255. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary’s Meeting with the Romanian Foreign Minister: Cyprus, CSCE, and the Middle East


  • Romania
    • George Macovescu, Foreign Minister
    • Corneliu Bogdan, Romanian Ambassador to the US
    • Ion Datcu, Romanian Ambassador to the UN
    • Nicolae Mateescu, Aide to the Foreign Minister (Note Taker)
  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
    • A. Denis Clift, NSC
    • Nicholas G. Andrews, Director, EUR/EE (Note Taker)

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

Macovescu: [Omitted here is an unrelated comment.] I would like to come back to another subject, European security. We think the United States must play their own role in international affairs.

Kissinger: Separate from whom? Concretely, what role should we play in European security?

Macovescu: For a long time we have been involved in this problem. For a long time, I have the impression about American policy that the Department of State is not interested in the security conference in Europe. For what reason?

Kissinger: I can tell you why. We are not uninterested in a European security conference even if we see it as nothing spectacular. I can understand your interest in it. You want to be able to avoid great power pressures on your country. If I were the Romanian Foreign Minister, I would pursue the same policies.

Macovescu: At the same time, the United States should be interested in this matter. There is movement in Europe at this time, things are happening. The United States is absent.

Kissinger: We are present.

Macovescu: We would like to see you more active. We would like to see more specific movement than is going on now. Two years ago I was surprised—you were not here then as chief of this department—here in the Department they didn’t know exactly the problems of security.

Kissinger: Do they know now?

Sonnenfeldt: The State Department was more favorable to European security than the National Security Council staff. Your Ambassador can get out his dispatches.

Bogdan: It is more complex than that.

Kissinger: There are two separate problems. One is European security. The other is what contribution the conference will make to European security.

Macovescu: Yes, but taking into consideration the role the United States is playing in the world, I would like to see a bigger role.

Kissinger: We are not against it. But what can we concretely do to foster …

[Page 743]

Macovescu: You must pay attention to what is going on.

Kissinger: I am paying attention although the effort is taxing my limited brain power to follow everything that is going on in Geneva. I learn a position and then our European friends produce variations on it and I have to learn it all over again. We are actively involved and we are prepared to do our part. But we are not prepared to jeopardize the interests of our allies to get the conference concluded. Our allies, whose bureaucracy constantly grows, come up with complicated problems that no one can understand. We are not willing to spend much capital with our allies to force them to a conclusion.

Macovescu: No. I know the Third Committee problems on human contacts. I know there are some reasonable demands and some not so desirable. Security should not deal with the question of a movie theatre in Moscow. You know you have an American library in Bucharest and we have a Romanian library in New York. I understand that our Soviet friends are not interested in this today, but perhaps they will be tomorrow.

Kissinger: I know the Basket 3 problem. A distinctive feature of the Communist system is that it specializes in the ability to hold power. The elite which brought it to power will not lose it without noticing it. Therefore, while we are for the free exchange of peoples, it will not make any difference to communist political control. No one has accused President Ceausescu of an absence of political control. We may have USIS officers in Bucharest, and New York Times correspondents, but they will not affect your political control. I am all for Basket 3, therefore we supported it. We are under no illusion as to what it will produce.

Macovescu: We are for Basket 3. We will have two million tourists in Romania this year.

Kissinger: Without the slightest effect on your political control. You can have five million tourists, and nothing would change.

Sonnenfeldt: Not simultaneously.

Bogdan: It depends what brings them.

Datcu: Coming in cars.

Bogdan: There is also the institutional concept at the conference.

Kissinger: On the institutional concept, your and our attitudes are apt to be different. You want an institutional concept in order to protect yourselves from the Soviets. I am speaking frankly. We are not eager for that because we do not want the Soviets to extend their institutional influence in Western Europe. It would affect our allies and we don’t want such a precedent.

Macovescu: If we close our discussions of European security, then security is one conference. It is not enough. Security is a long process. We believe we have to have all countries participate, including the United States.

[Page 744]

Kissinger: We won’t join anything that includes Sweden.

Bogdan: If you weigh the risk involved, you will find there is a gain.

Kissinger: We can find a solution to this.

Sonnenfeldt: The Soviets meanwhile have cooled down on followon steps.

Bogdan: That is not a reason for the United States to oppose follow-on steps.

Sonnenfeldt: Because they think it would interfere with their interests.

Macovescu: Because it would carry on a continuous process.

[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 3, HS Chron, Official. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Andrews. The conversation took place in the Secretary’s office.