29. Message From West German Chancellor Brandt to President Nixon1

[Omitted here is the German text of the message.]

Dear Mr. President,

I thank you for your telegram of 30 July.

In spite of all difficulties we may still incur, it is an advantage that we are now engaged in a stage of consultations on how to confirm the Alliance and to outline the relationship between the United States and unifying Western Europe. In fact, when the United States took the initiative to proclaim 1973 the Year of Europe and to define the new relationship between Americans and West Europeans there had been no preparatory consultations.

I see a connection between the view—which I share—that an Atlantic declaration must have substance, and the need to allow all concerned enough time for deliberation, consultation and decision.

In our April/May talks I suggested that the United States should, in the common interest, proceed as if the European Community had already achieved a firmer structure. The Nine are in the very difficult stage of learning how to find their way to a common line on major political questions in spite of existing national interests.

I can understand your finding certain aspects of this learning process irksome, for instance the time it is taking. But I think it would be wrong for the United States, having for so long called upon the Europeans to speak with one voice, to feel left out when the Nine try to reach agreement among themselves.

I am convinced, and this I wish to give strong emphasis, that this process will not in any way change the feeling of solidarity and the sim[Page 136]ilarity of interests in the field of security between the European and American partners in the Atlantic Alliance.

I also feel that the time up to mid-September will not by any means be lost. The United States will not, after discussions among the Nine have been successfully concluded, have to speak to instructed representatives, let alone in the sense of any confrontation. On the contrary, it is now a matter of defining, in compliance with previous American wishes, what the Europeans really want. In other words, the working papers drawn up by your administration should now be juxtaposed with one drafted by the European governments.

I fully appreciate your standpoint that you want to know the result of the European consultations before your say anything more on your further action.

However, I am still of the opinion that in view of the forthcoming major East-West conferences, and following Mr. Brezhnev’s historic visit to the United States, it would be expedient to hold a summit conference of NATO states before the end of the year. An official step by the American President proposing a summit conference to the Alliance would be positively supported by me. The result of such a conference should go beyond a communiqué, it should serve the adoption of an Atlantic declaration.

I need not emphasize, Mr. President, that—whatever the framework of other meetings—you will always be welcome in Bonn and Berlin.

At present it is hardly possible to say within what framework a meeting with the nine can take place. The various possibilities have already been discussed in Washington and Copenhagen. The only one which seems to me to be ruled out so far is that of a joint meeting of NATO and EC members, since Ireland for one would be against it for understandable reasons.

And it is still not possible to decide what kind of release should conclude a meeting between the Community and the American President. However, I would prefer a communiqué—provided a detailed Atlantic declaration were agreed upon. I also have in mind that the problems between the EC and the United States are in part very complicated, so that we can hardly expect solutions to be decided upon this year. What we want least of all is a European-American dispute that would come through to the public. For this reason I would prefer a more modest, common denominator to an ambitious, but controversial, project. I agree with you that there should be no misunderstandings between us, which is why I have replied to you in detail.

With warm regards,

Willy Brandt
  1. Summary: Brandt replied to Nixon’s July 30 message on the EC response to the Year of Europe.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 61, Country Files, Europe, General, German Exchange (3 of 3). Secret; Immediate; Annex Charlie. Nixon’s July 30 message was transmitted July 31, and is published as Document 28. In message WH31904 to Brandt, August 11, Nixon stated that his concern was not with the creation of a common European position, but the process by which it would be achieved, such that “our allies will no longer be engaged in a joint Atlantic process but in a negotiation between the United States, on the one hand, and the EC Nine on the other.” Nixon, asserting that the U.S. was “not the supplicant in the Year of Europe,” expressed his hope that they could “bring this project to a successful conclusion as partners” and noted that Brandt’s message led him “to believe that this is still possible.” (Ibid., NSC Files, Box 754, Presidential Correspondence, Germany, Willy Brandt 1972 (1 of 3))