178. Telegram From the Embassy in Austria to the Department of State0
774. Brussels for ECBUS; Paris also for USRO. Foreign Minister Kreisky told me October 18 he received Soviet Ambassador Avilov October 16. Avilov, speaking for his government, gave stern warning (but no ultimatum) about Soviet disapproval “negative attitude” of Austria on question EEC. Avilov brushed aside Kreisky’s familiar arguments that Austrian attempts associate EEC were for vital trade and economic reasons and would avoid political obligations Rome Treaty. He referred instead to Austrian “beitritt” (joining) and “anschluss.” Demarche was verbal, but Avilov implied formal note would follow.
Soviets expressed astonishment at public Austrian statement optimism concerning “success” Gorbach’s Moscow trip in avoiding active Soviet opposition Austrian EEC participation. Avilov said Khrushchev made his position very clear. Austrian neutrality and state treaty prohibited formal ties with Common Market and Soviet relations with Austria would of necessity be significantly altered in case Austrian-EEC relationship established. Austrians should understand Soviets view Common Market as economic base for NATO, and attachment to such important arm Western military bloc incompatible Austrian neutrality. Soviets now beginning wonder what Austrian neutrality means, said Avilov. Should they believe Chancellor Gorbach, Vice Chancellor Pittermann (whose recent utterances have been inclined to soothe Russians) or Governor Krainer of Styria (past exponent of close Austrian ties with Common Market)?
Kreisky’s response was Austrians under no illusion about implications Khrushchev’s statements at time Moscow trip, but they prepared associate with EEC under terms which will protect their neutrality, which only they must define. Kreisky had shown Gromyko in advance proposed Austrian EEC application statement which defined limits Austria-EEC association, and Gromyko had interposed no objection. Soviets should now wait and see how Austrian EEC negotiations progressed, and nature of measures Austrians took to uphold their neutrality.
Kreisky told Avilov Soviets making mistake attempt read hidden meanings in campaign statements on neutrality. Austrian Government united on EEC policy and on neutrality issue and election would not affect [Page 379] these views. On NATO issue Kreisky repeated Austria intended engage in no commitments which would violate neutrality, and asserted Rome Treaty has no military clauses or secret protocols. He challenged Avilov explain if COMECON was any more or less economic base for Warsaw Pact countries than EEC and NATO. Kreisky alluded to Khru-shchev’s statement during Moscow visit that Soviets also want agreement with EEC and asked why neutral Austria should be denied same privilege. Avilov answered difference great. Soviets simply wanted trade with EEC whereas Austria wanted integration. When Kreisky pointed out Austria proceeding jointly with Swiss and Swedes, Avilov off-handedly replied Soviets no longer view Swiss and Swedes as true neutrals. (Kriesky put this down as impulsive personal response rather than official government position.) Avilov then berated Austrians for participating European Space Agency (ESRO), stating that this too was program serving Western military objectives and not consonant neutrality. Kreisky said anything, including telephone, can be instrument of war. Austrians cannot deny themselves right benefit from participating peaceful rocket research any more that they can on communications research. Otherwise country would be relegated backwater in keeping up with technological change.
Kreisky cautious about assessing reasons for Soviet approach at this time. He thought it was part of basic campaign against EEC but also beginning of intensified bloc pressure on Austria. He repeated his views of Moscow’s proliferation of trouble spots during periods tension. In Embassy’s view, Soviets may also have been encouraged by Moscow trip Vice Chancellor Pittermann and his recent ill-timed and partially misinterpreted public statements on “economic neutrality”. Soviets also of course aware Austrian Government in midst heated political campaign and unable take strong coordinated government action until after November 18 elections. Also may hope renewed threats, combined with existing internal opposition to EEC affiliation, might cause new government reconsider Austrian position re EEC.
Kreisky, however, foresees no shift in GOA plans start EEC negotiations soon as possible. He can be expected in meantime report this development Oslo EFTA ministerial meeting next week.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 661.63/10–1962. Secret. Repeated to Paris, London, Bern, Stockholm, Oslo, Moscow, Brussels, Lisbon, and Copenhagen.↩