252. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Sonnenfeldt) to Secretary of State Kissinger1

Mr. Secretary:

I asked Art Hartman to tell the Germans that they should pursue this issue, which is principally of concern to them, directly with the Soviets. Art has done this. I think it is pointless for us to act as middlemen.

If you agree, I will also tell Vorontsov that as far as you are concerned this is chiefly a matter between the FRG and the USSR and that we will review it only after we have indication that Bonn and Moscow are able to come to terms on it.

[Page 737]

The confusion on the texts is really incomprehensible since Gromyko is steeped in the subject and would hardly hand personally to Genscher a text with a typographical error going directly to the heart of the dispute. All the more reason for us to stay clear of this whole issue for a while.

Approve line to Vorontsov2




Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Hartman) to Secretary of State Kissinger 3

CSCE: Soviet “Peaceful Changes” Formulation

Soviet Minister-Counselor Vorontsov Friday evening brought me the Russian-language text of the “new formulation” on peaceful change. He explained that in order to cut down confusion and misunderstanding, Gromyko had decided henceforth to provide only Russian texts on this question. Gromyko gave the text to Genscher yesterday, and asked that Vorontsov bring in the text to be given to you.

One further round of confusion occurred when we discovered that the Russian text given us was not identical to the text given Genscher.

As given to us, the translated formulation reads:

The participating states consider that their frontiers can change only in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement.

As given to the Germans, it reads:

The participating states consider that their frontiers can be changed in accordance with international law only by peaceful means and by agreement.

[Page 738]

Thus in the formulation given us, “only” has been moved to apply to “in accordance with international law” as well as to “by peaceful means and by agreement.”

In addition, there is a distinction between “can change” (using a reflexive verb) and “can be changed” (using a participle).

The confusion between the two versions has now been cleared up. Vorontsov checked with the Gromyko delegation in New York and confirmed that the version given us is the correct one. The wrong text was given to Genscher due to a “typing error” (which will be “investigated”). Vorontsov asked if we could inform the Germans now, which we are doing.4 He said his side would make its apologies to the Germans later.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Counselor, Entry 5339, Box 3, HS Chron, Official. Confidential.
  2. Kissinger initialed his approval. Sonnenfeldt spoke with Vorontsov on September 30 and informed him accordingly. Vorontsov replied, “that is fair enough,” and said he would cable the U.S. stance to Moscow. (Memorandum for the record, September 30; ibid.)
  3. Drafted by the Deputy Director for Soviet Union Affairs Mark J. Garrison and cleared by Streator. Sent through Sonnenfeldt.
  4. Hartman highlighted this sentence and wrote in the margin: “We have also told the Germans that they should pursue this with the Soviets.”