166. Airgram From the Embassy in Austria to the Department of State0

A–299. Subject: Kreisky on Austrian-Soviet Relations and Common Market. I had over an hour’s talk with Kreisky yesterday (partly reported in mytel noforn 1094)1 devoted almost entirely to Austro-Soviet relations and Common Market negotiations. He said he would send me copies of the two speeches he had made in Finland during his recent visit. I said I had already read with considerable interest his first speech on Austrian neutrality transmitted by our Embassy in Helsinki. He said that he felt his second speech was “even more anti-Communist” than the first though the “young and inexperienced Austrian reporters” seemed to have misinterpreted some of his major points. It was much more important for him to make those speeches in Finland with Russians present than here in Austria.

He then referred to his remarks concerning possible negotiations with ECE which have been “misunderstood” in some circles here.“After sending our note requesting negotiations with the Common Market we2 must make some counter gesture to restore the balance with the Russians” [Page 364] he said. “The ECE is an organization to which the Russians belong but in which the West can outvote the Soviet bloc. The United States is likewise a full member. To talk about trade or other economic questions in that forum seems to me at least harmless even though it is mostly ‘bla bla’; it might even in the long run produce some results.” In talking to Avilov latter had complained that Austria only dealt with NATO or Western organizations, why not make some approach to CEMA. Kreisky replied that because of fact CEMA has many political provisions and implications with which Austria could not be associated and its whole system is based on state trading and controls with which Austria could not be associated, this was impossible. He, Kreisky, suggested ECE as a possible forum to which both United States and Soviet Union belonged and he saw no objection to discussing Soviet proposals in that forum. Avilov asked whether Austria would discuss all Soviet proposals. Kreisky replied not all but those which seem “reasonable”. Avilov, he said, seemed interested.

In other words, Kreisky clearly considers his ECE gesture as a demonstration of Austrian neutrality between the two blocs which might lessen future Soviet pressure and cost Austria nothing tangible. He hoped we would understand his motivation and the need for some such gesture.

He reiterated (my airgram A–272)3 the firmness of his insistence that Austrian negotiations with the Common Market must go on. This was not only against the strong opposition of Gorbach, Bock, etc. as well as Austrian industrialists who were opposed to taking any steps at this time in fear of offending the Soviets, but they had even sent some of his Socialist friends to try to persuade him to agree. He said he had made it quite clear that if the announced note were not sent he would resign and publicly explain the reasons. It would have been a fatal invitation to the Russians to step up their pressure. During his absence in Finland, he said, “they made two changes weakening the original text in our note to the EEC which I would not have agreed to had I been there, but they were very minor ones.” The Govt had also agreed to substitute the word “arrangements” for “association”, though he said the Russians of course “really understand the distinction between association and membership, whatever they may pretend to the contrary.” I inquired concerning a current rumor that the Chancellor and some others in government circles would now like to withdraw the note and he said this was not true.

[1 paragraph (5 lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.63/12–2261. Confidential; Noforn. Drafted by Matthews.
  2. Telegram 1094, December 21, reported on Matthews’ discussion with Kreisky over the Soviet note on Austrian association with the EEC. (Ibid., 375.42/12–2161)
  3. Austria applied for EEC associate status on December 15.
  4. Airgram A–272, December 7, reported Kreisky’s views on EEC association and Soviet pressures. (Department of State, Central Files, 374.52/12–761)