249. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary’s Meeting with FRG Foreign Minister Genscher


  • German
    • Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher
    • Mr. Guenther Van Well, Political Director, FRG Foreign Ministry Ambassador to US Berndt Von Staden
    • Guenther Verheugen, Counselor (Special Assistant to Foreign Minister)
    • Otto Von Der Gablentz, Counselor (European Policy Questions)
  • American
    • The Secretary
    • Under Secretary Joseph Sisco
    • Mr. Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
    • Assistant Secretary Arthur A. Hartman
    • Mr. Scott George, EUR/CE Director (Notetaker)

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

[Page 731]

Genscher: [Omitted here are unrelated comments.] What did Gromyko say when you saw him?2

The Secretary: A number of things. One was that you, or the German side in Bonn, had told him that the CSCE peaceful change language was a US draft and that you did not care much about it one way or another.

Genscher: That really tops everything. This is not at all what was said.

The Secretary: It seemed inconceivable to me, knowing your views and knowing that this is a domestic issue in the Federal Republic.

Van Well: The record is quite clear. This was an EC–9 formulation which was put forward by the US.

The Secretary: I questioned Gromyko. He told me the Germans said this is absolutely US language; we are not too much interested in it. He also said to me, and to the President, that the Soviets and FRG have more or less agreed on CSCE, Basket III is no longer a problem, and CSCE can probably conclude with a Summit meeting.

Genscher: This is not at all the case.

Van Well: Gromyko did say that the only important thing to us Soviets is non-intervention. The Foreign Minister said that we never intended to use Basket III as a means of intervention. That is all that was said on this subject. Perhaps Gromyko misunderstood this in some way.

The Secretary: Gromyko was not interested in talking specifics to us. He said that everything is settled on Basket III, or at least he left that very strong impression. Since we had heard nothing from you indicating any change in your position since June or July, we could not understand what Gromyko meant. But he certainly left us with the impression that everything had been settled with you in Bonn. Was this subject raised at the SchmidtGromyko meeting?3

Genscher: It was only discussed marginally at the meeting.

The Secretary: Gromyko brought up the question of equal application of the various principles instead of equal validity of principles. We said that since this was a new formulation we wanted to study it. The only language formulation we discussed was the peaceful change formulation which Gromyko rejected because of the implication that international law not only permits peaceful change but requires it. [Page 732] Other than discussing this language he mentioned only the question of CBM observers, on which I believe he accurately stated your position, and indicated that Basket III is all settled.

Genscher: In our discussion with Gromyko he said that some proposals must be more important than others. But he said there is no use to talk about which is dominant. All should be fully respected and should constitute a whole.

The Secretary: That he didn’t tell us. I don’t mind your telling him exactly what we are telling you. We said that we would have to talk with you before talking with him further.

Genscher: I told him that our position is that there should be no dominant or less dominant, no major or minor principles. I want to reiterate very strongly, Mr. Secretary, that we have not changed our position from what it was at Ottawa or Meisbach (sic).4

The Secretary: Let’s not worry about this, but if you want to change back to your original view on peaceful change this will be OK with us.

Genscher: You and I know that the Soviet Union is really interested in only one principle. I made it very clear to Gromyko that we believe all of them should have equal value.

The Secretary: We can stick to the original text if it is put in the inviolability section or we can put the new one in the sovereignty section. I told Gromyko we would stick with the FRG on this question.

Hartman: Let’s not kid ourselves. The new formulation does change the meaning somewhat.

The Secretary: Yes, the implication is that international law requires peaceful change of frontiers. I didn’t even suggest putting your language in the inviolability section because they have already rejected this. Gromyko talked to me about substance saying that since the FRG didn’t care we might as well settle the matter between us.

Van Well: Gromyko went back to our Moscow negotiations and said that borders can be changed peacefully. Our Foreign Minister said that we are not talking about minor border adjustments but the possibility of total elimination of borders and the creation of new entities, such as the European Union. Incidentally, I think we are smart to have our own interpreter for these meetings because we have our own record to point to and don’t have to depend on what they said, according to their interpreter.

The Secretary: I would not want to have talks with them when their records are the only ones.

[Page 733]

Genscher: Can you give me any idea of what the President would like to talk about when I meet with him?5

The Secretary: This is entirely up to you but one possibility would be to give your views about Bonn–Washington ties, also the energy meeting, perhaps force reductions. But the President will not be intimately familiar with CSCE.

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

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, P820097–2023. Secret; Nodis; Sensitive. Drafted by George. The meeting took place in the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Towers.
  2. See Documents 247 and 248.
  3. Gromyko visited Bonn on September 16. At a news conference following a meeting with Gromyko, Schmidt said that he anticipated that the European security conference would be completed by the end of the year and that he would support a summit meeting for the final stage of the CSCE. (Craig R. Whitney, “West German Chief for Summit Meeting at European Parley,” New York Times, September 17, 1974, p. 4)
  4. As in the original. Regarding the meeting in Miesbach, see Document 233.
  5. Genscher met with President Ford and Kissinger in the Oval Office on September 26 from 5:35 to 6:05 p.m. No record of the conversation has been found.