323. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford1

Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE)

Wednesday, July 30–Friday, August 1, 1975

Finlandia Hall

Helsinki, Finland

I. Purpose

The United States, Canada and 33 European states will participate in the third and concluding summit phase of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. You and each of the other political heads of state or government will sign the CSCE’s final act, and each leader will address the Conference.

Through your presence at the Conference, you will demonstrate that the United States retains a vital interest in Europe, and that the security of the United States is tied through our participation in the Atlantic Alliance, to the stability of the European continent.

Your address to the Conference is scheduled for the morning of August 1, 1975. (Speaking order for the 35 participants was drawn by lot: Prime Minister Wilson is first, General Secretary Brezhnev 13th and you are 26th.) Your speech, which will command worldwide attention, and your bilateral meetings during the conference will provide you with the very valuable opportunity to place the CSCE results in correct perspective.

Your purpose will be to:

  • —evaluate the results of CSCE by stating that its declarations are not legally binding but, instead, represent political and moral commitments to lessen East-West tensions and increase contacts and cooperation;
  • —stress that while CSCE is a step forward, it is not the culmination of the process of détente, that large standing armies still oppose each other and that major differences between East and West remain to be resolved;
  • —urge concrete implementation of the promises contained in the declarations, noting the importance the United States attaches to the humanitarian provisions and stating that Europe’s military security problems still must be dealt with in MBFR and that SALT II must still be concluded.

II. Background, Participants and Press Arrangements


Background: The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe is the product of a long-standing Soviet proposal first raised in 1954 and resurrected in the aftermath of the Czech invasion in 1968. The Western governments recognized the proposal for what it was—a vehicle by which the Soviet Union hoped first to freeze the political map of Europe and then to extend its political influence westward. The strong Soviet interest in the Conference led the West to exploit it in three ways:

  • to gain Soviet concessions in East-West political issues. The successful conclusion of the Berlin agreement in 1971, the agreement between East and West Germany, and the initiation of MBFR talks all were to some degree related to the linkage established by the West between progress on these political questions and the West’s gradual acceptance of a CSCE.
  • to allow governments of Western Europe, both neutrals and members of NATO, to participate in the détente process. Western governments were thus able to respond to a strongly held public feeling that relations between East and West were changing, that the process should be encouraged and that the management of the process should not be left to the US and USSR alone.
  • to introduce into the CSCE , as a condition for its successful conclusion, the issue of human rights—the so-called “freer movement” questions.

The United States has participated in the CSCE with restraint, wishing neither to block the efforts of its Allies nor to have the CSCE seen as a source of contention between the US and the Soviet Union. Our objectives have been to maintain Alliance cohesion; to insist that the CSCE’s declarations are political, not legal; and to seek such possibilities of easing tension between East and West as might be possible.

After two years of difficult negotiation, a CSCE balance sheet shows that:

  • the Soviets have achieved a CSCE. It will be concluded at the summit, in a historically unique event. The final declarations will give the Soviets some basis to claim that Europe’s frontiers have been confirmed along their present configurations, and that the political consequences of World War II have been digested and are universally accepted.
  • the CSCE results are not wholly what the Soviets wanted. The documents are not legally binding. The statement of principles, even if the [Page 933] Soviets seek to lend it the color of law, by its language falls short of supporting the Soviet objective of freezing Europe’s political configuration. Peaceful change of borders is allowed; the right to selfdetermination is stated in sweeping terms. Our rights in Berlin have been preserved. The Soviets did not get agreement to a post-CSCE European security arrangement designed to undermine NATO.
  • —beyond that, the philosophy which permeates most of the CSCE’s declarations is that of the West’s open societies. The thrust implicit in the declarations is toward greater human rights, the freer movement of peoples and wider access to information. In response, Warsaw Pact members have tightened internal discipline.

Final judgment on the results of CSCE will depend

initially on which side is able most persuasively to propagate its version of the CSCE and its version of future European security. The solemnity of the occasion will favor the Soviet Union, as will the simplicity of the Soviet message—that peace has arrived. The West has a more complex story to tell: that CSCE achievements are modest, that the proof of the CSCE’s success lies in the future, and that a strong Allied defense posture is a precondition for security and future détente.

The Conference Documents. CSCE work has covered four major substantive areas, known as “baskets,” concerning: political and military questions; economic, scientific and technological cooperation; cooperation in strengthening human contacts, the exchange of information, and cultural and educational relations; and post-conference follow-up arrangements.

Basket 1

Under the first agenda item, conference negotiators have produced a declaration of the following ten principles of interstate relations:

  • —Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty.
  • —Refraining from the threat or use of force.
  • —Inviolability of frontiers.
  • —Territorial integrity of states.
  • —Peaceful settlement of disputes.
  • —Non-intervention in internal affairs.
  • —Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.
  • —Equal rights and self-determination of peoples.
  • —Cooperation among states.
  • —Fulfillment in good faith of international obligations.

The Soviets were especially anxious to gain Western acceptance of an unambiguous principle on inviolability of frontiers by force. Western participants made absolutely clear, however, that their agreement to this precept would in no sense constitute formal recognition of existing European frontiers or imply that present borders are immutable. The Federal Republic of Germany, with the firm support of its NATO

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Allies, insisted on a reference in the Declaration of Principles to the possibility of effecting border changes by peaceful means. The United States took an active role in negotiation of this key text on peaceful border changes, which is included in the principle of sovereign equality.

Also under agenda item 1, CSCE participants have negotiated limited military security measures designed to strengthen mutual trust and confidence. Specific texts were produced on two modest but significant “confidence-building measures”: prior notification of military maneuvers, and exchange of observers at those maneuvers.

Basket 2

Under agenda item 2, the Geneva talks have produced a series of declarations or resolutions concerned with economic, scientific and technological, and environmental cooperation. These declarations should help broaden East-West industrial cooperation, reduce barriers to trade, increase scientific exchanges, and cooperation in the environment.

Basket 3

The third agenda item—Basket 3—deals with increased human contacts, flow of information, and cooperation in cultural and educational relations. This item was included on the CSCE agenda only as a result of energetic efforts by the United States, our Allies, and the neutral states. Here we have negotiated especially sensitive issues for both East and West, partly because they deal with “ideological coexistence,” which has always been anathema to Moscow. At Geneva, agreement was reached on basket 3 texts dealing with such issues as: family reunification, family visits, marriages between nationals of different states, the right to travel, access to printed, as well as broadcast, information, improved working conditions for journalists, and steppedup cultural and educational cooperation.

Basket 4

Under the fourth agenda item, the conference produced a text on post-CSCE “follow-up” arrangements. The debate here turned on the degree of institutionalization and continuity to be accorded postconference activities. The final compromise text provides for unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral actions designed to carry forward the work of the conference and monitor the implementation of agreed texts. A meeting of experts will be convened in the first half of 1977 to prepare for a gathering of senior officials, later the same year, to review results of CSCE and plan for possible additional meetings in the future.

The CSCE Signing Ceremony. The concluding ceremony at which the CSCE Final Document will be signed will take place immediately after the last plenary session at approximately 5:00 p.m. August 1, on the stage of Finlandia Hall. The 35 heads of state or government will [Page 935] be seated around a horseshoe-shaped table in French alphabetical order. You will sit between FRG Chancellor Schmidt and Austrian President Kirchschlaeger, and will be third to sign. The participants will each sign once after the last item of the CSCE document.

Participants: The principal CSCE participants are listed alphabetically by country at Tab A.2
Press Arrangements: The CSCE summit will receive full press coverage.

III. Talking Points

The current working draft of your address to the CSCE summit is at Tab B.3 The text is being cleared with Paul Theis.
Talking points for your bilateral meetings during the course of the summit are being staffed in separate memoranda.

The accompanying Department of State briefing books4 contain:

  • —additional CSCE background.
  • —biograpic sketches of the CSCE participants.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Trip Files, Box 13, July 26–August 4, 1975, Europe, General (15). Secret. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “The President has seen.” According to an attached covering memorandum, Clift drafted the memorandum and forwarded it to Kissinger on July 22.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Attached but not printed. For the final text of Ford’s address at the CSCE summit, see Public Papers: Ford, 1975, pp. 1074–1081.
  4. Not attached. Papers from President Ford’s briefing books for his trip are in Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Trip Files, Box 10, July 26–August 4, 1975, Europe, Briefing Book.