396.1 BE/2–1654: Telegram

No. 486
The United States Delegation at the Berlin Conference to the Department of State1

confidential priority

Secto 151. Department pass OSD. Foreign Ministers’ plenary meeting afternoon February 15 held at Soviet residence, Secretary presiding. Following is summary of first part of meeting.2

Bidault made lengthy prepared statement.3 He remarked that exchange of views on this subject has not made it possible to find specific and limited fields on which agreements could be reached of mutual interest to all. On contrary, during discussions Soviet delegation had put forth broader and broader proposals which appeared to be solely for propaganda purposes. Referring to Soviet security proposals,4 Bidault recalled he had asked which 32 countries were to be included. He said that Soviet proposal raised problems from viewpoint of neutrals whose positions could not be prejudged by four powers. It also raised questions regarding countries with which Soviet does not maintain relations. Molotov had not made any answer on this point.

Bidault characterized Soviet proposals “as Europe for Europeans”. He said this was formula of superficial attractiveness. However, previous efforts to isolate Europe from rest of world had only led to domination of Europe for purpose of dominating world. Concept of Europe itself was ambiguous one, to which geography is no sure guide. Several European powers, including USSR, have responsibilities which extend far beyond borders of Europe. France is particularly conscious of this dual role. Europe should be, he said, a community of spirit, of heart and of will which goes beyond mere limits of geography.

Bidault said that Europe, like world, is divided. Across continent is frontier which is not geographic and which divides what have been called “the two camps”. This frontier not only limits but isolates and separates. He hoped that it would not be permanent and that gradually through peaceful co-existence it would become possible to heal division to which we are not resigned. Bidault said that manifesto of Soviet Communist Party on occasion of elections referred [Page 1118] to “peace camp” which would “grow and become stronger together with USSR”. Such growth could not be reconciled with European idea unless all Europe eventually wound up in this camp. He intimated that this was general theory upon which Soviet proposals were based.

Bidault said that if Europe isolated itself from rest of world, one single power which also extends into Asia would have absolute preponderance in Europe. It was not necessary to suggest possibility of aggression. Fact of military preponderance involves political and other consequences which cannot be ignored. In part of Europe where this preponderance exists, it has produced striking results. Mr. Molotov had contested term “bloc” but not its existence and had said that it was directed solely against Germany, which Mr. Bidault felt difficult to reconcile with documents which are known to all. As far as existence of bloc was concerned, he felt that simple criterion could be applied, i.e., whether there was freedom to disagree or to show difference of opinion. Whole world knows what kind of independence exists in Eastern European countries. East bloc also includes Germany—politically, economically and militarily. KVP, which is called police, is in fact army of more than 100,000 equipped with tanks, planes and heavy weapons. Soviet delegation had reproached French for having ignored Franco-Soviet alliance. USSR had not asked French advice on any of matters which he had mentioned and in particular on rearmament of Eastern Germany. Soviet proposal on security as it relates to Germany, Bidault said, legalizes division and perpetuates it. He characterized alleged Soviet solution as insubstantial and artificial; one which would, without saying so, restore quadripartite control by return to Potsdam. Germany would be placed in position of indefinite tutelage. Possibility of sending occupation troops back would constitute means of permanent pressure on center of Europe. He did not think that any of the four countries could face up to tragic riddle of knowing whose troops would arrive back in Germany first.

As to proposed security treaty5 he remarked the preamble stated it was directed at prevention of formation of one group of states against others. Not only is such a group present in Eastern Europe but is maintained by Article 10. He asked what would happen to community of Western countries and to their ties with other countries which existed over long time and which they could not break. Text of Article 7 was unclear and Soviet comments had not clarified it. He asked Molotov point blank whether or not Soviet delegation considered NAT compatible with its draft.

[Page 1119]

Bidault stated that there were other difficulties. If there were frontier incidents between two German states, situation which had occurred elsewhere, and these developed into armed conflicts, would all European states be able to agree on responsibility for aggression. He suggested that result would be either to nullify treaty or to apply it as desired by strongest party. He did not think solution of problem lay in text but in willingness to end division of Europe.

Bidault said that he had already outlined French idea of security which took into account legitimate interest of East and West. France believes it can only be achieved by limitation and controlled reduction of arms. In absence of this, one would be brought back to conception which does not wholly satisfy anyone, i.e., resigned acceptance of shortcomings of others which is known as peaceful co-existence. While West did not regard this as satisfactory, it would not impose its ideas by force on East. It would never accept imposition by others of system it had not chosen. He said that Western European countries wished to maintain their alliances, including those with US. They were seeking solution of German problem by collective effort in framework which had been imposed on them. Europe would be built on basis of free choice and cooperation and not on various geographic or theoretical concepts. Unification of Europe is not directed against anyone. It is progressive and can adapt itself to new situations, and would be accomplished with respect for freedom of choice of each participant. While directed toward common well-being, primary aim was maintenance of peace.

Summing up, Bidault outlined French conceptions on security as follows:

Collective security is in first instance assured by World Security Organization, the UN. In this general framework regional organizations of purely defensive character, whose limits are determined by community of ideals and interests which links certain nations, naturally find a place.
Regional defense organizations cannot be limited by principle of geographical limits of single continent.
General European settlement would be essential contribution to general security. Consequences of war and stabilization of territorial situation in Europe under conditions capable of assuring durable peace are first requisite. First thing to be done is therefore to conclude German settlement and Austrian State treaty. Crowning of such territorial settlement would be establishment of common institutions among European states designed to strengthen security safeguards already provided by existing organizations. Creation of such organization requires gradual re-establishment among European countries of normal relations based upon respect of human person and fundamental individual rights.
As concerns Germany, security of her neighbors must under all circumstances be insured. Their security cannot be threatened before peace treaty because of presence of allied troops. After treaty Germany, included within a binding association, would not have independent control of her own military forces. Security regarding Germany would be assured as follows:
Treaties of alliance concluded during war come into operation in the case of aggression.
Germany cannot act independently in military field, which rules out all possibility of aggression.
Germany, assuming obligations of United Nations Charter would participate without restriction in world solidarity system.
Government of United Germany should undertake not seek to alter rules which restrict its freedom of action in military field.

Bidault said these provisions would give Germany her rightful place in community of peaceful states while eliminating any threat by her to security of European peoples. He added that effort should be continued within framework of UN to achieve gradually only completely satisfactory form of collective security which would be general disarmament simultaneous and controlled.

Bidault said these concepts were new but they appeared to be better than methods which had been tried before and which had always ended in disaster. Program does not involve effort to change things in one single stroke but to introduce the first element of stability in the situation which can form solid basis for relationship among nations and which would give some hope of eventual stabilization and true reconciliation in Europe and world.

Eden recalled his first comment on Molotov proposal on February 10 that it had been clearly designed to break up NATO.6 At the previous session Molotov had said that dissolution of NATO was not precondition of this plan and criticized Eden for assuming so. Eden pointed out, with reference to paragraph 7 of draft security treaty however, that Molotov had himself referred to NATO as directed against USSR and as obstacle to wider European security. Furthermore, Molotov had attacked existence of military basis on which NATO security depends. Molotov had underscored his intention to break up NATO by deliberate exclusion of US which was relegated role of observer together with China. Canada, which had twice fought in Europe was excluded completely.

Eden said that while attempting to break up Western security system, Soviet proposal clearly permits continuation of Soviet [Page 1121] system in Eastern Europe. He said he had never asked Soviet to imperil its own security and had twice offered extension of Anglo-Soviet treaty. Molotov had professed inability to understand how this assurance could have meaning so long US, UK, remain members of NATO. In UK view there is no conflict since NATO can never be used [except] for defense purpose.

Eden recalled that he had offered to consider any other proposals Soviet delegation might wish to put forward regarding search for common security. Any such proposal, however, must be consistent with security in West as well as security of USSR; that is, consistent with continued existence of NATO.

Summing up UK position on item 2, Eden said UK has proposed as first step practical solution of German problem. Without German settlement there can be no effective security system for Europe. UK proposals provided only basis on which reunification and peace treaty can be achieved. They have been rejected by Soviet delegation, which has not offered any practical alternative.

Eden said all were bound by provisions of UN Charter and that NATO and EDC are consistent with Charter, being entirely defensive in character. He had not come to Berlin to apologize for NATO, still less to discuss its dissolution. UK will not cast aside means of assuring its own safety and freedom.

Following is summary of second part of Ministers’ plenary meeting, February 15:

Molotov said that Soviet Delegation had submitted two proposals on European security; one respecting matters of immediate importance, the second dealing with longer range problems. It attached importance to both. He remarked Dulles had indicated agreement with first paragraph of Soviet proposal in relation to Germany which states that four powers will continue their efforts towards satisfactory solution of German problem, and noted Eden and Bidault had not raised objection on this part of proposal.

Turning to other parts of Soviet proposal, Molotov said objections had been raised principally by Bidault and he would answer these. With regard to withdrawal of troops, Molotov said that in view of disagreement it would obviously take some time to ascertain which aspects of German problem it will be possible to reach agreement on. Some measures should be taken which would relieve burdens of Germans. He saw no reason why withdrawal of forces should not be acceptable to all four powers. He suggested that Ministers study matter more concretely to determine under what conditions forces could be withdrawn. He said Bidault’s suggestion that Soviet wished to control system was misunderstanding. He had proposed four power supervision of withdrawal on practical grounds but was prepared to consider other methods of supervision and in fact to [Page 1122] discuss dispensing with it, although he was not certain such solution would be acceptable. He wished to make clear that USSR would oppose anything resembling Control Council which was thing of past and out of place under present conditions.

Molotov noted that paragraph three of Soviet proposal had raised great objections. He asked why Pan American organization was unobjectionable but European was objectionable. With reference to Bidault’s question regarding figure of 32 countries and related questions which he had asked, Molotov said that all these matters could be clarified in mutually acceptable way. Article 9 of Treaty on Security contained special clause relating to US which had been objected to. Perhaps clause could be formulated in different manner or position of US defined differently or clause could be excluded entirely. He did not understand Eden’s remarks regarding Canada which is not member of Pan American organization. Idea Canada should be member of European organization surprised him but it could be considered. He suggested that other Ministers should not limit themselves to criticism but propose specific amendments to Soviet draft which could be considered and discussed.

Regarding Bidault’s comments on two camps, Molotov said that while there are two camps from viewpoint of social and economic systems, Soviet feels there should be only one camp as far as peace is concerned. This thought has motivated Soviet proposals. He said Bidault had asked against whom general European security treaty is directed. He had concluded it was directed against NATO, as had Eden. Bidault had asked for yes or no answer, but this approach reflected misrepresentation on subject which one could find in British and French newspapers. It did not, however, according to Bidault’s question, he said treaty is alternative to EDC and directed against it because EDC aims at German militarism. He suggested that France, US, UK were also interested in preventing revival of German militarism. It had been stated that proposal was directed against NATO. He suggested that matter should be studied to see what other treaties organization proposed by Soviet delegation is directed against. He reiterated that his reply was that draft European security treaty is alternative to EDC. He remarked that it had been said that certain countries are to enter EDC because they have no alternative.

Molotov remarked that criticism had been directed against certain articles of proposed treaty, particularly Articles 7, 9 and 10. He was prepared to discuss any amendments which might be desired on these articles or any other article of the treaty and suggested that the other Ministers present amendments. He said he was also prepared to discuss any proposals which might be directed toward apprehensions that one state would dominate entire European [Page 1123] system, or of any other matter. He concluded by asking other Ministers whether they accepted or rejected idea of collective security in Europe.

Secretary made statement, text of which has been telegraphed separately.7

Bidault said he had already replied that there could be no collective security exclusively for one continent or one part of the world, however regional agreements which fall within provision of UN Charter, such as NATO, must be maintained. This was precisely reason for EDC. He said it was impossible for the Four Powers to draw up a treaty for 32 signatories, some of whom are unknown. It is also difficult to have such a treaty before problem, which the Soviet delegation said is most disquieting for Germany’s neighbors, that is, German problem, has been solved.

Bidault pointed out that the question Molotov had imputed to him was not correct; what he had asked was whether Soviet delegation does or does not believe that NATO is compatible with treaty it has proposed. Perhaps it was superfluous to ask this question since he had statement made by USSR on March 21, 1949 regarding NATO but he repeated question once more. He said that when he had received reply, would discuss EDC and alternatives.

Discussion followed on agenda for next session. It was agreed to ascertain whether Austrian delegation would be ready for meeting, in which case Ministers would take up Austrian question. If Austrians not ready, they would resume consideration of item 2.

  1. Transmitted in three sections. Repeated to Bonn, Frankfurt, Paris, London, Vienna, and Moscow.
  2. The U.S. Delegation verbatim record of the eighteenth plenary, USDEL PLEN/18, is in Conference files, lot 60 D 627, CF 195.
  3. For Bidault’s statement, circulated as FPM(54)68, see Cmd. 9080, pp. 151–155.
  4. Presumably Bidault is referring to FPM(54)46 and 47, Documents 516 and 517.
  5. See FPM(54)46, Document 516.
  6. For a summary of Eden’s comments on Feb. 10, see Secto 117, Document 451. For Eden’s remarks on Feb. 15, see Cmd. 9080, pp. 155–156.
  7. Secto 150, infra.