1. Memorandum From Paula Dobriansky of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Allen)1


  • Our Foreign Policy Toward Eastern Europe (S)

A week and a half ago, I attended a meeting at the State Department on U.S.-Hungarian relations.2 In discussing and assessing the state of U.S.-Hungarian relations in particular and U.S.-East European relations in general, two points were made: a) Up to the present time, great strides have been made economically and culturally in U.S.-Hungarian relations and in our relations with Eastern Europe. b) However, concern exists not only in Hungary but in the other East European countries as to what this Administration’s policy will be toward the Soviet Union and toward Eastern Europe. It was generally hoped that U.S. policy toward Eastern Europe would be clarified in the next several months. (S)

Hence, this meeting prompted me to set forth my recommendations as to what critical considerations should be kept in mind in devising our policy toward Eastern Europe. (S)

First, we need to determine what our conceivable objectives in Eastern Europe should be. In formulating our goals we must examine the following interrelated considerations:

East European relations with the Soviet Union: Clearly, we cannot expect the East Europeans to disassociate themselves considerably from the Soviet Union given the geopolitical realities. However, a distinction must be made between the active support rendered by such countries as East Germany and Bulgaria to Soviet policies in the Third World and the actions of such countries as Romania and Yugoslavia which do not [Page 2] support extensively Soviet ventures and foreign policies. For U.S. interests, the latter is quite preferable to the former.
East European relations with the U.S.: The economic, political, military and cultural achievements we have made with each East European country should be examined and assessed. That is, military or economic agreements signed, visits made, tacit support of our policies and the frequency of cultural and scientific exchanges should all be evaluated and accounted for in determining the progress we have made vis-a-vis each East European country and those areas that can or should be pursued further.
East European foreign policies: Consideration must be given to those policies these countries pursue in the U.N. and other international organizations, the non-aligned movement, and other international fora. What is noteworthy is not how verbally supportive of the Soviet Union the East Europeans are, but the actual policies they adhere to. We cannot expect these countries to be outright supportive of U.S. interests, but we should distinguish between those countries with compatible interests and policies advocated and those countries which are palpably anti-Western. It is the degree and tone of East European policies and statements which must be deciphered. Moreover, their alliances and relations with both pro-Western and anti-Western Third World countries must be analyzed.
East European domestic policies: Internal East European policies on human rights, terrorism, religion, and economics should be reviewed as well. Yet, it should be recognized that these considerations are subordinate to those set forth above. (S)

Second, and more broadly, we need to assess and formulate our goals within the framework of U.S.-Soviet-West European relations. That is, any East European policies devised cannot be developed devoid of consideration of overall U.S.-Soviet relations, Soviet-West European relations, and East-West European relations. Hence, if a situation arises which demands a change in our East European policies, such a change should be implemented even if specific East European considerations do not warrant it. Note that such a change can either worsen or improve our relations with Eastern Europe. Currently, this situation is not likely to occur, but given West European and Soviet perceptions of Eastern Europe, it cannot be ruled out. (S)

Both Western Europe and the Soviet Union attach considerable importance to their relations with Eastern Europe. Soviet goals in Eastern Europe are primarily static—they want to maintain things the way they currently are and avoid notable changes unless absolutely necessary. Clearly, the Soviets would not want to acquiesce to any diminution of their control in Eastern Europe, no matter what the costs are. (S)

West Europeans are interested in having close political and economic relations with Eastern Europe which they consider to be culturally and historically part of greater Europe despite the current communist regimes. [Page 3] The West Europeans are interested in a process of change, wherein the East Europeans would pull closer to Western Europe and distance themselves from the Soviets, albeit slowly and cautiously. However, the West Europeans do not desire any violent upheavals in Eastern Europe. (S)

Proposed Objectives

I maintain that after having assessed the above considerations, our prime objective in Eastern Europe would be twofold: a) foster continued good relations and encourage further economic, political, military, cultural developments—as determined on a country-by-country basis; b) sway the applicable East European countries not to disassociate themselves outright from the Soviet Union or conduct policies at odds with the Soviet Union, but also not to render active support for the Soviets in the international arena. Concomitantly, we should utilize to an extent our advantageous relationship with some of the East Europeans in our policy pursuits vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. (S)

Proposed Policy

Based on our objectives we should pursue a two-tiered policy of differentiation within the overall framework of U.S.-Soviet-West European relations—differentiate among the East European countries (1) those countries which have and have not developed more or less good overall relations with the U.S., and (2) those that are and are not affected by the state of U.S.-Soviet relations. That is, a distinction must be made between those countries which are closely aligned with Moscow’s policies and those which manifest moderately aberrant political behavior. By pursuing such a policy, we leave room to further develop our relations with those East European countries more open to Western involvement and yet, can discriminate and penalize those countries which closely adhere to the Moscow line. (S)


In addition to the State Department assessments being tasked by the East-West interdepartmental group of 1) our past policies/developments and future relations with each East European country, 2) the degrees of internal liberalization and Westernization in Eastern Europe, and 3) how we can exploit East European economic problems to enhance our influence vis-a-vis Moscow, I propose that I:

Examine in detail Soviet-West European preceptions of and interests in Eastern Europe.3
Analyze those West European and Soviet factors that could conceivably alter our East European policies.4 (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Paula J. Dobriansky Files, Europe, Eastern (General) (1). Secret. Sent for action.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. This recommendation was neither approved, nor disapproved.
  4. This recommendation was neither approved, nor disapproved.