19. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, April 4, 19551
- Austrian Treaty
- Dr. Karl Gruber, Austrian Ambassador
- Dr. Ernst Lemberger, Counselor, Austrian Embassy
- WE—Mr. John Wesley Jones
- WE—Mr. Richard Freund
- WE—Mr. Edgar P. Allen
Dr. Gruber, having just returned from Vienna, came in to review recent developments. In discussing the problem of troop evacuation, concerning which the Soviets made a recent reference, Dr. Gruber speculated that the Mendes-France proposal of last fall may possibly have been preceded by some Soviet-French understanding.2 He did not elaborate.
He expressed his belief that it is tactically wise for Raab, Schaerf, Figl and Kreisky all to go to Moscow, as they would all have to withdraw for discussion among themselves before replying to any significant Soviet proposal or question.
Dr. Gruber said that Raab and the entire Austrian Cabinet are now agreed that no Austrian commitment will be given in Moscow. The agreed procedure will be for the Austrians to endeavor to obtain Soviet views and to return to Vienna for a discussion of the situation within the Austrian Government and with the Western powers. If requested to submit an Austrian proposal, Raab will take the position that any Austrian proposal must be submitted to all four Powers at the same time and cannot be negotiated or agreed bilaterally. Raab, personally, does not wish to remain in Moscow longer than three days and hopes that he will be able to leave at the end of that time. If the Soviets insist on a longer stay, Raab hopes to depart perhaps leaving some subordinates in Moscow to carry on.
Dr. Gruber sees two dangers in the present situation:
- That everybody may expect too much, and
- If the negotiations are broken off abruptly, the Austrian people might be frightened, having in mind recent Soviet threats concerning NATO, partition, uselessness of Allied Council, etc.
He, therefore, hopes that the Raab visit may lead to a situation which will permit negotiations to continue.
Dr. Gruber said that the Soviets appeared to be very disappointed when informed by the Austrians that the U.S. had not objected to the Raab visit. He thinks it highly desirable that the proposed tripartite statement3 include a statement to the effect that the West welcomes the Raab trip.
Dr. Gruber referred to the fact that the Austrians have been saying for years that they will not participate in any military alliances. He believes that this Austrian stand took a propaganda weapon out of Soviet hands and now the Communist press is objecting to any economic alliances, OEEC, etc., knowing that the Austrians could not accept any such restriction. He said that during one of Bischoff’s talks with Molotov the latter indicated that verbal guarantees would not be enough, the impression being that the Soviets want something that would permit them to keep their foot in the door. The Austrian Government, he added, would refuse any provision for a Soviet right of re-entry.
Dr. Gruber believes it important that the Austrian public remain convinced that the West really desires an Austrian treaty. He mentioned in this connection the very undesirable effect of a lower ranking military officer in Salzburg who is reported to have remarked at a recent cocktail party that the U.S. really does not want an Austrian treaty.
On the question of a tripartite statement, concerning which Ambassador Gruber said that he hopes we will show him the proposed text as soon as available, he volunteered the opinion that the following points should be included therein:
- The West should avoid giving any impression that they have not been kept fully informed by the Austrians concerning recent developments;
- The West should stress the fact that they have consistently worked for a treaty and that they wish one now;
- It should be made clear that there has been no break between Austria and the West on the Raab visit;
- The statement should not be too optimistic concerning future developments.
While discussing the composition of the Austrian party which will go to Moscow, Dr. Gruber remarked that the Chief of the Legal Division of the Foreign Office was included in the party because of the fact that he had prepared proposed texts on the question of guarantees. Dr. Gruber said that he had advised his Government to leave these texts at home and to show no texts to the Soviets. He indicated [Page 32] that the Austrian Government had agreed to his suggestion. Dr. Gruber said that he had also advised his Government that if developments should warrant Austria’s requesting a conference, the Austrian request should be merely for a “conference” (which could be on an Ambassadorial level) and that Austria should avoid specifically requesting a Foreign Ministers’ conference. He agreed that any such Austrian proposal would, of course, not be made until after consultation with the West.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 663.001/4-455. Secret. Drafted by Allen. Four copies of this memorandum were sent to the Embassy in Vienna.↩
- In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly on November 22, 1954, French Prime Minister Mendès-France had proposed, inter alia, that Austria accept a time limit of 18 months to 2 years for the evacuation of troops after the signing of a treaty.↩
- See the editorial note, infra .↩