141. Memorandum for the Record by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Stoessel)1


  • US-Soviet Views on CSCE Preparatory Negotiations

I saw the Soviet DCM, Yuly Vorontsov, this afternoon to discuss with him our respective views on various issues concerning the preparatory talks in Helsinki for a CSCE.2

I went over with Vorontsov the main points I had made in my talk with him April 17:3 (1) the Western side at Helsinki had been taken aback by the harshness of Zorin’s statements toward the end of Phase III in Helsinki concerning Basket III on Human Contacts; (2) this, in turn, had stiffened the stance of the Allies concerning the issue of Inviolability of Frontiers in Basket I; and (3) if progress were to be [Page 437] achieved on the Inviolability of Frontiers issue, it was essential for the Soviets to display flexibility on Human Contacts and to do so in bilateral contacts with the members of the European Community.

Vorontsov said the points I had made were understood and he knew that the authorities in Moscow were taking a careful look at the question of Human Contacts. He thought that Zorin probably had been too “literal” in his statement and he was sure that some flexibility was possible. He thought it would be desirable if work in Helsinki on the resumption of the preparatory talks in Phase IV could concentrate on Basket III—Human Contacts. With progress there, he hoped there could be progress in other areas. In general, he deplored the linkage between various items and said this caused a bad reaction in Moscow. At the same time, he agreed with me that all delegations approached the negotiations from the standpoint of what the over-all results would be in terms of the whole package.

Human Contacts

At Vorontsov’s request, I reviewed with him in some detail the various drafts which have been proposed in Helsinki for Basket III and made certain suggestions in that connection. Concerning the Soviet draft “Chapeau,” I said that the reference to “laws and customs” was objectionable and probably would not be accepted by the West. I thought this point could be covered by reference to “sovereignty and non-interference.” I thought that such reference probably could be introduced into the Austrian “Chapeau” draft.4

I noted the last sentence of the first paragraph of the Soviet “Chapeau” draft about non-utilization of cultural contacts and information for propaganda of war, etc. I said we had difficulty with this sentence since it seemed to imply that countries would utilize contacts for these purposes. Vorontsov said he understood, but still felt that something was needed to indicate that contacts for dissemination of information should not be used to the detriment of good relations between states.

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I agreed that it might be possible to work out some generalized language to make this point.

In connection with the Danish points (1) (A) (B) and (C) on Marriage, Family Reunification, and Travel,5 I made the following comments. I said that the first two points on Marriage and Family Reunification were of particular interest to the FRG and Canada. I thought that it should be possible to work out some general language which by implication could cover these points, perhaps along the lines of the Austrian “Chapeau” which speaks of “better conditions for personal meetings between people and solving humanitarian problems.” I said that the U.S. was particularly interested in the travel item although I did not feel we would insist on the exact language of Danish paragraph (1) (C).

So far as the remainder of the mandate on Basket III—culture, education, and information—I said this should present no major problem. I noted, however, that we were interested in the point on dissemination of and access to foreign books and periodicals, while the Italians seemed particularly attached to the point on distribution of films. Vorontsov wondered whether it was necessary to go into the cultural and educational questions in such detail, but I pointed out that some of the Warsaw Pact countries, particularly Poland and Czechoslovakia, seemed especially interested in spelling these matters out in some detail. As a general point, I noted that we felt the Eastern drafts on these subjects tended to stress too much contacts between organizations and pay insufficient attention to contacts between people.

Concluding the discussion on Human Contacts, I said I thought there was a basis on the background of work already done for a common approach; however, this would require some “give” on the Soviet part. Vorontsov seemed to feel that the points I had made were not unacceptable and he agreed that the elements of a common approach were present.

Frontier Inviolability

Vorontsov then raised the question of Frontier Inviolability and said he hoped we could agree that this principle could be cited in the text of principles guiding relations between states in a way which would not link it or subordinate it to other principles and which would be similar to the form in which it appeared in the US-Soviet Moscow Declaration.

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In reply, I said I was informed that Ambassador Brunner, Chief of the FRG delegation in Helsinki, had outlined orally to Ambassador Mendelevich a compromise approach on Frontier Inviolability which we understood would meet the Soviet needs.6 I was not in a position to give him the detailed language of the FRG proposal, although I understood that it cited the principle of Frontier Inviolability in the same way it was cited in the Soviet-FRG Treaty. This formulation would be acceptable to us and, I thought, to most of our Allies.

I emphasized that this question of Frontier Inviolability was of primary concern to the FRG, which had in mind the undesirability of making the CSCE document a substitute for a final peace treaty. We were not as deeply concerned with the precise formulation of the frontier issue as the FRG, but we understood the FRG concerns and supported the FRG fully. I thought that, if the Soviets could consult bilaterally with the FRG delegation, they would find that there would be a willingness to compromise on a common approach. However, I stressed again that this could only come about if the Soviets demonstrated flexibility concerning Human Contacts.

Vorontsov seemed pleased with my comments on this issue and said he saw some light ahead.

Other Issues

I referred briefly to Basket II on economic cooperation and to the phrase “military movements” in the mandate on Confidence Building Measures, saying that I did not feel the differences between us on these points would be difficult to overcome. Vorontsov agreed and showed no desire to get into a discussion of details.

Concluding our conversation, I said I would report to my superiors on our discussion and Vorontsov said that he would do likewise. He thought we had made good progress and he hoped we could continue to be in touch if there were further problems. He noted that it was sometimes easier to work these things out on a “quiet, discreet” [Page 440] bilateral basis rather than in a multilateral framework as in Helsinki cautioned against efforts to arrive at detailed agreements on a bilateral basis, particularly in Washington. I thought the contacts in Helsinki between the U.S. and Soviet delegations had been very useful and frank and said that it was important that our representatives have the maximum flexibility to work out formulations on the spot in the light of developments in Helsinki. Vorontsov agreed and said that the Soviet delegation would have flexibility. He emphasized that Ambassador Mendelevich should be our primary contact in Helsinki in the Soviet delegation.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 77, Country Files, Europe, USSR, Moscow Trip, CSCE. Secret; Eyes Only.
  2. A summary of the conversation was sent to USNATO in telegram 76683, April 24, which is attached but not printed. The same day, the Mission replied in telegram 2025: “As authorized, US rep drew on reftel in briefing POLADs. To avoid sparking Allied concerns, US rep did not mention Vorontsov reference in para 1 to collaboration of US and Soviet MPT delegations and his statement at end of para 3 concerning position allegedly taken by US MPT del on non-use of force/frontier inviolability issue and Gromyko’s hope for more ‘active’ US posture. We also felt it better not to mention Asst Secretary Stoessel’s point that US MPT del had in fact encouraged other Allied dels to move more rapidly (para 5) and not to draw direct trade-off between human contacts and frontier inviolability (para 6).” Another copy of the telegram is ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.
  3. See Document 139.
  4. At an April 2 working group meeting on human contacts in Helsinki, an Austrian representative tabled the following proposed “chapeau” for the human contacts mandate: “With the aim of contributing to the strengthening of peace and understanding among the peoples of Europe, without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion, and irrespective of differences in their political, social, and economic systems, the committee/sub-committee shall be charged with examining and summarizing in a final document all opportunities of cooperation aimed at creating better conditions for personal meetings between people and solving humanitarian problems, as well as the creation of improved facilities for the provision of information and deeper cultural relations. In this connection, it shall draw upon not only ready existing forms of cooperation but also new forms that are appropriate to these aims. The committee shall also consider the extent to which already existing institutions can be involved in the achievement of these aims.” (Telegram 882 from Helsinki, April 3; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  5. Telegram 849 from Helsinki, April 2, reported that the Danish representative to the working group on human contacts tabled a draft mandate that included provisions on marriage and family reunification. (Ibid.)
  6. Telegram 770 from Helsinki, March 24, reads in part: “FRG Del here has firm instructions approved at cabinet level, to agree to a compromise with Soviets involving only tenuous linkage between frontier inviolability and nonuse of force. Specifically, it would entail MPT agreement to a principles mandate containing following elements: (a) ‘principles and purposes of UN Charter’—but no other multilateral or bilateral texts—would be cited as source for CSCE declaration on principles; (b) separate listing of frontier inviolability in catalogue of principles—but provided that it appears immediately after principle of nonuse of force. In return for this move toward Soviet position, FRG would also insist upon inclusion of principles of self-determination and human rights in mandate catalogue. FRG has not yet offered this compromise in any MPT gathering, but we have every reason to believe that Ambassador Brunner has privately and clearly signaled it to Soviet Ambassador Mendelevich.” (Ibid.)