185. Telegram From the Embassy in Romania to the Department of State1

7631. Subj: GOR’s Campaign for Multi-Year MFN. Ref: Bucharest 6891.2

1. Summary: During Counselor Nimetz’s visit in Romania, he met with three high-level GOR officials who, each in his fashion, issued a clear signal that the Romanians intend to launch a full-blown campaign for the eventual achievement of multi-year Most Favored Nation treatment. President Ceausescu has clearly put this issue at the head of his list of priorities in terms of US–GOR economic relations. The point man in this campaign will be Deputy Prime Minister Patan who is scheduled to visit Washington, October 27–November 3. The culmination of this phase of the campaign would logically occur with the Ceausescu visit. Meanwhile we need to think out how best to achieve our own interests. End of summary.

2. The Government of Romania’s serious intent to attempt to achieve the extension of Most Favored Nation treatment for longer than one year at a time was clearly and repeatedly expressed in conversations held with Counselor Nimetz in the course of his visit to Romania, October 10–12. Foreign Minister Macovescu said that it was politically important to avoid an annual debate in Congress which tends to be treated as an open invitation for a debate focusing on any topic whether or not it has any direct bearing on US–GOR economic relations. He said that if it appears now to be politically impractical or unwise to attempt to separate out the Romanian case from the 1974 Trade Act, some provision should be found which would permit that the congressional review take place only every three years. Noting that the Foreign Minister was even more familiar with the MFN issue than he was, the Counselor pointed out that emigration performance was bound to be important, especially in coming months, as we assess it on a bi-annual basis. Anything GOR could do to make this performance [Page 553] attractive, especially with regard to emigration to Israel, would be helpful.3

3. RCP CC Secretary for International Affairs Stefan Andrei noted October 10 that U.S. was surely aware both of Rom desire for more ample relations and of President Ceausescu’s desire to get away from the annual review of the MFN clause; the President’s argument that we need a more stable basis for the whole relationship strengthened this desire, Andrei said. Counselor replied that it is difficult to be optimistic about short-term prospects. Multi-year review would be a serious matter in the Congress, as most recent annual extension had not been, and it would be necessary to lay the groundwork very carefully. Acceleration of the process of good relations between the two countries and a demonstration to our public that progress on human rights is possible here would be the kinds of developments needed. It is important to continue to consult on these matters.4

4. In Nimetz’s meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Patan on October 11, Patan stressed the peculiarity of the Romanian fate, pointing out that it was the single country which had concluded an arrangement under the provisions of the Trade Act of 1974 for Most Favored Nation treatment. By doing so, Romania had set a sort of example for those states which were and remain highly skeptical that any satisfactory accommodation on this issue can be reached with the United States. Patan stressed that the example set by the GOR should be a more positive model. There are diplomatic representatives in Bucharest, who, having advised against the GOR entering into the agreement with the USG concerning MFN, are now saying, quote, I told you so, end quote.

5. In October 12 meeting, FornMin Macovescu was somewhat less elliptical in comments on annual review process.5 As Foreign Minister he wished to give the political viewpoint, he said: It is important from all points of view to avoid the kinds of things that happen during the [Page 554] annual renewal. If discussion were normal, on the substance of U.S.-Romanian economic relations, this would be fine, but what is actually discussed is neither to Romania’s advantage nor to that of the U.S. Romania is not afraid to confront serious issues but needs to know what it is doing so far. On Transylvania, quote, we know whom we should discuss it with, end quote, and have all sorts of arguments at our disposal, but the U.S. Congress is not the place to talk about rights or non-rights in Transylvania. Both the U.S. and Romania can live without such discussion and, after all, we entered into the trade agreement from other motives.6

6. Counselor responded that U.S. citizens are free to raise any topic which interests them in such congressional hearings, but that what Macovescu had called the Transylvanian problem is not a problem for us; it is a Romanian domestic affair. Like Mexican-Americans and other Americans of foreign descent, Americans of Hungarian descent sometimes like to consider the cultural affairs of their country of origin their own, but we do not consider that this has political significance. During the last renewal period there were not many questions on the topic in the Congress. From time to time members of Congress are given papers and speeches to read, but these should not be overrated; at times we have the impression that only the GOR reads them. Cultural diversity in the sense defined by the Helsinki Final Act is a valid topic of discourse, but this is a very general proposition. Using the example of putting Spanish on the ballot and in the schools of New York City, Counselor noted that Americans are used to discussing these issues and expressed view that Hungarian-American thinking should not be considered at any other level.

7. Macovescu concluded discussion by noting that Romania has a public opinion, too, and while it may not be as “tough” as ours, GOR officials can still be asked uncomfortable questions—such as what possible link there is between Transylvania and a trade agreement—in Parliament. Transylvania is not a problem for Romania, but it may be a problem in bilateral relations; it would be wrong to ignore issues which seem small today but which may be important tomorrow, “in both directions.”

8. Counselor indicated in his conversations that these issues would continue to be studied in Washington, and GOR interlocutors expressed [Page 555] appreciation for his willingness to listen and for frank responses, showing that he was thinking seriously about the problem.

9. Comment: Romanians clearly saw Counselor’s visit as Bucharest opener for process leading up to Ceausescu’s visit in the spring, and Patan’s upcoming trip will be opener in U.S. just as clearly, multi-year MFN review will be the repeat the central issue in preparing successful Presidential visit. Macovescu’s frank references to Transylvania also suggest political context in which Romanians see these matters, and Department may wish to consider next steps in U.S.-Hungarian relations in this context as well as broader Soviet-EE framework.

10. As Ambassador discussed with Counselor, we feel it important to keep bearing in mind our own interests—both political and commercial—in achieving a more solid long term relationship with Romania. Patan’s visit should be used to further the process of helping GOR to understand the context in which multi-year MFN might become possible. In fact the pre-Ceausescu visit period needs to be thought of in terms of how we can best make use of the Romanian push for a revised MFN status.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770380–1259. Confidential. Also sent to Budapest.
  2. In telegram 6891 from Bucharest, September 19, the Embassy reported on a September 14 conversation between Barnes and Patan. Despite understanding the challenges multi-year MFN for Romania would have to overcome, Patan made clear “GOR will persist in discussing here and in D.C. the desirability of multi-year review and continue to explore modalities, direct and indirect, for attaining their objective.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770340–0145)
  3. In telegram 7677 from Bucharest, October 18, the Embassy reported on Nimetz’s discussions of bilateral issues with Gliga and Macovescu, including the proposed Ceausescu visit to Washington, other high-level exchanges, arms control, and scientific and cultural exchanges. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770382–0169)
  4. In telegram 7726 from Bucharest, October 19, the Embassy reported that Andrei told Nimetz that Communist parties in the West are in the process of establishing an independent line, with the strongest parties having a special role. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770385–0502)
  5. Nimetz also discussed international issues with Macovescu during their meeting. In telegram 7602 from Bucharest, October 14, the Embassy reported Macovescu’s assertion to Nimetz that the joint U.S.-Soviet declaration preoccupied Romania, and that Bucharest was wary of any agreements between the superpowers which might infringe on its sovereignty. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770378–0592) In telegram 7655 from Bucharest, the Embassy reported Macovescu’s summary to Nimetz of the Romanian position on the Middle East and his conversations with Israeli Foreign Minister Dayan. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770380–1259)
  6. In his September 29 meeting with Vance in New York at the UNGA, reported to Bucharest in telegram 238769, October 4, Macovescu had made a similar pitch. The Romanian Foreign Minister pressed for de-coupling issues such as human rights and emigration from the review of “a trade agreement.” Vance suggested that multi-year review could be discussed, but that too would require legislation. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770362–1086)