification a campaign issue and first order of business in new Chamber. He does not anticipate that consideration by new Chamber will require a long time. He hopes that ratification could be completed before the summer holidays.

De Gasperi asked me to assure you that he is so closely identified with European integration his entire political fortune and future are involved in the ratification of the EDC. In this issue he considers that his whole policy is at stake. However, obstructive tactics have gone so far that he has even had to consider dissolution of the Senate as a last resort in order to avoid throwing elections into the summer, which he feels would be most dangerous. He would be most reluctant to take such a drastic step for it would mean abandonment of the new electoral law and going to the country on the present law. This, however, would be preferable to postponement of elections until later in the summer when people have left their homes for harvesting, making it impossible for them to vote.

De Gasperi told me that he had received a letter from Adenauer expressing concern about the delay in ratification. He has written to the Chancellor explaining his problem and assuring him that he will do his utmost to bring it about at the earliest moment.

[Page 780]

It is my considered opinion that the foregoing represents the maximum position which De Gasperi can take. If he introduces the treaty into the Senate he will have gone as far as he can go without running the serious risk of postponing the elections. His government will suffer unless Chamber is dissolved this week and elections can be held in May or early June. I appreciate the additional point contained in Department’s telegram 3794, March 214 and advised De Gasperi accordingly. I believe, however, that De Gasperi’s hesitancy to force issue in present Chamber is not based on uncertainty concerning the French protocols or represents any wavering in his policy for European integration. He is preoccupied by the necessity for a victory for the center group in the elections and the difficulties which he will encounter in obtaining it. If this is prejudiced in any way our entire policy of European integration, including the EDC, would be seriously jeopardized.

Please repeat to other posts as you consider advisable.

  1. Supra.
  2. Not printed. (765.21/3–2253)
  3. Reference is to Secretary Dulles’ discussions with Prime Minister De Gasperi at Rome on Jan. 31; see telegram 4275 and Dulles’ letter to the President, both dated Feb. 1, pp. 1551 and 1553.
  4. Telegram 3794 priority to Rome, Mar. 21, reads in part: “One additional point for possible use by Ambassador with De Gasperi is that there have been significant developments in the protocol negotiations in Paris. There is good chance that final agreement will be reached on March 24 by the EDC Interim Committee on five of the six protocols. If protocols are substantially agreed, this eliminates one very important obstacle to ratification. Uncertainty over French protocols has been major reason why other EDC governments have been reluctant to push parliaments to complete ratification” (740.5/3–2053).