88. Telegram From the Embassy in Italy to the Department of State1

1841. For Ambassador Reinhardt. Following are Embassy’s comments on Embtel 1814:2

Main subjects raised with Ambassador by President Segni smack of unease with which he regards Italy’s current international posture, heightened no doubt by his distrust of center-left government. Would appear he wishes to set forth in Washington especially those worries that he may feel are not sufficiently shared by Moro and in case of Germany and Yugoslavia by US Government.

Segni is basically conservative. He therefore is against and fears new center-left government headed by Moro. There is even some speculation that he would like to see it fall as soon as possible and would not be averse to helping bring this about if it were at all possible. Therefore, when Segni urges that MLF be pushed ahead despite Socialist objections, it is possible that he does so not only out of pure pro-Western [Page 174] conviction and ardor. We would therefore recommend repeating to him that the US is prepared to go along as fast as our allies interested in the project feel themselves able to go. We are not trying to rush things neither are we trying to postpone them. We understand what may be British internal problems as we do those of Italy.3

On point two, concerning Yugoslavia,4 two factors probably underlie Segni’s concern: (1) Fact Moro has accepted invitation to visit Belgrade; (2) implications Segni and some of his top advisers may feel flow from US intentions to carry out certain military reductions in Europe, particularly in Italy. It is not unlikely, though we have no direct evidence, that Andreotti has discussed with Segni US proposed reduction in US forces in SETAF through transfer to Italy of certain support functions, and may wish try to head this off, lest such withdrawals lead eventually to complete US withdrawal from SETAF and even now begin give encouragement to neutralist trends and sympathies in Italy.

Certainly Segni’s concern about Yugoslavia is not consistent with views of Italian FonOff, as reflected by Director Political Office II (Terruzzi) and included in FonOff briefing of Saragat at end December (Embtel 1743).5

It is however consistent with perennial rumors of such Yugo build-ups. They traditionally regard Yugoslavia as Italy’s natural enemy. Our Army Attaché however states that he has seen no hard evidence of Yugoslav military build-up along Italian border. In fact in last talk he had on subject with US Army Attaché Belgrade (Sept. 63) he learned that latter also had no evidence that such rumors were worthy of credence.

If Segni raises Yugoslav problem while in US, we would hope US officials would air it thoroughly with him and with Saragat, particularly in making clear basic aspects of US-Yugoslav policy which Italian military and perhaps also Segni apparently do not understand and even regard with some distrust.

As for Segni’s concern about nationalist tendencies in Germany,6 Department does not need our advice on how to handle what seems to us to be an exaggerated expression of a fear which is widely held [Page 175] in Italy. We would only suggest, as regards aspect of particular relevance to Italy, consideration of the possibility of turning point around by hinting to Segni that Italian Government should consider jointly with FRG serious effort to improve German public image in this country through emphasis on its European-minded, democratically-oriented, non-nationalistic aspects. Curiously enough, it is usually Communists and other leftist political elements here who are prone to dwell on alleged dangers of German militarism and nationalism, rather than such right-wingish Christian Democrats as Segni.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 IT. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Also sent to Bonn, London, and Paris.
  2. Telegram 1814 from Rome, January 9, reported on Ambassador Reinhardt’s January 8 discussions with President Segni regarding MLF, Yugoslavia, Germany, and his visit to the United States. (Ibid.)
  3. In his conversation with Reinhardt, Segni stated “he did not understand why Italian action on MLF should be linked with British elections.” (Ibid.)
  4. According to telegram 1814 from Rome, Segni stated that the “military posture of Yugoslavia hellip; is now directed against Italy hellip;. He expressed fear about policies which might be followed hellip; by Tito’s successors,” and concern about border problems.
  5. Telegram 1743 from Rome, December 30, 1963, reported that Moro and Saragat had accepted invitations to visit Yugoslavia. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 7 IT)
  6. According to telegram 1814 from Rome, Segni told Reinhardt that “he believed that German nationalism could be contained by strengthening Germany’s position in an integrated Europe.”