233. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Federal Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Guenther Van Well, Political Director
  • Amb. Berndt Von Staden, Ambassador to U.S.A.
  • Mr. Dannenbring, Chief, North American Desk
  • Mr. Von Pachelbel, Foreign Ministry Press Spokesman
  • Mr. Weber, Foreign Ministry
  • Dr. Kinkel, Chef de Cabinet of Minister Genscher
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Ambassador Martin Hillenbrand, Ambassador to FRG
  • Helmut C. Sonnenfeldt, Counselor, Department of State
  • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
  • Amb. Robert Anderson, Special Assistant to the Secretary for Press Relations
  • Peter W. Rodman, NSC Staff
[Page 689]

(Secretary Kissinger and Minister Genscher walked in the garden before the group convened for lunch. After social conversation, the following exchange took place at luncheon between Secretary Kissinger and Mr. Van Well:)

Kissinger: We will not drive Europe to the Summit.

Van Well: It may not be realistic not to go.

Kissinger: Then we should sell the Summit for better texts.

I have the impression from Moscow that the Russians will not agree to the substance of Basket III until they know the nature of the overall program. Because they’re afraid they’ll be continually asked for more. I think if we promise them a summit we can get nine tenths of what we ask for.

Van Well: We should be careful not to break apart, in the West. The problem is if we then see the result and it is bad.

Kissinger: But we can’t afford not to have a conclusion.

You’ll be under no time pressure from us.

Von Staden: We have to see what the time of it is.

Kissinger: What I’m afraid of also is: We’ll start out being very tough and then we’ll end up selling it for nothing. If your view is the dominant one, we should sell the summit for concessions. The worst situation is to have a deadlock and get exhausted and the governments will give in.

Van Well: they’ll certainly come to the third phase with their top people. We’ll be in the embarrassing situation of accepting something we don’t regard as sufficient.

Kissinger: If you ask my frank opinion, the Russians can force a summit. Because if the East Europeans all go there with their heads of government, the West will look ridiculous.

Van Well: Yes.

Sonnenfeldt: Did the Pope say he will go?

Kissinger: He spoke well of the European Security Conference, really.2

Van Well: We’ll speak to the French in this direction. We don’t want to have divergence among the Nine and NATO.

Kissinger: You shouldn’t.

Van Well: In addition, there is lots of drafting to be done.

Kissinger: And CBM’s. I don’t think we should have it until fall.

[Page 690]

Van Well: We need a few weeks for drafting anyway. We can conclude the big setup in Geneva by the end of July.

Sonnenfeldt: That may make it easier for the Russians, to keep the coordination group continuing.

Kissinger: You’ll hear the peculiar argument from the French that it will be difficult to keep the 10 points secret from the Russians once we agree on them. We should tell them the purpose is to present them to the Russians.

Van Well: This is the classic French style. The apparat continues with the old policy until it is reversed by the political level. The first sign of a change of position never comes from the apparat.

Sonnenfeldt: As opposed to our system, where the ideas all come from the apparat.

Kissinger: In our system the apparat never pays attention to the political level either before or after.

We also have Basket II and CBM’s to do.

Let me ask you, Mr. Van Well, since you are so dominating this discussion: Have you read all the documents? Van Well: That will teach me to keep quiet. (Laughter)

Kissinger: Have you, Arthur?

Hartman: Yes! I’ve even redrafted some of them.

Genscher: (stands) I have permission from the Bavarian Government to welcome you here. So I can give you our warm welcome here. I’m hoping for the best for our talks and also for the football game. (All drink a toast.)

Hartman: The Dutch Foreign Minister will be watching!

Kissinger: (rises) On behalf of my colleagues, I would like to thank you for the welcome. And we are all glad that our consultation can be so extensive. (Laughter)

Seriously, in the short period we have known each other, a spirit of friendship has developed between us. Tomorrow I have to maintain our formal neutrality. But here, in the absence of the Dutch Foreign Minister and Prime Minister, I can show my true feeling. (Laughter)

(After lunch, out on the patio, the group sat around the table for coffee.)

Genscher: I would like Van Well to report on the subject we briefly discussed in Duesseldorf, with the wording we drafted.

Van Well: The formula you discussed in Moscow is a great step forward and would be quite acceptable to us. There is only one point—the formula we advanced had one point: “Nothing in the declaration works against this principle,” so that the other principles wouldn’t be seen as lex specialis with respect to the first principle. We would like [Page 691] to maintain the formula in the French draft. All the principles are of equal value and would be read in light of the others. So the first principle isn’t being relativiert3 by the other principles. If that could be maintained—and it’s being discussed already in Geneva and the Soviets are receptive—it would be a great advance. To put “international law” in front and delete “only.”

Kissinger: I’d prefer not to have to go back to the Russians with another change. We would be glad to support what you want in the tenth principle.

Sauvagnargues—he’s going to Moscow—asked me if I can give him the content of what I discussed with Gromyko. May I give him this?

Van Well: Yes.

Genscher: We’ll see him Monday.

Kissinger: So we’ll both give it to him. I’ll answer his cable.4

Genscher: Do you think it is possible to take this line that Van Well suggested?

Kissinger: I discussed this with Van Well at lunch. If we give them the summit we can get what we want. The worst thing is to have a deadlock and then get pushed to it. It’s hard to say a document agreed by 35 nations isn’t worth a summit. Especially if the East Europeans all go.

Sonnenfeldt: I think this formula has a chance. The addition to the tenth principle is another matter.

Van Well: In the reservation we put down on the fourth of April, it was there.

Kissinger: What is this point that Sauvagnargues mentioned?

Van Well: It is not a German point but a tripartite point. He says the principle of sovereignty might be invoked by the GDR against your [Page 692] right of access to Berlin. So far our idea is that it is not a legal document but a declaration of principles. But the Soviets will certainly use it as an “important document.” So what we need is in Article 10–2: “This does not affect existing documents signed by participating states or states concerned by them.” This means the Quadripartite Agreement and also us, because we’re “concerned.”

Kissinger: (to Sonnenfeldt and Hartman:) Do we have any problem with this?

Sonnenfeldt: It is all right with us.

Genscher: If we can get this other point, and this way preserve an agreed position, we can live with it. It is not very pleasant for us for domestic reasons, but we can live with it.

Kissinger: Is it better to have it or not to have it?

Genscher: I think it is better to have it, frankly. Better to have it.

Since we are speaking about these rights and responsibilities, we have a question about the Moscow communiqué portion about the Quadripartite Treaty. At the end of the communiqué, there is a statement about “strict and consistent …

Sonnenfeldt: … implementation.”5

Genscher: In the GDR text they say it means “fulfillment.” People wonder why you didn’t use the wording of “strict application and observance.”

Kissinger: There was no reason. Absolutely no reason. It was wording that was not offensive to us.

Genscher: I told the new French Ambassador that “strict” was what the Russians wanted and “fulfillment” was what we wanted, to fill it in.

Sonnenfeldt: Absolutely.

Kissinger: Absolutely. It was not a political decision. We didn’t even discuss it.

Genscher: We didn’t make a fuss. We noticed it was referred to as the “Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin.”6 (?) It used to be West Berlin.

Kissinger: The communiqué should have been signed by Sonnenfeldt and Korniyenko.

[Page 693]

Van Well: We wanted “full application” meaning “maintenance and development of ties.” The German press hasn’t taken it up.

Kissinger: If the German press does take it up, it would help if you take our position. We don’t need another story about European disappointment with the communiqué. All the people who will be most isolationist are now on this.

There is no significance to it. We would not accept any such interpretation.

Genscher: We will take the opportunity to invite the American correspondents in Bonn on background to state our position.

Kissinger: That’s the best. To us, the most significant thing in Moscow was that they didn’t press us to take positions contrary to you. Compared to last year.

Sonnenfeldt: Could you avoid saying that you brought us around to your point of view, and say instead there was never any difference of view?

Genscher: Yes.

Sonnenfeldt: The American press will immediately say we went out ahead of the Europeans and the Europeans pulled us back. They are already saying this about CSCE.

Van Well: This came out of Ottawa. They said this before.

Kissinger: Our press is looking for things to attack the President with. We are going to have a merry month.

Genscher: We have no more on CSCE.

Van Well: We will talk further Monday and Tuesday.7

Kissinger: We are for that.

Van Well: Then the political discussion on Wednesday, and we would very much like to have a discussion in NATO. We would like to have unanimity in NATO.

Kissinger: That is fine.

Van Well: The question is who should sound out the Soviets once we have the 10 points.

Kissinger: We can decide on that. We can do it or we can designate someone. We have no fixed idea. What is your idea? If the French want to do it, we have no objection.

Hartman: A small group of countries met in Geneva; they might be a good group to do it.

Kissinger: We haven’t thought about who should do it. We don’t want, in order to bring the French back, to lean over backward so they [Page 694] are rewarded for a year of impossible behavior. Just because they are doing what all the others were doing normally.

Van Well: It might be a good occasion to let Sauvagnargues do it.

Kissinger: He goes next week (to Moscow).

Van Well: Too quick.

Kissinger: I don’t mind him presenting peaceful change. I presented it as our idea, not endorsed by the allied position.

Van Well: You could do it with Dobrynin.

Kissinger: I will do it on Wednesday. We are dropping “only.”

Van Well: On CBM’s, there is a question as to whether we should agree only to the so-called “border zones.”

Kissinger: I think the Soviets will agree to some distance beyond the borders, but not 900 kilometers.

Van Well: They already agreed to 100 kilometers. It is impractical that each country have border zones. It is only a Soviet problem; all other countries accepted the whole country.

Genscher: Practically the result is the same, if you include wide border areas. If you say 200 kilometers, it would mean practically all of France, or us, or Austria. So I feel this idea circulated by the Russians, namely a coastal strip to be included—but how could we get Italy or us?

Kissinger: If they are accepting the whole country, why be so complicated? I think they might agree to 200, 250.

Van Well: They have already talked about 300.

Kissinger: Then we have to agree on the size of the unit.

Van Well: These are not central points with us.

Genscher: This should be on a voluntary basis. Should it include military districts?

Kissinger: You would prefer having 200–300 kilometers in the Soviet Union and all of the territory of the rest of the European states?

Van Well: Yes.

Kissinger: I think it is no problem. I think they will accept that.

How should we do it? Geneva?

Van Well: It should be according to the rules of the Geneva group.

Kissinger: All right. Give your delegation your instructions. (to Hartman:) Make sure Sherer knows of this conversation.

Van Well: Ask for 500; otherwise we will get 200 if you ask for 300.

Genscher: You think 300 is possible?

Kissinger: Let’s stick to 500 and agree we will settle for 300. And we will not do less than 300.

Van Well: There is another point. All these things are interconnected. Basket III depends very much on the Preamble. We agree that [Page 695] the Finnish draft is very good with respect to the general declaration of principles. The Soviets accept the general declaration of principles only if there is reference to the “political, economic, and cultural foundation of states” and “respect for laws and regulations.”

Kissinger: I don’t believe that; I think they will drop it out. That is my instinct. Every time I spoke with Gromyko I heard him say he needs something on laws and regulations; I never heard him insist on political institutions.

Hartman: They don’t like mini-preambles but I don’t think we do either.

Van Well: The problem now is in Basket I, not in Basket III. If we could drop “each State respects the political order of the others.”

Kissinger: I agree.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 5, Germany, 1974. Secret. Drafted by Rodman. The meeting took place at Gut Vogelsang in Miesbach, Bavaria.
  2. A memorandum of Kissinger’s conversation with Pope Paul VI on July 5 is in National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P860119–0589.
  3. “Revitalized” in English.
  4. The cable containing Sauvagnargues’ request has not been found. Telegram Secto 203/1037 from Munich to Paris, July 6, contained Kissinger’s reply: “You may tell Foreign Minister [Sauvagnargues] that Secretary has informed Genscher of his discussion in Moscow on CSCE ‘peaceful change’ as follows: —Secretary told Soviets that Germans still preferred ‘peaceful change’ language to be attached to ‘inviolability’ principle. If Soviets objected to that, then ‘peaceful change’ language itself would have to be altered to make it appropriate for use in another principle, for example, sovereignty. —Brezhnev said but this question already agreed. But language in sovereignty principle as accepted in Geneva. —After Secretary said again language could be changed, they said how. Secretary suggested ‘in accordance with international law, the participating states consider that their frontiers can be changed through peaceful means and by agreement.’ Soviets didn’t say ‘no’ but didn’t raise again either. Secretary agreed with Genscher to mention it again to Dobrynin in Washington.” The account continued: “At meeting today, Genscher confirmed language quoted in para 1 and said he would also discuss it with French Foreign Minister on Monday.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)
  5. The joint U.S.-Soviet communiqué issued at the conclusion of President Nixon’s visit to Moscow on July 3 included a passage on Berlin: “Both Sides also stressed that the Quadripartite Agreement of September 3, 1971, must continue to play a key role in ensuring stability and détente in Europe. The US and USSR consider that the strict and consistent implementation of this Agreement by all parties concerned is an essential condition for the maintenance and strengthening of mutual confidence and stability in the center of Europe.” (Department of State Bulletin, July 29, 1974, p. 188)
  6. It is unclear to which passage of the U.S.-Soviet communiqué Genscher is referring; none of the passages uses the phrase “Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin.”
  7. July 8 and 9.