173. Briefing Memorandum From the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Springsteen) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

CSCE: Developments in Geneva Stage II

Discussions since September 18

Discussions to date have overcome initial procedural disagreements, but have not yet addressed substantive issues in detail. Soviet nervousness about the freer movement issue has not been fully reflected in Geneva, where the atmosphere is amicable. The US and Soviet delegates (Vest and Kovalev) met September 21 for a full and friendly exchange of views, and agreed to stay in close touch.2

Procedural Issues

The Soviets wanted an immediate start on drafting final texts, but the EC countries preferred to begin with a detailed substantive discussion. The US and some neutral delegations, in corridor conversations, [Page 519] urged compromise, and a solution was reached September 25, involving initial point-by-point discussion, to be followed by drafting after substantive issues have been aired.

Humanitarian Issues

In their general statements, Warsaw Pact delegations have stiffened their position somewhat on freer movement questions, in the wake of growing Western criticism of Moscow’s campaign against intellectual dissidents and Brezhnev’s Sofia speech of September 19.3 They emphasized their willingness to make progress, but only if discussions were conducted on the basis of respect for the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs—a line stressed repeatedly in recent Soviet press commentaries, by Kovalev in his meeting with Vest, and by the Czech Ambassador in a call on me earlier this week.4

Security Issues

Principles of Relations between States. While the talks have not yet dealt with specifics, we expect—as at Helsinki—some difficulties between the Soviets, who will wish to proclaim the inviolability of frontiers as a separate principle of relations, and the FRG, which will insist on at least indirect linkage of frontier inviolability with non-use of force.

Military Security Aspects. All NATO allies except the US support including advance notification of movements and advocate joint study of maneuvers, observers and movements before attempting to draw up specific proposals. The Soviets, however, have firmly reiterated their minimalist position on this issue, signalling their resistance to inclusion of prior notification of military movements (as distinct from maneuvers) among agreed CSCE confidence-building measures. The Soviet spokesman has pointed out that the mandate approved at Helsinki called on the committees to “submit” proposals on maneuvers and exchange of observers and to “study” movements.

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Other Issues

There has been no significant discussion of the substance of other agenda items: economic cooperation and conference follow-on. The question of presentation of views by non-European Mediterranean states—i.e., Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria and Israel—has been resolved in a satisfactory fashion.5

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 71, Gromyko, 1973. Secret. Drafted by Floyd and Frowick.
  2. Telegram 5044 from Geneva, September 24, which contains an account of the meeting, is ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.
  3. In his speech, Brezhnev said: “The second stage of the conference on European security and cooperation has now started in Geneva…. The purpose of the work ahead, as we see it, is to prepare, without unnecessary delay, the drafts of documents for the final stage of the conference, which, in our view, it would be quite possible and desirable to hold this year…. We and our allies are firmly convinced that there are opportunities for a radical and stable improvement in the international climate. We believe that a new system of international relations can and must be built by honest and consistent observance of the principles of sovereignty and noninterference in internal affairs, and by unswerving implementation of signed treaties and agreements without playing games or engaging in ambiguous maneuvers.” (New York Times, September 20, 1973, p. 11)
  4. No record of this meeting has been found.
  5. Telegram 4727 from Geneva, September 4, reported: “CSCE Coordinating Committee September 3 adopted compromise formula for receiving contributions by nonparticipating Mediterranean states. Formula accepts in principle oral presentation of written contributions by Algeria and Tunisia, and states that the same arrangements will be applied equally to any other interested Mediterranean country.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.)