183. Memorandum of Conversation0



New York, September 1963


  • South Tyrol


  • [Here follows the same list as Document 181.]

Kreisky said Austria had the warmest feelings of friendship for Italy and wants very much to settle their differences by negotiation. On the South Tyrol he saw two differing approaches in Italy. There were those, more toward the Right, who wanted to settle it internally by dealing with powerful interests in the Tyrol. This would only lead to new discontent and disorder and, in a few months the Austrian Government would again be involved. The other group, rather to the Left, favored agreement with Austria which would obviate further Austrian intervention. At present everything in Italy was in flux and they are not now ready to talk seriously. It was too late to have polite conversations about procedure, they had to get down to substance.

The Rossi Commission Report1 had some good points, Kreisky said. Austria felt it necessary to reach an agreement in which the Italians would say how they would deal with problems which might arise in the future. Austria believes the best procedure for this would be agreement by the Italian Government to deal with the Senators from the South Tyrol as the true representatives of these people. This was the way the Italians dealt with other internal problems. The Austrian Government wants a formal document, perhaps an annex to the Paris Accord, and would also want to report any agreement to the GA. Such a formal agreement would include provisions for treating any breach of the agreement. For this purpose Austria was not averse to the International Court’s acting.

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Kreisky said there were minorities in many European countries and there were satisfactory arrangements for all except for those in the South Tyrol. He warned that there was real danger in the situation. If Italy and Austria reached no agreement this would become a German/Italian issue. This was already true in part of German public opinion. He did not welcome the engagement of the German press in the problem and wished above all to avoid its becoming a pan-German issue. Within the CDU in the Federal Republic, there were strong nationalist elements and exile German groups with great influence who were pressing to make the Brenner boundary an issue like the Oder-Neisse boundary. Kreisky said Italy had failed to heed his warning about terrorism and the center of these activities had now shifted to Munich.

Kreisky complained that the Italians kept finding pretexts to cancel meetings with the Austrians. He said the U.S. had not been able to accept his proposals several years ago that we tell the Italians they must cope with the problem and offer our assistance, as had been done successfully in Trieste. The Secretary noted the great and numerous burdens which we have in the world. He implored Kreisky to save us this one and to work it out with the Italians.

Kreisky said they did not intend to ask for GA action this year. They had to keep the pressure on Italy and, therefore, he had reported on the matter in his address to the GA.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL Aus-E.Eur. Confidential. Drafted by Appling and approved in S on October 2. The meeting was held at the U.S. Mission. The source text is labeled “Part 3 of 4”; see Documents 181 and 182.
  2. A report prepared by a committee of Italian parliamentarians, chaired by Social Democrat Deputy Paolo Rossi, was scheduled for presentation to the Italian Government at the end of October.