7. Editorial Note

In his “First Annual Report to the Congress on United States Foreign Policy for the 1970ʼs” on February 18, 1970, President Richard Nixon made the following statement on Eastern Europe:

“The nations of Eastern Europe have a history with many tragic aspects. Astride the traditional invasion routes of the Continent, they have suffered long periods of foreign occupation and cultural suppression….

“We are aware that the Soviet Union sees its own security as directly affected by developments in this region. Several times, over the centuries, Russia has been invaded through Central Europe; so this sensitivity is not novel, or purely the product of Communist dogma.

“It is not the intention of the United States to undermine the legitimate security interests of the Soviet Union. The time is certainly past, with the development of modern technology, when any power would seek to exploit Eastern Europe to obtain strategic advantage against the Soviet Union. It is clearly not part of our policy. Our pursuit of negotiation and détente is meant to reduce existing tensions, not to stir up new ones.

“By the same token, the United States views the countries of Eastern Europe as sovereign, not parts of a monolith. And we can accept no doctrine that abridges their right to seek reciprocal improvement of relations with us or others.

“We are prepared to enter into negotiations with the nations of Eastern Europe, looking to a gradual normalization of relations. We will adjust ourselves to whatever pace and extent of normalization these countries are willing to sustain.

“Progress in this direction has already been achieved in our relations with Romania. My visit to that country last summer—which will remain unforgettable for me in human terms—set in motion a series of cooperative programs in the economic, technical, scientific and cultural fields. We intend to pursue these with vigor. My talks with President Ceausescu also began the process of exchanging views on broader questions of mutual concern, which, in our view, will contribute to a general improvement of the communication between East and West. A similar relationship is open to any Communist country that wishes to enter it.” (Public Papers: Nixon, 1970, pages 180–181)