296. Editorial Note

On August 18, 1971, during their 32d meeting at the Allied Control Council building in West Berlin, the three Allied Ambassadors to West Germany and the Soviet Ambassador to East Germany reached tentative agreement on “the remaining deadlocked points” in the Berlin negotiations. (Telegram 1674 from Berlin, August 19; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B) Although Soviet Ambassador Abrasimov reiterated that the “question of the consulate general was not linked to the question of passports,” the final settlement, in fact, rested on a balance between the terms for Soviet presence in West Berlin and West German representation of West Berlin abroad. After all other issues had been resolved, Abrasimov suggested addressing the consulate general and Federal passports at the “Ambassadorial level,” i.e. without advisers, “not because the Ambassadors did not trust them but because each of them had wives and each wife had many girl friends and one of them might say something to the ‘Spiegel’.” (Telegram 1695 from Berlin, August 20; ibid.)

During the private discussion, Abrasimov was equally blunt: “if there were no paragraph relating to a Soviet consulate general in the main text of the agreement, there would be no agreement.” Ambassador Rush replied that “he and his Western colleagues were willing to recommend to their governments that they grant a consulate general to the Soviets in the Western sectors subject to conditions concerning status, personnel and facilities.” Rush said, however, that he was “disturbed by the idea that the consulate general would be taken up in the agreement itself.” Abrasimov expressed gratitude that the Allied Ambassadors had conceded the issue but insisted that mention of the consulate general in the agreement itself was “a question of prestige for the USSR.” “On the other hand,” he continued, “if it were of no concern to the Allies, the Soviets would remove from the agreement the section on representation abroad of the interests of the Western sectors of Berlin.” French Ambassador Sauvagnargues then proposed that, rather than remove provisions on Soviet presence and West German representation from the agreement, the issues, being “intrinsically linked together,” should be combined. The Ambassadors accepted this proposal as Rush quickly offered language that had been secretly advanced in draft form two weeks earlier by West German Chancellor Brandt (see Document 277). Once the details on Soviet presence had been settled, the Ambassadors had little difficulty dealing with West German representation, approving a provision which stated that West Berliners could travel to the Soviet Union carrying Federal passports stamped “issued in accordance with the Quadripartite Agreement.” At the end of the meeting, Abrasimov praised his colleagues for their [Page 847] ability to take decisions “very important for the life of our people and for the preservation of peace.” “As the old German saying goes,” he said, “‘everything is good which ends good’.” (Telegram 1700 from Berlin, August 20; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 28 GER B)