Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 185

United States Delegation Minutes
Plenary Minutes 6

During the discussions on the communiqué a number of statements were made by different delegates outside of the strict discussion of the wording of the communiqué.1 Sir Winston Churchill pointed out that EDC was a French invention. Mr. Bidault said that the Chief of the French Government, whose absence was extremely painful to him and represented an immense sacrifice, had indicated his overall acceptance. Mr. Bidault felt it wise if they could go forward with this matter and put an end to quarrelling over commas. Mr. Eden said that it might perhaps be better to honestly admit that there are differences. If the phrase under discussion referred to what had been asked of the United Kingdom or the United States, he did not think it could be accepted in that form. He did not feel that this matter of the EDC could be conditioned on what the United Kingdom did or did not do in the light of what had already been done. He asked why any blame should be attached to them and if the real cause of difficulty was the Saar, it might be much better to say so plainly. Mr. Bidault replied that the Saar was not purely a French invention. The solution up to now had had but one adversary, who was Molotov, who fortunately survived. He apologized for seeming repetitious, but said that when his country was integrating with another it was important to know where this country began and where it ended. In consequence, if it was impossible for the Allies to give any answer while the French were undertaking formal and repeated commitments which were clearly [Page 1835] set forth, he did not know to which God or Prince to turn. His colleagues knew perfectly well that the French had not invented this problem. As the Prime Minister well knew it was when the Saar had returned to Germany for the last time that the great ordeal of the peoples of the world had begun. This must not happen again. How could the freely expressed vote of the Saar people be set aside because other nations who are not themselves free [the Soviets]2 refuse to recognize the validity of universal suffrage. The question of the Saar was fundamental and symbolic and must not become a barrier to the unification of Europe, but rather make it more possible. He would ask that France not be abandoned by the Allies, along side of whom she had fought. He was perhaps asking too much, but he felt that France had the right to be heard on fundamental matters. He asked that consideration be given to the consequences of the return of the Saar to the Reich and the consequences of the freely expressed vote. He spoke of the many sacrifices that France had made to demonstrate her will to succeed and meet Federal Germany. If all this did not count, this meant that previous sacrifices had been made in vain. He was sure that the opposite was the case. Mr. Bidault said that the French were anxious for a concrete reasonable solution, allowing the western frontier of Germany to be fixed by common agreement by the two peoples who were ruled by free men. France today faced Germany neither knowing where it began nor where it ended. He had one more word to add—the problem raised did not relate only to some villages in the Saar Valley. This area contained population four times as great as that of Zone A and Zone B of the Trieste Territory, ten times as great as Iceland, and four or five times as great as some areas that had been discussed. Having said that, he would conclude. At such a late hour it scarcely seemed appropriate to be carried away by our feelings.

Sir Winston Churchill then said he did not see why the Saar problem had been brought into the discussion of the communiqué. He realized that it was important to France that this problem be settled and was deeply sympathetic with this, but he did not understand why it had been brought into this discussion. Surely the French did not expect us to intervene. There could be, therefore, no profit in discussing it further at this point. We should admit that it was important and should be settled, but not at this meeting.

What, asked Sir Winston, would people think of the communiqué. He had no hesitation in replying that it would be interpreted as meaning that there was no agreement on EDC. This would be believed throughout the world and the consequences would be very grave. Mr. Bidault again called the attention of his colleagues to the fact that the text indicated that EDC was reaffirmed. He said that after so many discussions among the experts to reach a result, and after so much time [Page 1836] had been spent by the French Delegation—apparently uselessly—in trying to explain its problem, he personally felt that there was nothing in the text of the proposed communiqué that was contrary to the truth or could be considered as commiting any of his colleagues.

There followed considerable discussion on the actual wording of the communiqué following which President Eisenhower made a statement. The President said he wanted to make a statement which did not involve anything personal but, nevertheless, he had to go back to the United States to start work on renewing the annual assistance program. Every word or implication that weakened unquestioned adherence of the French Government to EDC made his position more difficult and, in fact, defeated him before he started. This could reach a point where it might be useless to attempt to try and secure approval for this program. He was not saying that he would not try. He would. But the American people had been investing for many years in this program and were hoping for some return from it. They believed in European unity and EDC. The President said that he had derived a good understanding of the problems the French faced from what Mr. Bidault had said but, nevertheless, he was in a tough spot as he had to face up to this problem next month. He could not wait as the matter was almost upon him. He felt that it would be best not to parade in the communiqué all our difficulties if at all avoidable.

Sir Winston Churchill said that the Washington Post contained an article which indicated that he was always opposed to press conferences because he believed in a stirring communiqué, and had drafted seventy-five per cent of the communiqué for the Bermuda Conference before he came. He added with a smile that this was surely a distortion of the truth. Mr. Bidault replied that he was upset to see in the Baltimore Sun a Reuter dispatch indicating that the French Delegation had broken the secret of their deliberations and then published a full account of what Mr. Bidault had said during the secret deliberations.

Secretary Dulles then asked what were the questions which Mr. Bidault wanted to see solved. A whole series of suggestions had been made in the French Parliament, some new and some unrealistic. Did this mean that it was necessary to accept any condition proposed by any member of the French Chamber of Deputies? If so, we might as well throw the whole thing out of the window. During the debate in the French Parliament almost every Deputy had advanced a solution. Some wanted guarantees on the stationing of troops, others new treaties, others a prolongation of the North Atlantic Treaty—the air was full of various conditions. It would be tragic if EDC was thrown into the arena two years after it had been signed, three years after it had been negotiated, after the protocols had been agreed upon, after the Germans had ratified it in both Houses of Parliament, after one of the Dutch and one of the Belgian Chambers had ratified it. If now [Page 1837] new questions involving England and the United States were brought up, then it might be best to say nothing about it in the communiqué.

There was further discussion on the communiqué and finally Mr. Bidault said that he would agree on the contents of the disputed paragraph if he could obtain the consent that was indispensable of the French Premier who must bear the supreme parliamentary responsibility on this question.

The meeting was adjourned briefly and, upon reconvening, a mutually agreeable wording was proposed for the disputed paragraph and the communiqué was then approved.

  1. For the text of the final communiqué, as agreed during the course of this meeting, see p. 1838.
  2. Brackets appear in the source text.