28. Message From President Nixon to West German Chancellor Brandt 1

July 30, 1973

Dear Mr. Chancellor:

I appreciated having your message of July 18 with your comments on the Copenhagen meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Nine. I agree that a certain degree of progress was made in the sense that the Europeans now appear prepared to deal with some of the substantive aspects of the Atlantic relationship.

At the same time, I must in all candor express to you my surprise at the approach that has emerged from the European deliberations. Three months after our initiative, and after numerous discussions which at European request we conducted on a bilateral basis, we now find that the Europeans are unwilling to discuss substantive issues with us until mid-September. After a number of European governments, including [Page 134] yours, had assured us that they would present us with their substantive views in response to ours, the Europeans have now decided to withhold these views until they have first prepared a collective position among themselves through discussions from which we are excluded. The intention, as I understand it, is then to present this collective view to us and thereafter to conduct the exchanges by means whereby we are asked to deal with instructed European representatives. I must honestly tell you that I find it astonishing that an endeavor whose purpose was to create a new spirit of Atlantic solidarity and whose essence should have been that it was collaborative at all stages should now be turned almost into a European-American confrontation.

In these circumstances, you should know that we will take no further initiative in either bilateral or multilateral forums but will await the product of the Nine in September and then decide whether and how to proceed. Our decision will be influenced first by the nature of the document that emerges and secondly whether the procedure for the subsequent European-American dialogue is consistent with a cooperative rather than an adversary approach to U.S.-European relations.

Let me say now, however, that I have reached the following conclusions regarding my proposed trip to Europe: I will not come to Europe unless there is a result commensurate with the need for strengthening Atlantic relationships. I cannot consider meetings in multilateral forums in which my European colleagues do not find it possible to participate. I do not believe that it will serve the purpose envisaged in our initiative and, I thought, agreed between us when you were here in May, for me to sign communiqués in Europe not signed also by other heads of government.

I wanted you to be aware of these views so that there will be no misunderstanding between us. I will of course be pleased to have your further views on these matters.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Nixon
  1. Summary: Nixon expressed his disappointment in the EC response to the Year of Europe.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 754, Presidential Correspondence, Germany, Willy Brandt 1972 (1 of 3). Secret; Immediate. A subsequent message to Brandt, WH31880, July 31, corrected the first line of Nixon’s message to read, “I appreciated having your message of July 27 with your.” (Ibid.) In backchannel message WH31856 to Brandt, July 18, Nixon discussed Scheel’s July 12 visit to Washington, the Year of Europe, recent press stories about U.S.–USSR and U.S.-West European relations, and the importance of Western solidarity. (Ibid., Box 424, Backchannel Messages, Europe, 1973) In a July 27 message to Nixon, Brandt asserted that the EC Foreign Ministers meeting represented “an encouraging step forward” in the process of defining “the relationship between the United States and uniting Western Europe;” he noted, however, that this definition could not “be completed until Europe has assumed its final form.” (Ibid.)