335. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Nicolae Ceausescu, President of Romania
  • Manea Manescu, Prime Minister
  • George Macovescu, Foreign Minister
  • Sergiu Celac, Interpreter
  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Harry G. Barnes, Jr., Ambassador—Interpreter

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

President Ceausescu: [Omitted here is an unrelated comment.] As far as European problems are concerned there was so much talk at Helsinki that any other words now wouldn’t have all that much importance. What is important will be to see what can be accomplished, what each country will do to carry out what was declared and signed.

President Ford: I have the impression, though I may be overoptimistic, that there will be honest efforts to live up to these words. After all, in two years there will be the periodic accounting. I think you’ll see done what was promised.

President Ceausescu: I’m by nature an optimist but this time I’m not really all that optimistic. The problems which need to be solved are very serious ones and they require solutions, some of which go beyond by a great deal what was signed in Helsinki. To be sure, if I were to mention economic problems but we can discuss them later. Rather, with regard to some of the other problems concerning Europe, they are really quite serious. Of course I have already had the occasion to touch on some of these with Dr. Kissinger but I would like to use this possibility to share with you a few of my thoughts if you are agreeable.

President Ford: Please.

President Ceausescu: In the first place, 30 years after the war Europe is still living under armistice conditions. The document we signed at Helsinki and for that matter some of the statements made there were intended to say we should continue to live in the spirit of the Potsdam Agreement2 until peace is concluded. This of course implies that those who were victorious in the war, and this has to do with all the rights regarding Berlin, have the right to intervene in places where there is no peace treaty at any time they feel like it. There are of course certain understandable rights but there are also very great risks. I don’t think it’s a secret from anyone that there are very few Germans who approve of this state of things or are in any way enthusiastic about this situation. Hitler as you know came to power thanks to the situation which was created for Germany as a result of the first World War.

[Page 978]

President Ford: That’s right.

President Ceausescu: There is a certain existing situation, there is a certain correlation of forces now on a worldwide scale, but this situation will not be eternal nor in my opinion will even last that long. Of course I’m not saying anything new to Dr. Kissinger. What I’m telling you now is that although there is a very clear situation today where the United States and the Soviet Union both control the major military forces including nuclear armaments, even that situation is not immutable. Anyway, in order to solve this problem, to do away with this situation, to achieve a peace treaty, requires putting every state involved on an equal footing including Germany. This it seems to me is one of the problems which it will be essential to be solved for the future of Europe. You know in recent years how quickly many situations have changed with what great rapidity.

President Ford: Would you suggest that these problems be solved on a bilateral or broader basis?

President Ceausescu: To be sure, in the first instance they need to be solved by the four powers and the Germans themselves because first of all the four powers are tied in by the Potsdam treaty with the situation in Germany proper.

Secretary Kissinger: Could I ask the President what problems worry you most in Europe. You were saying just now the situation might change.

President Ceausescu: You know very well some of the changes that have taken place even in Europe in the relative positions of different states. To continue to live under the aegis of the Potsdam treaty means the risk of intervention at any moment. This is the essential problem. Secretary Kissinger: You would like a solution to the German problem.

President Ford: Unification?

President Ceausescu: Yes. But now a treaty of peace.

Secretary Kissinger: A peace treaty for Germany?

President Ceausescu: Getting rid of the Potsdam status and the achievement of a normal state of affairs in Europe which would exclude such a right of intervention in the internal affairs of other states.

Secretary Kissinger: What about with regard to Berlin?

President Ceausescu: In the context of a peace treaty a solution would have to be found for Berlin. So long as this will depend on the good will of the four powers any one of which could take the initiative to intervene whenever it believed it was entitled to do so. I note that many others as well as you yourself mentioned in their declarations at Helsinki that they agreed with the right of assigning a special status in Germany and Berlin to the four powers.

[Page 979]

Secretary Kissinger: We made them.

President Ceausescu: It seems to me others did as well.

President Ford: Yes.

President Ceausescu: Without a doubt preservation of this state of affairs means maintaining a permanent lack of security and constant danger of tension in Europe.

Secretary Kissinger: What terms would be in such a treaty?

President Ceausescu: It’s difficult to say now what provisions there might be. In the first place, one has to arrive at the realistic conclusion that it is time to put an end to this sort of situation. The peace treaty should do away with any sort of rights of some states over other states. Granted I’m not talking about the Leninist slogan of no annexations or reparations. That belongs to the past. But a peace, even with reparations and territorial changes, that would still be just.

Secretary Kissinger: In the humanist tradition?

President Ceausescu: I prefer to say the realist tradition.

[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 Official, Chronological. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Barnes. The meeting took place in the Council of State. Barnes sent the memorandum as an attachment to a letter to Sonnenfeldt on August 8.
  2. For relevant excerpts of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, which established four-power rights in occupied Germany, see Documents on Germany, 1944–1985, pp. 54–65.