165. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon1


  • US Position at the CSCE Ministerial Meeting, July, 1973

In connection with the forthcoming CSCE ministerial meeting to be held at Helsinki beginning on July 3, the attached general briefing paper2 and objectives and issues paper have been prepared for my use. I intend, at Helsinki, to proceed generally along the lines suggested in these papers, which are fully consonant with our approach to CSCE.

While at Helsinki, I will also be opening the Azores base negotiations in conversations with the Portuguese Foreign Minister.

William P. Rogers



I. Objectives

US participation in successive stages of CSCE will:

  • —constitute a further demonstration to our Allies and to other European governments of our determination to remain actively and constructively [Page 499] involved in discussions and negotiations relating to European security and cooperation, on a broadly multilateral as well as on a bilateral basis;
  • —provide an opportunity to seek to lower the barriers to East-West communications and exchanges in various fields, thereby contributing to a more stable European order. At the same time, we wish to avoid exaggerated public expectations that could erode NATO defense efforts and Alliance solidarity.

II. Issues


Security Issues—Principles Guiding Relations Among States

The Warsaw Pact states will regard an agreed CSCE document on principles as a major contribution to European security because it will convey, in their view, a measure of recognition of the territorial and political status quo in Eastern Europe, and thus of the permanent division of Germany. To some extent, Moscow and its Allies will see this text as the functional equivalent of a World War II peace treaty. Most Western participants believe, in contrast, that the major value of such a document would derive from the added inhibitions it might place upon coercive Soviet behavior in Eastern Europe. The FRG holds that a CSCE declaration on this subject should not be seen as confirming the division of Germany.

US Position. The text of a CSCE declaration should make clear that the principles are to be applied unreservedly by all participants in their relations with all others and thus be incompatible, on its face, with the Soviet doctrine of limited sovereignty within the “Socialist commonwealth.” However, the document will enhance only marginally, if at all, the security of Western participants, which will continue to rest on the Atlantic Alliance. It is important, therefore, that Western public opinion avoid the erroneous conclusion that agreement at CSCE on principles of relations will permit the Allies to reduce their defense efforts.

We envisage a declaration of intent, not a legally binding text. The document thus could not be a surrogate World War II peace treaty, and the special rights and responsibilities in Germany of the quadripartite powers would remain unaffected.


Security Issues—Military Aspects

At issue here is whether the conference should have broad latitude to address general military security issues, including MBFR (as some Allies, most neutrals, and Romania will urge), or whether there should be no substantive MBFR/CSCE linkage, with CSCE negotiations limited to confidence-building measures (exchanges of observers at maneuvers; advance notification of maneuvers; and consideration of advance notification of major troop movements).

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US Position. MBFR can be most effectively negotiated by those states whose forces or territory are directly involved, and CSCE agreement on MBFR principles would only complicate the already difficult MBFR negotiations.


Cooperation Issues in the Economic, Scientific/Technological and Environmental Fields

Few contentious issues engaging our interest are likely to arise at the Ministerial under this rubric. The Warsaw Pact states, however, will lay propaganda emphasis on “pan-European” projects, thus implying a marginal North American role in East-West cooperation in Europe.

US Position. We intend to participate actively in East-West cooperation in these fields.


Issues of Human Contacts, Dissemination of Information, and Cultural and Educational Exchanges

Most Western participants believe that some lowering of the barriers in this field is essential to enhanced European security and cooperation. Western European governments, moreover, feel under public opinion and parliamentary pressures to use Soviet interest in détente to achieve progress in this area. The Warsaw Pact states, however, will resist any implied commitment to significant changes and will assert the primacy of the state in all aspects of these matters.

US Position. The conference should find practical ways to reduce some of the obstacles to contacts between people and to the freer flow of information and ideas. Better understanding among peoples will allay suspicions and make a positive contribution to European security. However, we do not seek to undermine existing political and social systems and recognize that progress in this area can only be gradual.


Issue of Follow-up to the Conference

The Warsaw Pact states and some neutrals will stress the need to set up a “consultative committee” to continue multilateral discussions on European security and cooperation and to prepare for further highlevel conferences.

US Position. We have joined our Allies in taking a reserved view of follow-on-machinery, which we believe in any case should not have a political or security role.


Organizational and Procedural Issues


Open or Closed Ministerial Working Sessions

While the inaugural and closing sessions will be open to the media, working sessions will be closed unless Ministers decide otherwise by consensus. While we would prefer closed sessions in the interest of efficiency, a large majority of your colleagues have indicated a preference for open sessions so that their own statements will be fully reported to domestic audiences.

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US Position. We should join the majority in favor of open working sessions.


Opening Date of CSCE Stage II

Warsaw Pact states will likely propose opening stage II in July, as soon as possible after the Ministerial, and working through the summer to permit the third and final stage to convene in the fall. All Western European participants, in contrast, will prefer to begin stage II in September.

US Position. We are flexible on the opening date and are prepared to support the majority viewpoint.


Level of Participation at Stage III of CSCE

Although not a matter for decision at the meeting, Warsaw Pact foreign ministers will undoubtedly urge that stage III be convened at the highest level. Most Western participants would prefer to leave the issue open.

US Position. The level of participation at stage III should be decided during stage II.


The Role of Nonparticipant States

The Maltese Prime Minister Dom Mintoff may insist—as did the Maltese representative during the MPT—that representatives of the Arab states bordering the Mediterranean be allowed to appear before the conference and to state their views—despite the likely opposition of all other participants.

US Position. We do not wish representatives of nonparticipant states to appear personally before the meeting, but would let others take the lead in opposing any such proposal. We could agree, however, to permitting interested states to circulate their views in writing.


Final Communiqué

Most Allies would prefer a short text which does not address CSCE substantive issues. The Soviets, however, may prefer a more pretentious document that tends to prejudge, indirectly at least, some of the substantive issues to be dealt with in succeeding stages. (The drafting mechanisms will likely resemble the communiqué drafting process at NATO Ministerials.)

US Position. Ashort non-substantive communiqué, to which would be attached the MPT report, is suitable to mark the closing of the initial stage of a three-stage conference.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 264, Agency Files, NATO, Vol. XVI. Confidential. On July 4, Kissinger sent this memorandum to the President and informed him that the Ministerial meeting of the CSCE would open at Helsinki on July 3 and was not expected to last more that a week to 10 days. Its main purpose, Kissinger stated, was “to endorse the recommendations of the earlier CSCE preparatory talks for the procedures to be followed in the detailed, stage II, expert-level CSCE negotiations which will follow, as well as to decide on the opening date for the stage II negotiations. The question as to whether the final, stage III phase of CSCE should be at the summit level will not be decided during the Ministerial meeting. At this point, most Western participants prefer to leave the issue open; the US position is that the level of participation for the final phase of the conference should be decided during phase II of the negotiations.” (Ibid.)
  2. The Department of State briefing paper, dated June 1973, is attached but not printed.