325. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Poland
    • Foreign Minister Olszowski
    • Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Spasowski
    • Director, America Department—Jan Kinast
    • Director, Foreign Department, Central Committee—Ryszard Frelek
  • U.S.
    • The Secretary of State
    • Lt. General Scowcroft
    • Ambassador Davies
    • Counselor Sonnenfeldt
    • Arthur Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs

Olszowski: I think the words of the First Secretary inspired all of us and what I would like to do in our meeting this afternoon is to get right down to cases and I have ten points to present to you.

The Secretary: Why not? That’s what God did.

Olszowski: I will try to concentrate this in a very short period. The first point is that I wish to welcome you most heartily. The second point is that I would like to present to you the state of our relations. I think that they are good, that they are growing better and developing. I think that we are generally moving to a higher stage. I would like to emphasize the important role which I believe Ambassador Davies has played.

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The Secretary: I am delighted to hear that. He is one of our very best Ambassadors and I have complete confidence in him.

Olszowski: That is our feeling too. On the economic side of our relations the joint US-Polish commissions and institutions are exploring means of cooperation. For example, on the coal side the Koppers Company has been doing good work. In industrial cooperation we have been talking to General Motors about a truck plant and, similarly, we have worked out an arrangement to build color television screens in this country. Our cultural exchanges are also very important. It seems to me that in our bilateral relations we are ahead of most of the obligations and demands that are made in the Helsinki documents. We are doing more already. We want to make the U.S. society more aware of our culture and vice-versa.

In political contacts they have been very close between our Foreign Ministry and the State Department. There are two special arrangements that I would like to mention. The first is on civil aviation where we would like to expand our bilateral cooperation. We have requested support from you to increase the frequency of our civil air exchanges. We also would like to see a new route developed to Chicago. The second is in the area of fishing. We express appreciation for the two agreements we have reached. We request consideration for Polish fishing vessels to call at the West coast.

Beyond the CSCE Conference we have a chance to develop positive relations in European cooperation by implementing the decisions of the Conference and we wish you to know that we are ready to implement those decisions. In general, on détente, we think cooperation in Europe is good. Both East and West seem to desire this. Our relations are excellent with all countries.

We still have some problems with the Federal Republic which I referred to in the car. Very briefly to evaluate these we have had several months of confidential negotiations. Both sides are trying to overcome the difficulties, but there are three issues that remain. First, the settlement of Poles in the Federal Republic. This is not a substantive disagreement but we differ over numbers. We think that the FRG figures are too high. There are not that many applications. We think a realistic figure is 110,000 with ten thousand more or less on each side of that figure. Second, there is the question of compensation for victims of Nazi acts. The Federal Republic does not wish to see this matter linked directly to compensation but searches for another way. They, for example, have talked about a social security payment and we think that it is possible to reach a conclusion on this if the Federal Republic shows sufficient imagination. We would like to sign such an agreement at Helsinki. That would be our contribution to a furthering of détente.

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On the UN question, Ambassador Davies has given us the text of an oral note. We have read with great interest your Milwaukee speech2 and we are ready to cooperate. We’ll consider any proposal you wish to make. We share your view that there should not be confrontation but rather negotiation. We are already very attached to the principle of universality and, therefore, we are very negative toward the expulsion of any member of the United Nations.

There is one further UN issue and that is the question of the succession to Waldheim and the new Secretary General. We would like to see that problem settled without too much difficulty. Now I believe that is nine of my points. The tenth is that I would like you to visit us for a longer period of time, Mr. Secretary.

The Secretary: I very much appreciate the points you have made and I particularly accept your tenth point with pleasure. My wife was sad that she was not able to be with me and she is very interested in coming to visit in Poland.

Olszowski: We are looking forward very much to such a visit.

The Secretary: First, let me say on our basic relations that I think they are good and that they are improving. We are prepared to continue such improvement on the understanding that there will be differences due to our different geography and ideology and we are prepared to be understanding of the effects of geography and ideology on your policies. We think that improvement can take place and that these things can be reconciled with our other objectives. We are sympathetic to many Polish ideas.

Second, on the fish problem I think we are making progress and I hope that we will be able to be helpful.

Third, on air routes there is a general difficulty in our air situation these days, but it certainly ought to be possible for you to fly between two Polish cities like Warsaw and Chicago. I will look into this further.

Fourth, on the European situation and the implementation of principles of Helsinki we will cooperate and we look forward particularly to some progress in the MBFR negotiations in Vienna. Despite the present tendencies in the United States, we think that détente will be irreversible. After next year and the elections things should be quieter in the United States.

Fifth, we very much appreciate the ideas expressed by the First Secretary at lunch on the UN et cetera. We should not have any confrontations. The developed countries including Poland have nothing to gain by conflicts in the UN. We want to encourage the LDCs to think about [Page 940] their problems in a positive sense. We want to make a number of technical proposals to deal with LDC problems and not have an ideological debate. That is what we look forward to doing in the Seventh Special UN Session. We certainly appreciate your support for the principle of universality which we share. If there is an attempt to exclude Israel, we would have to reconsider our whole attitude toward the UN and I may say that we include suspension as well as exclusion in this attitude.

Sixth, on the Secretary General we will stay in touch. I think we see eye to eye on this matter.

Seventh, with respect to the FRG negotiations in our talks with them3 they mentioned to us that there were some 300,000 ethnic Germans who wished to emigrate from Poland. They feel that the minimum number they need in the negotiations with you is 130,000 over a period of three or four years but I am sure they are prepared to look at the question closely. They need, however, to have some provision that the matter can receive continuing consideration in the future.

Olszowski: We are prepared to accept such a clause and we should therefore be able to reach agreement on that. We do not think, however, that 300,000 is a real figure.

The Secretary: I think the 130,000 is the key. If you can accept that then there would not be a problem. They explained the complications particularly due to the fact that they need Bundesrat approval for part of the deal.

Olszowski: Yes, specifically, they have offered 1.3 billion Deutsch marks in social security payments and 1 billion in a straight payment to the Polish Government. Your mention of the Bundesrat is a new element and we hope that this will not delay a settlement.

The Secretary: No, I believe that they are very eager to have a settlement. We would like to see it also. Genscher is confident that there will be an agreement but he did not wish to sign it at Helsinki although he is prepared to see it concluded there. He would like it to be signed instead in Warsaw or Bonn.

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Olszowski: Thank you very much for this information. We want to have good relations with the FRG and good relations between our two peoples.

The Secretary: The FRG wishes to have the same and achieve it for all of Europe.

Olszowski: We want to conclude by thanking you very much.

The Secretary: I want to say that as far as the number of points is concerned I will recall a story of negotiating with Israel where they told me they had seven points to make. They then said that the first seven points would depend on an eighth point. After two hours of hearing their points, I said I would like to comment on their seven points. They were immediately outraged because they said I had forgotten their eighth point and was already trying to cheat them out of one point.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 273, Memoranda of Conversation, Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Hartman. Approved by James Covey (S). The meeting took place in the Polish Foreign Ministry.
  2. For Kissinger’s news conference in Milwaukee on July 16, see Department of State Bulletin, August 4, 1975, pp. 179–184.
  3. No record of this conversation has been found. Sonnenfeldt wrote to Ambassador Hillenbrand in telegram Secto 8038 from Warsaw, July 28: “You should see FonMin Genscher and tell him that the Secretary has spoken to FonMin Olszowski on the subject of the repatriation of ethnic Germans. He took the matter up precisely as agreed between the Secretary and Genscher. Olszowski indicated he could accept an open-ended clause about the future. He also indicated he could go up to 120,000 in the present agreement. The Secretary made it clear that the West Germans were very firm about the figure of 130,000. He wants Genscher to know that he took the first opportunity of raising the subject.” Hillenbrand replied in telegram 12162 from Bonn that he conveyed Kissinger’s message to Genscher, who “expressed his gratitude.” Genscher said that “the Germans would now carry on the negotiation in Helsinki.” (Both in National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files)