4. Telegram From the United States Delegation at the North Atlantic Council Ministerial Meeting to the Department of State1

Polto 2252. Following is summary of restricted NAC meeting on Agenda Item II (a), (b), (c) afternoon May 9:2

Pinay opened by summarizing yesterday’s tripartite and quadripartite meetings saying the three had first met to consider future four power meetings and Adenauer had joined later re German problem.3 All agreed conference with Soviets under conditions different from Berlin conference was desirable since West in much stronger position today to resume talks. Also there were indications such as Austria that Soviet policy had more flexibility. US, UK, France and Germany all agreed that we should propose a four power meeting with the Soviets although agreement on level of talks had not been reached. Opinion of other NATO allies would be valuable.

Pinay said while Soviet declarations were recently more moderate there was no indication of Soviets abandoning their hold on East Germany and they were also consolidating their military position in the East. He felt that Soviets might direct discussion in any meeting toward European security. The general Soviet idea of forcing US out of Europe was not acceptable. Soviets might propose German neutralization but this also unacceptable since Soviets would insist on controls which would insure control of all Germany. Pinay felt at four power meeting West must present constructive program. This might involve mutual assistance treaties with or without limitation of armaments as well as other positive suggestions. If a four power conference failed we should not break off talks with Soviets but should be ready to carry on further exchange of views.

Italy thanked Pinay; said that problem of security is indivisible from most of other problems. Soviets seem afraid of German rearmament. Therefore we might reaffirm during negotiations with Soviets our desire for disarmament and consider adopting on each side of Iron Curtain a balanced system of limitation of armaments and forces.

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He said there is no similarity between German and Austrian problems and we should take firm position immediately that German and Austrian solutions must be different. West should also establish free elections as condition for unification of Germany. A free Austria has positive advantages for the West particularly its example for Satellites. However, Austrian Treaty also gives rise to questions which concern Italy. Question of neutrality and guarantee of Austrian territory raise questions for Austria’s neighbors. Italy accepts a neutral Austria but Austria must be free to participate in international organizations now in existence and free to cooperate on social, political and economic matters. A neutral Austria also raises military problems for the defense of Italy’s eastern frontier which may have an effect on Italy’s force contribution to NATO.

Turkey made reference to statement that he made this morning4 and expressed appreciation Pinay’s report. Turks could not rejoice about Austria because Soviets trying establish a neutral no-man’s land across Europe in order later to have the military initiative and act against this area which will have low level of armament. On other hand if we oppose Austrian Treaty we would aid Soviet propaganda. Above all Turks believe whole problem of security and disarmament was most important.

Dutch said all agreed ultimate aims of Soviet policy to undermine and destroy capitalistic system have not changed. Their immediate aims to achieve above are (a) to undermine unity of West and (b) to prevent German rearmament. In this policy Soviets thus far unsuccessful as Germany now in NATO. The above two Soviet aims have not been defeated. Soviets are still dangerous and their policy involves alternately threats and lumps of sugar. Fully agree with Adenauer that four power talks will not lead to results in short time. West needs enduring patience and patience particularly hard for Germany which is divided. Some feared Germans would be tempted to yield to Soviet threats or promises and therefore everyone grateful to Adenauer for his determination. Any conference with Soviets will be difficult because we know ultimate Soviet aims have not changed. But we cannot be sure that they won’t eventually change particularly in light of certain Soviet internal weaknesses which may cause them to go further toward meeting the West. One assumption is that Soviets want breathing space to strengthen themselves and overcome their own weaknesses. West is not unwilling to give them a breathing space if it does not endanger its own position and particularly if it does not give up its unity. Therefore, Dutch conclusion is that we [Page 12] should strengthen Western bonds by every means and if a modus operandi with Soviets is reached we must in no case relax our effort or let our guard down. The present situation has potential dangers of another kind. We have been living under conditions of economic boom longer than at any time in the twentieth century. And in this connection there is no doubt that rearmament has helped the present economic boom. West has made good use of this time and modern economists believe they have found devices to avoid economic crises such as in the thirties. But it would be dangerous to assume economic crises could not occur. Therefore, it is very important that every possible step be taken to strengthen the economic unity between Western nations.

Canada expressed appreciation for statements of previous speakers since this gives Canada sense of participation in formulation of policy by those powers with great responsibility. There have been important changes in Soviet policy. While not knowing reason for Soviet changes in tactics it clear Stalin stone-wall tactics modified and in some cases abandoned. Soviet leaders seem to temporarily have abandoned shock tactics of the Revolution for more subtle tactics of gradual absorption. West therefore must change its tactics but not its policy which is working well. West has psychological, political, military and economic strength, to meet Soviets on diplomatic field. We should be more vigilant than ever against easing up and also prevent all efforts to divide us. Pearson warmly welcomed decision to take initiative in talks with Soviets. He said too much should not be expected too soon. As to level of talks, “at the summit, the winds were strong and the air rarefied and it was not the best place to work but might well be the best place to begin.” It vitally important that Western participants know what they want to achieve and fully coordinate among themselves.

Denmark listened with great interest. While not wishing to arouse false expectations through four power talks public opinion indicates it is expedient to try to meet with the Soviets. It seems therefore important that we take and keep the initiative.

Norway agreed with Canada in dual policy of maintaining Western unity and strength and exploiting every possibility to make progress through negotiation. While there is need for flexibility, we must know and fully understand the limits to which we can go in being flexible without giving away our essential and vital positions.

UK. In UK there has been long debate between those who support seeking pacification through weakness which is really appeasement. UK has resisted appeasement. Soviet attitude re Austria proves that if West is strong it will prevail. However, there must be a proper balance between military measures and economic stability. This NATO has achieved with considerable success. There are those [Page 13] who argue that any Soviet attitude toward Austria is a trap baited to achieve a greater result. West should take advantage of Austrian settlement but not swallow bait. We must also overcome Soviet propaganda which presents the Austrian settlement as due to Soviet initiative rather than Soviet acceptance of an offer open for many years. Macmillan glad to hear Adenauer’s vigorous denial of those who say that Germany entered NATO in order to use possibility getting out of NATO as a bargaining point with Soviets to achieve unification. He fully agreed that adoption of new tactics should not involve abandonment of our basic policy and strategy and that we should seek to spread democracy in captive countries. Re four power conference, Macmillan believed this corresponded with deep feeling on part of all people. He could not give composition of conference, but whatever the forum and level, West must enter meeting with a balance between facile optimism and cynical pessimism. A single meeting even of weeks could not solve the problems. We should therefore think of negotiations with the Soviets in terms of an extended period of time during which we would press forward with patience, fairness, and firmness to attain our objectives. All NATO countries anxious that threat of war be reduced. We seek peace, reduction of tensions, methods of strengthening our unity, and if we push ahead on this course with same moderation and strength we have shown in past few years we will ultimately achieve our objectives.

Secretary’s presentation reported in separate telegram.6

Pinay then presented a brief report on the Austrian Treaty negotiations in Vienna.

The Chairman then proposed adjournment but Spaak raised the question of a four-power guarantee for Austria. He said such a guarantee could not be executed without concurrence of Austria’s neighbors and that therefore this was European question in which all were interested. There followed a very confused discussion on the part of a number of Ministers in which some confused Austrian neutrality with the question of territorial guarantee. Secretary got meeting back on tracks by explaining that we are not blind to problems relating to Austria but insofar as we know Soviets seem willing to sign Treaty without pre-conditions. If this is, in fact, the case we will sign. If Soviets pose conditions this would raise other problems. Secretary said that the problems relating to Austrian neutrality and suggestion that there be a territorial guarantee would unquestionably have to be faced but more probably in connection with deposit of ratification. Insofar as US is concerned it has never given a territorial guarantee with the possible exception of Panama where the question of the Canal was involved and it could not give any such guarantee lightly.

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With respect to comments by several of the Ministers that if Austrian neutrality and territory were guaranteed it might have bad effect on other European states which might seek neutralism, Secretary pointed out that Austrian neutrality did not involve demilitarization. On contrary, we had prodded Soviets who had agreed to remove the limitation on Austrian forces. Therefore Austria would not get a free ride but would be obliged in the first instance to look to its own security and carry a defense burden.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 740.5/5–1055. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by MacArthur and approved by Merchant. Repeated to the other NATO capitals for the Ambassador only.
  2. The summary, C–R(55)19, and verbatim, C–VR(55)19, records of this session, both dated May 9, are ibid., Conference Files: Lot 60 D 627, CF 444.
  3. On May 8, Dulles discussed a three-power approach to the Soviet Union about a possible heads of government meeting first with Macmillan and Pinay and later with Adenauer. The minutes of the tripartite and quadripartite meetings, both dated May 8, are ibid., CF 445.
  4. Reference is to Zorlu’s warning that the Soviet tactics of enfeebling their smaller neighbors with a view to ultimate domination posed a grave danger to the West, made during the public morning session. See Polto 2249, supra.
  5. Polto 2253, infra.