164. Memorandum of Conversation0


  • US-Austrian Relations


  • The Secretary
  • Ambassador Wilfried Platzer, Austrian Embassy
  • Mr. Robert H. McBride, WE

The Austrian Ambassador opened the conversation by saying that general US-Austrian relations were good and that there were no real problems remaining now that the Vienna Memorandum1 had been settled. He said that the Austrian Government did hope that the US would ratify the Austrian Assets Treaty but said he did not think his Government would press this claim under current circumstances because the Austrians were also delinquent in settling the Jewish claims matter. [Page 361] Ambassador Platzer then said that his Government hoped if the Geneva Nuclear Test Ban negotiations were to lead to the conclusion of an agreement, that the US Government would support Vienna as the location for the Nuclear Test Ban Control Agency. He noted that the British Government had agreed to Vienna, as had the previous US Administration. Therefore, he hoped that the new Administration would also agree on Vienna. The Secretary said that he saw no reason to oppose location of this institution in Vienna and said that the Austrian request seemed a reasonable one.

The Secretary then inquired as to the members and status of Hungarian refugees in Austria. Ambassador Platzer said there were about 18,000 still there and that these were mostly integrated into Austrian life. It was thought that around 10,000 would remain permanently. He noted that in 1956 this had been a great problem when there had been 200,000 Hungarian refugees in Austria. The Secretary noted that he had been in Vienna at that time and had gone to Budapest with the International Red Cross.

Ambassador Platzer then said that his Government hoped there could be a bilateral PL 480 loan2 to cover housing projects which the Austrians wished to undertake. He said that this was now in the process of being drafted and that we would be consulted further on this question. He said the Austrian proposal would be to use counterpart funds accruing from PL 480 corn. He thought the total cost was in the vicinity of $12 million, of which $1.6 million would be from US sources.

The Secretary then noted that we had an extremely experienced and distinguished diplomat in Vienna and we expected him to stay on there.

The Austrian Ambassador then reviewed the South Tyrol problem briefly. He noted that this had been raised in the United Nations General Assembly last fall because up until that time there had not been any progress achieved.3 He noted, furthermore, that the Italian and Austrian Governments started from quite different premises in approaching the question. He said that the Italians spoke only of the implementation of the existing de Gasperi–Gruber agreement4 whereas what the Austrians had in mind was local autonomy in the Province of Bolzano. He said the Austrians were continuing to undertake bilateral talks with the Italians because this was the sense of the UNGA resolution. He added, however, that the UN resolution spoke of seeking a settlement by other peaceful means if it were not possible through direct bilateral talks.

The Secretary said he thought a solution of this problem would take patience and a long time.

The Secretary inquired as to whether there were any contacts in Vienna with Eastern Europe through students, etc. Ambassador Platzer said there were not many Eastern European students in Austria but noted that some contacts did take place during the Vienna Trade Fair. He then referred to Austrian efforts in the cultural and other fields in underdeveloped countries. The Secretary said that the help of all the European countries to the underdeveloped countries is extremely useful and thought that countries such as Austria should supply experts and technicians which were even more in short supply than money.

Ambassador Platzer then referred to the Common Market–EFTA problem which he said was a serious one for Austria. The Secretary said [Page 362] that we, of course, did not know what the outcome of this problem would be but that we hoped the OECD would be of assistance. He thought the presence of friendly outsiders such as ourselves in the OECD might be useful and that an ultimate solution depended on time, patience, and hard work. Ambassador Platzer said that Austria’s problems were made acute by the fact that fifty percent of her trade was with the Common Market countries whereas only twelve percent was with the other six EFTA countries. Italy and Germany were the main trading partners of Austria. He added that Austria also imported wheat, cotton, and corn in large quantities from the United States. The Secretary inquired if tourism was the main source of dollar income for Austria. Ambassador Platzer said that Austria’s principal exports were iron and steel products and other industrial products. He said that tourism did definitely assist in the balance of payments field. For example, Austria imported about $100 million a year in products from the United States while exporting only about $50 million to us. Tourism largely made up this difference so that the Austrian dollar position was not unfavorable.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330. Confidential. Drafted by McBride and approved in S on March 8.
  2. For text of this memorandum, May 10, 1955, outlining protections afforded by the Austrian State Treaty with respect to the United States and the United Kingdom, see 7 UST 803.
  3. For text of P.L. 480, the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, enacted July 10, 1954, see 68 Stat. 454.
  4. The Special Political Committee of the General Assembly heard the issue at a special 10-day October 1960 session. On October 27, it adopted a resolution urging Austria and Italy to resolve their differences through direct negotiations. The General Assembly approved the resolution on October 31. For text, see U.N. Res. 1497 (XV).
  5. For text of the de Gasperi–Gruber Agreement, signed on September 9, 1946, and appended to the Treaty of Peace with Italy, signed in Paris on February 10, 1947, see 61 Stat. 1245.