154. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • Call by Yugoslav Ambassador Prior to His Return to Belgrade on Consultation


  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Marko Nikezic, Yugoslav Ambassador
  • Mr. James S. Sutterlin, EE

The Yugoslav Ambassador, Mr. Nikezic, called, at his request, on the Secretary on April 11, 1960 prior to returning to Yugoslavia for consultation. At the opening of the conversation he said that he thought greatest emphasis had been placed in Yugoslavia recently on the economic development of the country and he wished to express his Government’s satisfaction at the continuing US interest in the Yugoslav economy. He noted that in past years the provision of commodities under PL 480 had been the primary method of US assistance. Now, he said, the need for this type of assistance has almost disappeared which is evidence that the purposes of this program in Yugoslavia have been largely fulfilled. The Ambassador referred to Yugoslavia’s hopes of participating in the forthcoming exploratory OEEC meeting in Paris1 and said that Yugoslavia must develop as a part of the world market and therefore attributes great importance to the patterns that will be worked out for trade through regional organizations. Noting that Yugoslavia has now had observer status for five years with the OEEC, he said that his Government would also like to have a similar status with CEMA, the Soviet economic coordination body, but its applications have thus far been rejected. Ambassador Nikezic said that significant economic progress had been made in Yugoslavia in recent years which he thought was due in large measure to the liberalization which had been increasingly introduced in the economic system. He emphasized that continuing US economic support will be essential, however, not only for economic reasons but in order to strengthen Yugoslavia’s political position. There is no question of the Yugoslav Government’s intention to continue its present independent policy, he said, but in order to do this it must keep ahead of its Soviet bloc neighbors in economic progress.

The Secretary, turning the conversation to current international prospects, said that his attitude toward the forthcoming summit talks2 [Page 407] has been somewhat pessimistic because in his view it is better not to build up overly optimistic expectations. The problems which we face, he noted, are very difficult. He then stated that we are concerned at the attitude which the Soviet Union has been taking toward West Germany of late, adding that we have noted that the Yugoslav Government has also been very critical of the Federal Republic. The Secretary emphasized that all of West Germany’s armed forces at the present time are under NATO command and the arms of these forces are controlled by the WEU. It is our feeling, the Secretary said, that the Federal Republic today is dedicated to democratic principles. A long enduring division of Germany could, he continued, provide a possibility for the rise of a new nationalistic movement in Germany and it is, therefore, highly important, in our opinion, to find a solution which would overcome this division. Ambassador Nikezic replied that what worries Yugoslavia is not West Germany’s present military potential but rather the spirit which underlies the social development of the highly dynamic German people. Such events as Adenauer’s Rome statement concerning “Germany’s mission,”3 for example, and the possibility of German military bases in Spain,4 give the Yugoslav Government cause for concern, he said, although he conceded that the Spanish bases question is largely one of logistics. The Ambassador commented that it is possible, due to the rise of the US and the Soviet Union as the dominant powers, that Germany will not in the future play a decisive role in threats to world peace. The outstanding question of the German border,5 however, and the division of Germany are dangerous elements, and in the Yugoslav view the seeds that were planted in Germany 25 years ago still remain. Yugoslavia, he stated, as a country which for centuries fought for its unification, well understands the desire of the German people to be united; but such reunification, in his view, depends on the larger issue between the West and the East and until such settlement occurs the Soviet Union is not likely to give up the part of Germany “it has”.

Ambassador Nikezic then asked the Secretary how he viewed the prospects for progress in the settlement of international issues at the Summit Meeting. The Secretary replied that Khrushchev has been talking [Page 408] a great deal lately about signing a separate peace treaty with East Germany.6 The significance of such action would obviously be its threat to the status quo in Berlin. If Khrushchev is serious in some of the threatening statements he has made on this subject in Indonesia,7 for example, then a very dangerous situation could develop, the Secretary said. Moreover, the attitude shown by Khrushchev on the Berlin question could have a very adverse effect on the achievement of future agreements on disarmament and the cessation of nuclear testing. How can the West enter into binding agreements with the Soviet Union on disarmament if the Soviet Union is not willing to adhere to agreements reached earlier on a subject such as Berlin, the Secretary asked. Ambassador Nikezic said that he understood this point, adding that it was clear that all problems discussed at the summit must be viewed as part of a package and not as separate items on an agenda which can be isolated from one another.

The Secretary remarked that he is hopeful that progress can be made in coming weeks on an agreement concerning nuclear testing. The Soviet representative in Geneva8 has stated frankly, he said, that there are two decisions pending which are of a political nature and on which he must have decisions from Moscow: (1) the number of inspections and (2) the length of the moratorium. The Secretary commented that it is possible that these questions may come up for settlement at the Summit. He noted that we are sending to Geneva a program for coordinated research on the detection problem on which we are prepared to spend a great deal of money since it is a problem for which we are deeply interested in finding a solution. We want a complete cessation of testing, he emphasized, but with inspection. Ambassador Nikezic commented that since Soviet installations are more secret than those of the West the Soviets presumably fear they will lose more by inspection than will the West. The Secretary agreed but said that further knowledge in this field is being acquired every day and that secrecy is already a wasting asset. The Soviet approach to disarmament is different from our own, he continued, and difficult for us to understand. The Soviet Union, he explained, wants binding agreements leading to total disarmament without any concern for the realistic steps which must be undertaken in order to reach such disarmament without prejudicing the security of individual states. If disarmament were achieved without some force majeure under international control then mere numbers could overwhelm other [Page 409] nations. We want to be sure, the Secretary underscored, that such a situation will not develop since it could jeopardize the independence of small nations and for that matter might pose a problem for the Soviet Union in view of the size of the Chinese population, for example. Ambassador Nikezic said that he was convinced that the Russians are now rich enough so that they do not wish to have a war.

The Secretary closed the conversation by wishing the Ambassador good luck on his trip to Belgrade.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 64 D 199. Official Use Only. Drafted by Sutterlin, approved in S on April 13, and initialed by Herter.
  2. Scheduled for May 21–25, the meeting was to discuss reorganization of the OEEC.
  3. The four-power summit was to begin in Paris on May 16.
  4. In a January 22 talk with Pope John XXIII during his January 21–24 visit to Italy, Adenauer stated that the Germans had the duty of guarding the West from the East.
  5. On February 23, The Times of London reported that the Federal Republic of Germany and Spain had negotiated an agreement for the establishment of military supply bases in Spain. The German Government denied that it was establishing its own bases and insisted that it was utilizing training facilities in Spain as part of its NATO defense commitment.
  6. Reference is to the Polish border with Germany. Large segments of pre-war Germany were incorporated into Poland in 1945. These incorporations had not been recognized by the Western powers.
  7. In a statement at Paris on April 2, Khrushchev reiterated that signature of a Soviet-East German treaty would void Western rights in Berlin.
  8. Khrushchev visited Indonesia February 18–29.
  9. At the Ten-Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, which met March 15–June 27.