The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity of the United States Government. The Historian of the Department of State is charged with the responsibility for the preparation of the Foreign Relations series. The staff of the Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, under the direction of the General Editor, plans, researches, compiles, and edits the volumes in the series. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg first promulgated official regulations codifying specific standards for the selection and editing of documents for the series on March 26, 1925. Those regulations, with minor modifications, guided the series through 1991.

Public Law 102–138, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush on October 28, 1991, established a new statutory charter for the preparation of the series. Section 198 of P.L. 102–138 added a new Title IV to the Department of State’s Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 4351, et seq.).

The statute requires that the Foreign Relations series be a thorough, accurate, and reliable record of major United States foreign policy decisions and significant United States diplomatic activity. The volumes of the series must include all records needed to provide comprehensive documentation of major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government. The statute confirms the editing principles established by Secretary Kellogg in 1928: the Foreign Relations series is guided by historical objectivity and accuracy; records should not be altered or deletions made without indicating in the published text that a deletion has been made; the published record should omit no facts that were of major importance in reaching a decision; and nothing should be omitted for the purpose of concealing a defect in policy. The 1991 statute also requires that the Foreign Relations series be published not more than 30 years after the events recorded.

Structure and Scope of the Foreign Relations Series

This electronic-only volume is part of the subseries of the Foreign Relations series that documents the most important decisions and actions of the foreign policy of the administrations of Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. This is the latest Foreign Relations volume to be published in a new format, that of electronic-only publication. Approximately 25 percent of the volumes scheduled for publication for the 1969–1976 subseries, covering the Nixon and NixonFord administrations, will be in this format. The decision to institute this change was taken in full consultation with the Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, which was established under the Foreign Relations statute. The advantages of this new method of presenting documentation are evident in this volume: the format enables convenient access to a large amount of key documentation on a broader range of issues, all or any portion of which can be easily downloaded. Annotation—the value added element of documentary editing—is still present in limited form, but not to the scale of a Foreign Relations print volume. This electronic-only publication results in substantial savings in cost and time of production, thus allowing the series to present a fuller range of documentation on a wider range of topics sooner than would have been possible under a print-only format. These advantages compensate for the fact that this Foreign Relations volume is not an actual book bound in traditional ruby buckram. The Department of State, the Historian, the General Editor, and the Historical Advisory Committee are all dedicated to publishing the great majority of the volumes in the Foreign Relations series in print form; these are also posted in electronic format on the Department of State’s website. While the future of research in documentary publications is increasingly tied to the ease of use and availability of the Internet, the Department of State will continue to use both print and electronic-only versions to make the Foreign Relations series available to the widest audience possible. In that sense, this innovation is in keeping with the general principles of the series, which was begun by President Lincoln and Secretary of State Seward and continued by subsequent presidents and secretaries of state for 140 years.

Focus of Research and Principles of Selection for Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Volume E–15

The documentation in this volume highlights U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe from 1973–1976 in the period of détente. Relations with the communist-dominated states of Eastern Europe warmed during this period, building on the progress made during Nixon’s first term, the afterglow of détente with the Soviet Union, and U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam. The documents opening this volume affirm that U.S. foreign policy still perceived Eastern Europe’s collective status as “captive nations” under Soviet domination but held hopes for improved bilateral relations on a country-by-country basis. The Nixon and Ford administrations’ ambitions for improved relations with Hungary and Czechoslovakia remained unrealized, and U.S. contacts with Bulgaria and Albania were extremely limited. Documentation on these countries is contained only in the Eastern Europe Regional chapter. The majority of this volume focuses on those countries with which the United States had major continuing bilateral relations, evident in new or improved economic, cultural, and political-military relations: Romania, Yugoslavia, and Poland. These three countries, the Administration hoped, were most likely to assert their independence from Moscow. Finally, although the United States officially established diplomatic ties to the German Democratic Republic during this period, relations remained limited and evidenced a continuing low level of tension over the status of divided Berlin.

The primary hope for better relations was the prospect of increased interaction. Both Nixon and Kissinger believed that normalization of economic relations could gradually bring about greater social and political liberty in Eastern Europe without raising suspicions among leadership of the Soviet Union that the United States was trying to undermine the Soviet bloc. In October 1972, President Nixon convened a review of economic relations with Eastern Europe resulting in a recommendation of incremental normalization of economic relations with all communist states of Eastern Europe.

Greater trade relations with Eastern Europe required a reevaluation of existing measures restricting trade with communist nations, primarily those governing the release of sensitive or advanced technology. The Coordinating Committee on Export Controls, the primary multilateral organ to regulate the sale of strategically sensitive products and technology to communist nations, adjusted the classification of certain types of technology, notably those governing the processing rates of computers, to facilitate their export to communist nations. The Nixon administration also extended rights of navigation to Eastern Bloc nations in U.S. ports (with the notable exception of the Port of Charleston, which was excluded for national security reasons). Despite the new openness in economic relations, U.S. efforts to address Eastern Europeans beyond state-to-state diplomacy continued: the President’s Commission on International Radio Broadcasting, headed by Milton Eisenhower, urged Nixon at the outset of his second term to redefine and renew the mission of Radio Free Europe, which remained under government control.

The results for improving bilateral relations with key nations in Eastern Europe remained mixed. In its first term, the Nixon administration had focused on increasing contacts with Yugoslavia and Romania; in the second term, Poland emerged as a third country of primary U.S. interest. Polish First Secretary Edward Gierek visited Washington during October 1974 and President Ford visited Poland with the usual signatures of statements of better political and economic relations in the summer of 1975. In the summer of 1976 Gierek’s government fell into disarray, when it drastically raised the prices of basic commodities, especially food, in response to an economic downturn. The resulting workers’ riots, primarily in Radom and Warsaw, forced Gierek to abandon this policy and threatened to destabilize his government. Despite continued improvements in U.S.-Polish relations during this period, U.S. intelligence and diplomatic sources alike had begun to question the ultimate stability of the Gierek regime.

Yugoslavia and Romania remained the most promising prospects for improved U.S. relations with Eastern European nations. Romania seemed the most stable country by the end of 1976 and, as such, received the greatest share of official attention from the United States. President Nicolae Ceausescu’s willingness to break with Moscow over the Prague Spring in 1968 and his support for U.S. foreign policy made him an attractive target for Nixon and Kissinger. The second term was a flurry of high-level contact between the two countries that underscored a growing cordial relationship. Ceausescu became the first Eastern European head of state to make an official visit to the United States in December 1973. Another visit from Ceausescu followed in June 1975. In return, Kissinger briefly stopped in Bucharest in 1974, and Ford paid an official state visit to Bucharest and Sinaia nine months later. Romania successfully negotiated the sales of commercial aircraft in 1973 and, through the Trade Act of 1974, became the first Eastern Bloc nation to win Most-Favored Nation trade status from the United States. Bucharest also pushed Washington for access to purchase military equipment, but the Nixon administration remained cool to the idea.

Yugoslavia was easily the most independent of Moscow’s orbit—and therefore a natural focus of U.S. attention in Eastern Europe for a quarter century—but faced a looming succession crisis. The health and visibility of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito became an increasing source of speculation among diplomatic and intelligence sources. All evaluations of relations with Belgrade during this period, first and foremost, demanded a focus on identifying Tito’s probable successor and orienting the country’s military to a congenial view of the United States. In 1976, the United States prepared a lengthy contingency study for a hypothetical post-Tito Soviet invasion of Yugoslavia. The Departments of State and Defense negotiated the sales of military equipment to Yugoslavia, which might enable it to resist such an invasion. In 1976, the Ford administration concluded a significant agreement to sell TOW anti-tank missile systems to Yugoslavia. The question of Tito’s successor, of course, remained unclear—and unanswered—by the time Ford departed office.

U.S. relations with the German Democratic Republic, serves as a counterpoint to the overall thawing trend in U.S.-Eastern European relations. Despite the signing of the Quadripartite Agreement in September 1971, the status of West Berlin remained contentious, especially over U.S. concerns about Soviet interference and delays to supplies, personnel, and civilians transiting in and out of West Berlin. Bonn’s intention to place a Federal Environmental Office in West Berlin exacerbated East-West tensions. The U.S. initiative to open relations with the German Democratic Republic originated from Secretary of State Rogers; Nixon, in particular, was unenthusiastic about establishing formal diplomatic ties and would have further delayed taking action were it not for the pressures generated by West German Chancellor Brandt’s Ostpolitik and recognition by Great Britain and France. As a result, the recognition of the German Democratic Republic and the establishment of an Embassy in East Berlin in 1974 did not immediately lead to a more cordial bilateral relationship.

Although Eastern Europe certainly was not foremost among national security or diplomatic concerns during the second Nixon and Ford term, the issue of Eastern Europe had unforeseen domestic political consequences for the Ford administration as a result of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe of 1975. Critics of the Ford administration perceived the Helsinki Conference, which recognized the territorial integrity of the states of Europe, as one that granted legitimacy to the Soviet Union’s territorial gains after World War II and legitimized Soviet control of Eastern Europe. When informal remarks by Department of State Counselor Helmut Sonnenfeldt to European Chiefs of Mission’s London Conference in December 1975 about an “organic relationship” between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were released in the press, Ford’s critics—especially those on his political Right—charged that the Ford administration had “abandoned” Eastern Europe to the Soviet sphere of influence. The “Sonnenfeldt Doctrine,” which the Administration strenuously disavowed, nonetheless created problems of public perception for Ford, whose Republican Party was attempting to woo ethnic blue-collar workers (a traditional Democratic constituency) in the 1976 election. To make matters worse, Ford claimed during a Presidential candidates’ debate with Governor Jimmy Carter that there was “no Soviet domination” of Eastern Europe. This gaffe elevated the public perception of Ford’s lack of knowledge of foreign affairs and the Soviet Union’s relationship with Eastern Europe.

Editorial Methodology

The documents are presented chronologically according to Washington time. Memoranda of conversation are placed according to the time and date of the conversation, rather than the date the memorandum was drafted.

Editorial treatment of the documents published in the Foreign Relations electronic-only volumes follows Office style guidelines, supplemented by guidance from the General Editor and the Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division. The original text is reproduced exactly, including marginalia or other notations, which are both visible on the facsimile copy of the document and described in the source note. There is also a text version of the document. The editors have supplied a heading, a summary, and a source note with additional relevant information, as required, for each document included in the volume. Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation are retained as found in the original text, except that obvious typographical errors are silently corrected in the text file. Abbreviations and contractions are preserved as found in the text, and a list of abbreviations, persons, and sources accompanies the volume.

Bracketed insertions in roman type are used on the facsimile copy and in the text file to indicate text omitted by the editors because it deals with an unrelated subject. Text that remains classified after declassification review is blacked-out on the facsimile copy and a bracketed insertion (in italic type) appears in the text file. Entire documents selected for publication but withheld because they must remain classified are accounted for by a heading, a source note, and a bracketed note indicating the number of pages not declassified. These denied documents are listed in their chronological place in the volume.

Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation reviews records, advises, and makes recommendations concerning the Foreign Relations series. The Advisory Committee monitors the overall compilation and editorial process of the series and advises on all aspects of the preparation and declassification of the series. The Advisory Committee does not necessarily review the contents of individual volumes in the series, but it makes recommendations on issues that come to its attention and reviews volumes, as it deems necessary, to fulfill its advisory and statutory obligations.

Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act Review

Under the terms of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) of 1974 (44 U.S.C. 2111 note), the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has custody of the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The requirements of the PRMPA and implementing regulations govern access to the Nixon Presidential historical materials. The PRMPA and implementing public access regulations require NARA to review for additional restrictions in order to ensure the protection of the privacy rights of former Nixon White House officials, since these officials were not given the opportunity to separate their personal materials from public papers. Thus, the PRMPA and related implementing public access regulations require NARA to notify formally the Nixon Estate and former Nixon White House staff members that the agency is scheduling for public release Nixon White House historical materials. The Nixon Estate and former White House staff members have 30 days to contest the release of Nixon historical materials in which staff members were participants or are mentioned. Further, the PRMPA and implementing regulations require NARA to segregate and return to the creator of files private and personal materials. All Foreign Relations volumes that include materials from NARA’s Nixon Presidential Materials Project are processed and released in accordance with the PRMPA.

Declassification Review

The Office of Information Programs and Services, Bureau of Administration, Department of State, conducted the declassification review of all the documents published in this volume. The review was undertaken in accordance with the standards set forth in Executive Order 12958, as amended, on Classified National Security Information and applicable laws.

The principle guiding declassification review is to release all information, subject only to the current requirements of national security as embodied in law and regulation. Declassification decisions entailed concurrence of the appropriate geographic and functional bureaus in the Department of State, other concerned agencies of the U.S. Government, and the appropriate foreign governments. The final declassification review of this volume, which began in 2007 and was completed in 2008, resulted in the decision to withhold 0 documents in full, to excise a paragraph or more in 3 documents, and to make minor excisions in 5 documents. The editors are confident, on the basis of the research conducted in preparing this volume and as a result of the declassification review process described, that this volume is an accurate record of the foreign policy of the Nixon and Ford administrations toward Eastern Europe for the 1973 to 1976 period.


The editors wish to acknowledge the assistance of officials at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project of the National Archives and Records Administration (Archives II), at College Park, Maryland. The editors also wish to acknowledge the Richard Nixon Estate for allowing access to the Nixon Presidential recordings and the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace for facilitating that access.

Peter A. Kraemer did the research, made the selection, and prepared the annotation for the volume under the supervision and direction of Europe and Global Issues Division Chief M. Todd Bennett and the General Editor, Edward C. Keefer.

Chris Tudda coordinated the declassification review under the supervision of the Chief of the Declassification and Publishing Division, Susan C. Weetman. Keri E. Lewis compiled the document list and edited the lists of abbreviations, persons, and sources. Mandy A. Chalou performed the copy and technical editing of the electronic files. Carl Ashley, Mandy A. Chalou, Linda Guimarin, and Chris Tudda scanned the documents and prepared them for on-line publication.

Marc J. Susser
The Historian
Bureau of Public Affairs
August 2008