318. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

5767. For EUR/RPM. Subject: CSCE: Stage II highlights—July 14–21.

Summary. A cliff-hanger to the end, CSCE confirmed July 30 opening date for Stage III summit, completed all its substantive and procedural work, reached consensus on the final documents of the conference, and closed Stage II at 4:00 a.m. on July 21. Belgrade was accepted as the site for the two follow-up meetings set for 1977. End summary.
Stage III—coordinating committee confirmed July 30 date for Stage III in early morning hours of July 19, after key remaining substantive questions had been settled.
Final act2—By July 18 completion of final act had become question of whether or not to accede to Soviet desire to include reference to irreversibility of détente.3 As Soviet pressure increased, resistance of NATO and neutral participants to inclusion of concept stiffened. By the late evening of July 18, the question revolved around finding a suitable compromise which would allow the Soviets to back off without losing face. Problem remained critical because Soviets tied approval of Europe clause covering Berlin to satisfaction of their desires on “irreversibility.” Shortly after midnight on July 19, Soviet delegation chief Kovalev apparently telephoned Moscow for agreement to fall back. When instructions were received, the Soviets proposed substitution of the formulation “make continuing and lasting” for irreversible. Other participants agreed immediately and negotiation of final act was completed. Package of statements and documents accompanying final act also includes letter which Government of Finland will transmit to UN Secretary General notifying him that the final act “is not eligible, in whole or in part, for registration with the Secretariat under article 102 [Page 919] of the Charter of the United Nations, as would be in the case were it a matter of a treaty or international agreement….” This statement, combined with a reference to “non-registerability” and a so-called “disclaimer” paragraph in the final act itself, provide sound legal backing for the position that CSCE commitments are not legally binding. A further element in final act package is entry into official journal of statement by executive secretary of conference calling for participants to notify Secretariat of exact titles they wish to have inscribed under signature of their representative. This procedure was arranged to establish the principle that each participant may supply any title or titles he wishes to have placed under his name. The arrangement was worked out between the USSR and EC participants as a means of providing for inscription of EC presidency title under the name of Italian Prime Minister Moro. By making submission of titles a general principle, the EC relieved the Soviets of the need to give approval to inclusion of Moro’s EC function. Since the Secretariat statement was entered into the journal with a comment that the coordinating committee had “taken note” of the request the EC has a certain guarantee that the procedure will be honored.
Principles and their implementation—during intensive informal sessions, principles subcommittee gradually narrowed the outstanding questions down to a series of interrelated issues the key to which was the manner in which the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force was to be qualified, an issue on which Cypriots and Turks were bitterly divided. Breakthrough became possible when Turkish del received flexible instructions allowing him to accept a compromise package from the chair with only minor changes. After this decision, principles declaration quickly fell into line and final stylistic review was completed. Subcommittee registered the text on July 19 and committee I registered it on July 20 as a number of delegations filed interpretive statements on various issues. Following Romanian-Soviet agreement on voluntary basis issue in CBMs, special working body on implementation sent texts of Romanian and Swiss proposals to committee I which registered texts on July 20.
Military security—in order to appease Turks and overcome last major stumbling block on area of application of maneuver CBM, Soviets and Warsaw Pact allies early in week reluctantly accepted lastminute addition of sentence to effect that notification of combined maneuvers should be considered even below threshold of 25,000 troops, if there were “significant” numbers of amphibious or airborne troops involved. Neutrals expressed gratification with this step, which enabled them to abandon idea of a separate threshold for independent amphibious and airborne maneuvers, and with US agreement to clarification of threshold, so that there is no misunderstanding that all maneuvers in Europe involving over 25,000 troops are to be notified, [Page 920] whether the troops are land forces, airborne or amphibious, or combinations thereof. Concurrently Soviets, Romanians, and Dutch reached agreement on compromise text for preamble expressing “voluntary basis” for prior notification of maneuvers. Despite these moves by others, Turkish delegation held fast until final hours of Stage II on its original area text, and real negotiations on a substitute began only on July 18. Substitute text was introduced by Turkish delegation which accepted principle of equal application of CBM measure in USSR and Turkey and thus met requirements of most participants, but exception for areas close to Iran, Iraq and Syria was initially expressed in a manner unacceptable to Cyprus. After marathon mediation by allies, with assistance from Soviets and others, an awkward text mutually acceptable to Turkey and Cyprus was agreed in the early morning of July 19, enabling conference to confirm consensus on July 30 summit date. Subcommittee completed work on smaller remaining points and inserted numerical parameters on July 19, and registered text on July 20.
Economics—last remaining issue in Basket II was resolved when Soviets accepted a phrase linking reciprocity and MFN.
Humanitarian cooperation—questions of title for Basket III document and link phrase between overall preamble and substantive texts were settled and full document was registered by coordinating committee.
Mediterranean—Maltese compromise phrase making “reduction of armed forces” in the Mediterranean region one of the purposes of continued contacts on the Mediterranean was accepted and Mediterranean Declaration agreed.
Follow-up—site for 1977 follow-up meetings was not agreed until final hours of the conference. Belgrade and Helsinki were both offered as possibilities, but Yugoslavs refused on principle to compromise by splitting the meetings between the two capitals, and insisted that both should take place in the same location. Yugoslavs and Romanians felt strongly that a further meeting in Helsinki would undercut the concept of rotation and could be the beginning of a permanent site. Since Finns have hosted preparatory talks, and Stages I and III, and since Yugoslav candidacy for hosting follow-up meetings had been presented first, pressure built for Finns to withdraw, which they did in early morning hours of July 21. Coordinating committee immediately agreed that both 1977 follow-up meetings should take place in Belgrade.
Comment: This is the last highlights cable which USDel CSCE will send. We hope these cables have served to keep addressees informed of the development of the Geneva negotiations, and that they have been useful to those who have followed CSCE from a distance.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated to all CSCE capitals, Cairo, Lisbon, Nicosia, Oslo, Sofia, USNMR SHAPE, USCINCEUR, UNCOCOSOUTH, USLO SACLANT at Norfolk, CINCLANT, USDEL SALT Two at Geneva, Ankara, Luxembourg, Rabat, and Tunis.
  2. The Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, signed on August 1, 1975, at Helsinki, is in Department of State Bulletin, September 1, 1975, pp. 323–350.
  3. Telegram 5501 from Geneva, July 14, reads in part: “The Soviets wish paragraph 1 of the Final Act to refer to the ‘irreversibility’ of détente, a concept which Western participants have succeeded after difficult negotiations to remove from the language of the principles and their preamble.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)