218. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

3986. Eyes only for Sonnenfeldt and Hartman from Sherer. Dept pass Moscow eyes only for Ambassador Stoessel. Sub:CSCE: Basket III preamble. Ref: State 1345432 and previous.

[Page 657]
Subsequent to conversation reported Geneva 3950,3 we have had three long and detailed discussions with Soviets concerning Basket III preamble operation, culminating in Saturday morning meeting with Kovalev, Dubinin and Mendelevich. Soviets are pressing hard for simultaneous registration of Finnish language for principle of nonintervention and Basket III preamble by Wednesday,4 which we think may be overly ambitious, but which we will try our best to help along.
We informed Soviets of our impression that Western group was drifting toward an attitude of treating this whole issue as a key conference item which should not be settled until much later, when Soviets have shown what they are willing to concede in terms of Basket III specifics. We said that if they hope to conclude this operation quickly, some dramatic breakthrough was required which would improve conference atmosphere and make Western and neutral delegations more receptive to the Finnish solution.
The Soviets recognize the need for something dramatic and are apparently prepared to make an effort to register the text on access to printed information by Tuesday in order to provide this element. But they insist that the two parts of the Finnish solution must be approved simultaneously, and of course this makes the whole project much more difficult. We suggested a step-by-step operation: (1) register text on access to printed information; (2) register fourth Finnish para of Basket III preamble; (3) register Finnish language on legislative and regulatory systems in principle of sovereign equality. Soviets said they could not accept this approach without a guarantee that the language in the principles would be accepted. We suggested they accept Finnish para 4 for Basket III preamble with specific proviso that this was on condition that satisfactory language would be agreed in the principles. They refused and said they had fulfilled their part of the bargain by getting this language introduced by the Finns; now it was up to us to fulfill our part of the bargain by getting it approved. They were willing to be helpful in this, but it was basically a US problem and if it was necessary, perhaps an effort in capitals was required.
We indicated that real problem was not eventual satisfactory solution to this issue, but trying to achieve it all simultaneously, in a very short time, in a conference where atmosphere has been getting more and more negative ever since the Easter break, primarily because of Soviet resistance to progress on Basket III specifics. We were willing to try whatever looked possible, but in the circumstances we thought this would be most difficult to accomplish by Wednesday.

At this point Kovalev brought out the text of a new Finnish proposal which he said had been conveyed to Soviets and to the FRG Basket I representative last night. Text of Finnish proposal is as follows.

Components of a “deal” to be made between the heads of delegations:

the fourth sentence of the Finnish proposal to be redrafted as follows: Therefore each of them will not intervene against the political, economic and cultural elements of other participating states and will respect the right to determine their laws and regulations.
The above mentioned sentence to be located under the first principle (sovereign equality).
The fourth paragraph of the Finnish proposal in the preamble of item III to be accepted.
Assurance by all parties that no safeguard clauses nor any reference to the principles or to laws and regulations will be included in the so-called mini-preambles of the Basket III.

We have no indication yet of FRG or Nine opinion of above proposal.

Kovalev asked for our views on this, and we told him that it looked like a useful contribution. Language of para (1) would have to be altered to fit context of sovereign equality principle, but otherwise it looked promising. We cautioned him however, that even with this Finnish proposal it would be difficult to complete this whole operation by Wednesday. We said that phrase “laws and regulations” might be more acceptable to some Western delegations than “legislative and regulatory systems” and suggested that Soviets consider this language as a possible fallback position, in case legislative and regulatory systems proved totally unacceptable. Soviets said they would convey this suggestion to Moscow, and would reflect on this possibility. With regard to the paper as a whole, they planned to meet with Finns this evening to discuss it more fully. Main problem they foresaw was that of finding a mechanism, such as an informal meeting of delegation heads, at which such a package deal could be agreed, in order to have the whole thing approved at once. They said they would be back in touch with us, and we arranged a further meeting for Sunday, June 23.
As for Basket III specifics, Soviets still realized need to improve conference atmosphere, and would try to register the text on access to printed information by Tuesday of next week. To assist in this process, we arranged a meeting between US and Soviet Basket III reps for Saturday afternoon. We plan to advise Soviets on what may be acceptable so Soviets can put forward a workable text on Monday.
FYI : Soviets here appear to be unaware that need for progress on Basket III specifics was ever mentioned to them when original agreement on this problem was reached, as indicated in para 1 of State [Page 659] 121749.5 This has made our dealings with them considerably more difficult, since they take the view that getting the Finnish solution accepted is our sole responsibility. End FYI.
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 708, Country Files, Europe, Switzerland, Vol. III. Secret; Immediate;Nodis.
  2. Document 217.
  3. Document 216.
  4. June 26.
  5. Document 210.