212. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Foreign Minister of Federal Republic of Germany
  • Mr. Gunther Van Well, Political Director
  • Mr. Dannenbring, Chief, North American Desk
  • Mr. Kinkel, Personal Assistant to the Foreign Minister
  • Miss Siebourg (Interpreter)
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador Martin Hillenbrand
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

Genscher: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] On the Geneva Conference [CSCE].

Kissinger: Yes.

Genscher: First, there is one special problem: the declaration on the Mediterranean.2

Kissinger: Our idea is not to have one Mediterranean declaration but to have it split up in its various elements.3 If that is done, we would not be so worried about substance.

[Page 643]

Genscher: We don’t really differ with you. It would be less than a special declaration; it would be an intention to extend the field of the Continent geographically. While flying over I defined it this way: We don’t want to extend the European house but to make a declaration out of our window. So it is not an institutionalization.

There is a certain time pressure. We must inform some of our partners very soon. Within the next 24–48 hours.

Kissinger: I told the Foreign Minister I will talk with my colleagues tonight and let him know tomorrow.

Van Well: If the declaration of the Nine is dead, that means there will be more declarations—with Spain, with Malta, etc.

Kissinger: Will they be worse? What if we oppose them?

Van Well: There will be some in the Nine who will want them.

Kissinger: But what if the Nine want them and we oppose?

Van Well: It will be a messy situation.

Kissinger: Yes.

Van Well: Israel wants it.

Kissinger: Our objection has nothing to do with Israel.

We will let you know in the course of tomorrow. In the course of tomorrow.

Genscher: The other matter; I suppose you know yesterday’s declaration.

Kissinger: Is it public?

Genscher: Yes. [Reads] “The Foreign Ministers of the Nine talked about CSCE; they confirmed their intention of following the policy of détente. … It is not the principle of peaceful relations that is important, but cooperation in public, economic, and measures for human contact. That is why the meetings of the Conference are being supported by a large measure of public opinion.

“Ministers recall the particular endeavors which the Nine have made to meet the concerns of other participant states, in particular, where the declaration of principles is concerned. However, they wish to explain their disillusion at the lack of progress achieved at Geneva, in particular on measures so important as human contacts, the flow of information, admittance to cultural achievements, as well as confidence-building [Page 644] measures in the field of security. They regret also that in certain parts of the declaration of principles there is not yet agreement.

“Ministers reaffirm their determination to continue their efforts to contribute constructively to the work of the conference. They hope their continuing will for conciliation and progress will be shared by all and that the Geneva talks, in all areas covered by the Helsinki mandate, will achieve the material results that alone will set the stage for the final phase.”

Not mentioned in this declaration is the important question of peaceful changes of frontiers. This is a point which, as everyone understands—we don’t insist on this—but there was full agreement on this. The French side sees this very much from the angle of the rights of the four powers. It is only natural we should attach a high price to the idea that this should be clarified. In the field of human contacts.

Kissinger: Should we bring this to a conclusion? Or should we let it go along?

Genscher: As said here and as we believe, we should continue to work, but policies should not be dictated by time pressure.

Kissinger: I agree.

Genscher: First, there shouldn’t be any negative result. If we had a formula that everything was put to question, it would be a negative aspect.

Kissinger: We have not yet seen your proposal on peaceful change.

Van Well: Now the Nine have a position on it. A fortnight ago we submitted it to NATO.4 Our point was that in making this position clear.

Kissinger: But you have never given us a text.

Hillenbrand: Not in the Bonn Group.

Van Well: We have been in touch on this—the Nine with the 15. Now there is a discussion just opened on the Four,5 on the question of [Page 645] quadripartite rights, to make clear that the new discussion doesn’t qualify the quadripartite rights. It is being prepared now for Ottawa.

Kissinger: In principle we are in favor of what you are trying to do. We will discuss this at Ottawa.

Genscher: We will discuss.

Kissinger: It would help us. In principle we have no difficulties.

Genscher: We also see consequences about European Union if we don’t adopt this policy of peaceful change. Next we have fields of human contacts.

Kissinger: We need a Talmudic student to know what is going on. We have been studying the Finnish proposal these last weeks. In principle it looks like it may be possible. Referring back to the preamble. …

Van Well: There is the question of family reunions.

Kissinger: We shouldn’t discuss until. … In the Finnish ideas, in the general preamble there is some reference to human contacts in the preamble.

I think we have to discuss the preamble. Whatever the Soviets want—before going on to substance.

We don’t notice any great progress on the substance in the cause of Basket III.

Van Well: Complete stagnation.

Genscher: This is why we talked about deception in this field.

[A message is brought in for General Scowcroft.]

Kissinger: I told the Foreign Minister about my press conference.6

Genscher: I heard it with great interest.

Kissinger: My staff is encouraged because they think they see a terminal point to their suffering!

My problem with the European Security Conference is, if it had never been invented, my life wouldn’t be unfulfilled. Second, the substance bores me to death. I have studied none of it. If Gromyko would get off my back complaining every two weeks about the lack of American cooperation—which is true.

Why don’t we use the Finnish proposal as a bridge to a common position on substance?

Van Well: The problem is the Soviets of course want to emphasize non-intervention. In the declaration of principles we have the principle of human rights, the principle of self-determination, the principle [Page 646] of cooperation—which is detailed. If they only want to pick up in Basket III the principle of non-intervention, that gives that principle a particular role.

Kissinger: But the Finnish proposal only refers to the preamble, not to that principle.

Van Well: They refer to that principle.

Kissinger: The Preambular language of Basket III refers to all the principles of Basket I. In Basket I there is a reference to non-intervention.

Van Well: Yes.

Kissinger: But it doesn’t single out that principle.

Genscher: What is the Soviet view?

Kissinger: I have no way of knowing.

Genscher: That is the point.

Kissinger: If we could settle this we could get to the substance of Basket III. There are some questions we have about the language in the Finnish proposal.

We have no information on the Soviet view. Do you have any information?

Van Well: No, but we assume the Finns would not stick their necks out without. …

Kissinger: That is our instinct. But I have given instructions to our Ambassador to be generally favorable to the Finnish proposal provided our NATO allies don’t disagree.7

Van Well: That is very helpful. We will give instructions tomorrow.

Genscher: I have practically finished what I have been told to tell you.

Kissinger: Let me ask. We are going to Moscow. We will be harassed about the level at which the conference should end.

I wrote you a letter once—or to your predecessor—about the level.8 There are two problems. I know everyone’s formal position is that the level depends on the substance.

Genscher: Yes.

Kissinger: But we know what the substance is. Given the substance, what is the Federal Republic’s view on the level?

Genscher: The Chancellor discussed this with the Soviet Ambassador and said we don’t exclude the highest level, but it depends on the conclusion.

[Page 647]

Kissinger: But we pretty well know what the conclusion is. We have no interest—we just don’t want the allies to take different views. I know Brandt told us once that he wanted to do it at the summit. I don’t know Schmidt’s view.

Genscher: We don’t want to push, but I said at the press conference that the quality is more important than the time pressure. But at this stage, I think it would go too far to meet the points of the other side and that it would exclude all interests of the other side in the direction of new movement.

Kissinger: But it keeps going in circles. Including what we see, what substance do we want?

Van Well: Scheel wrote you about four concrete points,9 and we have told the Russians those and the Nine agreed with our four points. The question is whether we get to the last phase. Progress so far is not satisfactory.

Kissinger: We didn’t want a conference in the first place, so we won’t spend sleepless nights over it.

But do we want to sell a summit in return for Soviet concessions? Or do we not want a summit? We have to be clear. With Brandt, we had the feeling he wanted one and therefore we had the feeling it probably would be held.

Van Well: It is spelled out in the letter. We were prepared to go to the summit if there is satisfaction on the four points.

Kissinger: All right. Now I understand. Can you sum up what they mean concretely?

Van Well: The first is the wording and placement of peaceful change. The Soviets have bagged the principle of inviolability of frontiers. Second is the equal quality of all principles. They are moving on that. They also agreed in principle on peaceful change. The third point is confidence-building measures. We want to get out of this limit to Central Europe. All participants should take part. The fourth is some concrete points in Basket III; family reunions, family contacts, and marriages.

Kissinger: So confidence-building measures is the hard one.

Van Well: Yes.

Kissinger: Basket III may become unlocked if the Finnish proposal works. And peaceful change we will see, on the basis of the Bonn Group.

[Omitted here is discussion of matters other than the European security conference or MBFR.]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1029, MemCons—HAK & Presidential. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Rodman. The conversation took place in Grand Hotel Axelmannstein in Bad Reichenhall, Bavaria. The brackets, with the exception of those indicating omission of unrelated material, are in the original.
  2. Telegram 1725 from Geneva, March 15, reported: “At NATO delegation heads’ caucus March 14, Italian rep said EC-Nine had taken ‘political decision’ to support Italian idea of a ‘general declaration’ on the Mediterranean, to be included in final CSCE document. Italian rep said such a declaration would be best way to handle Mediterranean in final document, since it would demonstrate importance to Europe of Mediterranean area and give satisfaction to non-participating Mediterranean states which have made contributions to CSCE. Declaration would be unilateral and would not be negotiated with nonparticipating states. It could be added as separate part of final document at end of section on agenda item I (security).” (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files.)
  3. Telegram 2919 from Geneva, May 10, reported: “As foreseen reftel, we circulated to interested NATO delegations May 9 a paper giving ‘illustrative examples’ of how references to the Mediterranean could be introduced under existing CSCE agenda items. We explained that we had drawn language from existing documents such as Helsinki recommendations and Dutch draft framework paper, but that our suggestions were purely illustrative, and that we were not necessarily wedded to the language. We stressed that we hoped some solution could be found along these lines, since we remained firmly opposed to the idea of a separate CSCE declaration on the Mediterranean. Our illustrative paper, coupled with our arguments and firm resistance to a separate declaration, seems to have swayed several interested NATO delegations, and we drew support from Turkey, Greece and Portugal. Netherlands, Belgium and UK urged compromise along lines we had suggested, and only French and Italians defended separate declaration.” (Ibid.)
  4. On May 28, the EC Political Committee approved a report on CSCE. According to telegram 3085 from USNATO, the EC-Nine’s report reads in part: “The German delegation has illustrated the possible linkage of the text on peaceful change of frontiers to the first principle [i.e., inviolability of frontiers] in case a considerably modified and positive formula were inserted in this new context. As a temporary measure, it proposed the following text, which could be inserted after the 27 lines of the text already registered: ‘The sovereignty of the participating states includes, in accordance with international law, the right to modify their frontiers through peaceful means and by agreement and nothing in the present declaration will affect this right.’ However, the linkage of peaceful change to the first principle is not acceptable to all the delegations among the Nine. Moreover, the [EC-Nine’s CSCE] subcommittee is of the opinion that there are few chances of obtaining the formula mentioned above.” (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 9153 from Bonn, June 7, which reported on the discussions Bonn in on quadripartite rights in Germany in the context of CSCE, is ibid.
  6. For the text of Secretary Kissinger’s news conference on June 6, see Department of State Bulletin, June 24, 1974, pp. 700–709.
  7. See Document 210.
  8. See footnote 4, Document 206.
  9. Not found.