308. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Austrian Matters


  • Dr. Wilfried Platzer, Ambassador, Embassy of Austria
  • Dr. Heinz Haymerle, Director, Political Department, Austrian Foreign Office1
  • Mr. Frederick W. Jandrey, Deputy Assistant Secretary, European Affairs
  • WE—Mr. McBride
  • WE—Mr. Cameron
  • WE—Miss Harvey
  • WE—Mr. Chapin

1. Austrian-United States Relations

Mr. Jandrey said that within the past six months he had the opportunity to talk with several Austrian representatives. The United States had a high regard for what Austria had done in the last ten years and that its economic development had been remarkable.

In all of his talks with senior Austrian officials, he had mentioned two matters which had been a constant preoccupation to us: the Vienna Memorandum and Article 26. He was disappointed that these matters had not been settled, and he urged that Christmas be considered as a target date for agreement. The proposal of the oil companies with regard to the Vienna Memorandum had seemed a logical one and one which could be carried out without difficulty. With regard to Article 26, the United States had sent a special team to Austria which had negotiated for a month, but two problems still remained: the total amount and the percentage deduction of Hilfsfond payments. We were disappointed at the delay. Mr. Jandrey said that he had mentioned to Minister Kamitz that Austria’s obligations to the USSR had been taken care of with great despatch, but the obligations to the United States in the State Treaty were still unsettled.2 He was conscious of the problems posed by the coalition government in Austria but did not consider that this was a valid excuse for not carrying out the obligations which are the responsibility [Page 795] of the Austrian Government as a whole. The United States Government was deeply concerned with these two negotiations, and perhaps that concern had not been made thoroughly clear to the Austrian Government.

Dr. Haymerle replied that Austria realized only too well the importance which the United States attached to a prompt settlement of the two matters. He believed that the two negotiations were on their way to solution.

Mr. Jandrey replied that Dr. Kamitz gave similar assurances when he was here, and Mr. Jandrey certainly hoped that the matters would not drag on beyond the end of the year.

2. Austria and the Soviet Union

Mr. Jandrey said that certain developments over the past six months about Austrian relations with the Soviet Union and the tone and content of various observations and public statements had not been easily understandable. Some of these statements were rapidly exploited by Soviet propaganda and had been the cause of concern. It was sometimes said that a large country often took a small country for granted. He thought that the reverse was also true, especially if the large country had been very helpful and cooperative in the past toward the small country.

There had been some question as to the direction in which Austria was going. It was perfectly obvious to the United States that Austria’s interest lay with Western Europe. In this connection, there had been developments with regard to neutrality which had also been of some concern. We had noted the Chancellor’s recent references to military neutrality, but there had been some tendency in the past to equate East and West. Austria, being closer to the Soviet bloc, should be even more aware of Soviet intentions and methods of operations than the United States.

Dr. Haymerle assured Mr. Jandrey that Austrian foreign policy was not changing. He welcomed an opportunity to clear up any possible misunderstanding. The basis of Austrian foreign policy was friendship for the United States, and it was also the basis of Austrian security. Any statements made in Moscow were not intended to indicate a policy change. They might have been made in the heat of Moscow’s summer and as a result of the Chancellor’s poor physical condition. These remarks should not be interpreted out of context. Austria had never given another interpretation to its neutrality than one of military neutrality as set forth in its neutrality law. The Austrian Delegation has refused in Moscow to give any new interpretation of its neutrality. There had been some misunderstanding concerning the Chancellor’s statement that Austrian neutrality was “unlimited in time” but this was never intended to mean that Austrian neutrality was without limits.

[Page 796]

Mr. Jandrey also referred to the recent congratulatory message by the Chancellor to the Congress of the Austro-Soviet Society and to the reception of a Soviet Delegation by President Schaerf. These were incidents which could be misunderstood in the United States. In reply, Dr. Haymerle stressed the unimportance of the Austro-Soviet Society and the fact that President Koerner had previously greeted Soviet representatives to such Congresses.

In a larger sense, Dr. Haymerle said that Austria felt somewhat out of the Western circuit. There were many discussions going on among NATO countries in which Austria obviously could not take part but there were other international issues on which Austria could be helpful. He mentioned Austria’s role during the Hungarian crisis. He thought that a Western neutral like Austria could have influence as a mediator in the UN. Many people in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were attracted by the example of Austrian neutrality and dreamed of some day having a status like Austria’s for their own countries.

Austria saw eye to eye with the United States on many foreign policy issues. As he had said earlier, Austria believed that the United States was right in standing firm on Berlin, and he had recently discussed with Ambassador Platzer the fact that the United States had been right in taking a firm stand on Quemoy and Matsu.

3. Overflights

Mr. Jandrey said that we had been dismayed by the public criticism of our overflights in July when we thought that the matter had previously been worked out. We were, however, appreciative of the permission to return troops from Lebanon over Austrian territory and hoped to get back to the overflights system existing before mid-July.

Dr. Haymerle repeated his familiar arguments that the United States had only discussed overflights of thirty to fifty planes, that he had requested that the note3 be predated for the sake of appearances, and that he had understood that the flights were to evacuate civilians from Lebanon. Austria could not permit flights of armed men over its territory. Such operations would be precedents for requests from Eastern European countries to overfly Austria. The return flight from Lebanon was a different matter because it was in connection with a resolution of the UN. Switzerland followed the same general policy as Austria with regard to overflights.

[1 paragraph (7 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.63/12–858. Secret. Drafted by Chapin.
  2. Haymerle was in New York as a member of the Austrian Delegation to the U.N. General Assembly. He traveled by train to Washington on December 7 and returned to New York on the afternoon of December 8 after visiting with several Department of State officials. A briefing memorandum from McBride to Jandrey, December 4, is ibid., 763.0$/12–458.
  3. See Document 307.
  4. Presumably an Austrian note of July 18; not found in Department of State files.