256. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Polish:
    • Edward Gierek, First Secretary of Central Committee of Polish United Workers’ Party
    • Mieczyslaw Jagielski, Vice Premier and Chairman of State Planning Commission
    • Stefan Olszowski, Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Richard Frelek, Member of Secretariat of Central Committee of Polish United Workers’ Party
    • Dr. Witold Trampczynski, Polish Ambassador
    • Jerzy Waszczuk, Director, First Secretary’s Office, Central Committee of Polish United Workers’ Party
    • Marian Kruczkowski, First Deputy Director of the Press, Propaganda and Publications, Department of the Central Committee
    • Romuald Spasowski, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • U.S.:
    • The Secretary
    • The Deputy Secretary
    • Ambassador Richard T. Davies
    • Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Counselor
    • Arthur A. Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
    • Senator H. H. Humphrey
    • Senator Charles Percy
    • Representative Clement Zablocki2

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

Gierek: For us in Poland the prime importance is given to a successful conclusion of the CSCE conference. This establishment of a new relationship in Europe is of historic importance.

Secretary: By the way, I am doing a sociological survey to determine which Foreign Minister has read all of the CSCE documents. Let me hasten to add that I have not.

Olszowski: You are putting me in a difficult position.

Secretary: To my knowledge Gromyko is the only one that claims he’s read all the documents.

Olszowski: In fact, we are studying very seriously the Helsinki communiqué.

Secretary: We have too. We are interested in bringing the conference to an early end and we will cooperate to do this. Speaking very frankly, we are not prepared, however, to jeopardize our relationship with our Western European allies in order to achieve agreement. Even when we might personally be inclined to go along with the position, we will not urge our European allies to do this. But even with that qualification I believe that the conference can be concluded the first part of next year.

Gierek: This would be an achievement for peace in this part of the world but it would also have good effects in other parts as well.

Secretary: The major issues seem to be in connection with the principles on the specific language dealing with “peaceful change.” This is primarily a problem between the Federal Republic and the Soviet Union.

Gierek: And us.

Secretary: We have no frontiers we want to change.

Gierek: We don’t either.

Secretary: It is not our impression that this problem will be difficult to solve. There is also the question of CBMs and Basket III. Here the difficulty seems to be that the documents are accumulating. We are trying to reduce the 13 or 14 proposals to one document that can be negotiated. Our allies, however, want to go through the process of a [Page 746] first reading. We support a first reading and when it is concluded we will attempt to get a single position that can be negotiated. Personally, I believe that the Communists will not change their regimes without noticing it. It’s a good idea to have these exchanges of persons and ideas. But that does not seem to us a major area of difficulty. My impression is that the conference can be successfully concluded early in 1975.

Olszowski: One matter of concern is that the fall session in Geneva seemed to start smoothly but quickly came to a standstill.

Secretary: That couldn’t have been a very smooth beginning then.

Olszowski: I agree, but there are too many problems and they must be reduced. We must seek to elaborate what is on the table. In Basket I the key is the principle of the inviolability of frontiers and that seems to be on the way to agreement. Basket II also seems near completion. On Basket III we think it would be worthwhile to take a realistic look at what is acceptable. As far as Polish practice is concerned, there are no serious obstacles for us. Looking realistically there should be proposals that both sides can accept if we select the proposals carefully. In fact, this brings us to the last question which is the post-conference body. Perhaps we could select some formulas to agree on now and leave others for the continuing machinery to work out later.

Gierek: As far as Basket III is concerned there are 13 to 15 million people who visit Poland each year (sic).3 Sixty to eighty percent are from the West—Scandinavia, Germany, France, etc. We will have several tens of thousands of Americans. We have no objection to that. In addition, 8 million (sic)4 Poles visit outside Poland—in Czechoslovakia, France, Scandinavia and even Spain.

Secretary: I don’t think Poland will have difficulty with this area but what about the Soviets?

Gierek: It is true there may be some difficulties for them.

Secretary: We approach this whole matter in a constructive spirit. We don’t wish to push these matters in a way that will humiliate the Soviet Union. After the first reading we will try to find some compromises. The authors of these proposals need a first reading to satisfy their pride. As far as the United States is concerned, we could do it either way. This is a procedural issue and once we have settled it we can then move toward a conclusion. On the inviolability issue, if you want my honest view, only the lawyers understand the differences between the various formulations on peaceful change. No one is going to be able to change a frontier by pointing to a paragraph in the CSCE Declaration. [Page 747] The main issue now seems to be over the placement of the word “only.” The West Germans have a difficult domestic policy issue. We have told the FRG and the Soviets to work it out. We have no quarrel with the old registered text or with the new text. The problem, Chuck (turning to Senator Percy), is that the German lawyers feel that the phrase “only under international law can frontiers be changed peacefully” means nothing because international law has nothing to say about changing frontiers and, therefore, they want a phrase “according to international law frontiers can only be changed peacefully and by agreement.”

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

Olszowski: That is a very interesting subject but may I go back to the other subject for a moment. On the CSCE it is not only the Soviets who have difficulty with Basket III. There are others as well. For example, the Turks are not happy with some of the proposals for exchange of information.

Secretary: You mean the Turks want to oppose Basket III because they don’t want newspapers to come in?

Olszowski: That seems to be the problem.

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

Secretary: I am not informed but does Albania participate in the CSCE?

Gierek: No.

Olszowski: They have made speeches and public statements saying that they consider the conference disgusting.

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

  1. Source: Ford Library, NSC Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs Staff, Box 72, October 1974, Poland, First Secretary Gierek (12). Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman. The conversation took place in the Secretary’s dining room.
  2. Humphrey was a Democrat from Minnesota; Percy, a Republican from Illinois; and Zablocki, a Democrat from Illinois.
  3. As in the original.
  4. As in the original.