Volume #23 - 449.|
ITALY: VISIT OF PRESIDENT GIOVANNI GRONCHI, MARCH 3-5, 1956
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
December 30th, 1955|
VISIT TO CANADA OF THE PRESIDENT OF ITALY,
SIGNOR GIOVANNI GRONCHI|
I am attaching for your signature, if you approve, a memorandum for the Prime Minister recommending that the President of Italy be invited to visit Canada immediately before or after his visit to Washington, February 28, 29 and March 1. In view of the increasing burden of these visits and of the importance of extending this particular invitation, I have gone to some length to set out the reasons for your recommendation.
2. Our Ambassador in Rome has reported that two Italian newspapers have already published despatches from their Washington correspondents stating that President Gronchi will visit Canada as well as the United States. In the absence of any indication of our intentions these newspaper reports are causing our Ambassador some embarrassment. We refrained from raising this question at an earlier date because our invitation could not anticipate one from the United States, because the United States had not decided on a date for the visit there and because it did not seem desirable for a Canadian invitation to appear as an automatic echo of United States initiative. We are preparing a telegram? instructing our Ambassador in Rome to approach President Gronchi's Chief of Protocol in order to find out whether an invitation would be welcomed. This telegram will be forwarded for your consideration if you and the Prime Minister approve this proposal.76
Projet d'une note du secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
Draft Memorandum from Secretary of State for External Affairs
VISIT TO CANADA OF THE PRESIDENT OF ITALY,
It has been announced that the President of Italy will pay a state visit to Washington on February 28, 29 and March 1, 1956. Our Ambassador in Rome has suggested that there would be political advantages to be gained by extending an invitation to Signor Gronchi to visit Canada. He has pointed out that President Gronchi has frequently been reported as leaning to the left and the Soviet Union is said to have made discreet soundings in Rome to find out whether Signor Gronchi would accept an invitation to visit Moscow. Our Ambassador has suggested that it would be wise if, before going to Russia, the President were to visit a few NATO capitals.
2. Although I recognize the desirability of curtailing the number of official visits to Ottawa, particularly during the very busy winter season, there are a number of compelling reasons for extending an invitation to President Gronchi:
(a) A visit to Canada as well as to the United States by the President of Italy would be in line with our efforts to achieve closer political consultation among NATO countries. Moreover, the Italian Government has been insisting on a voice in Western consultations concerning such problems as negotiations with the Soviet Union, disarmament and the Middle Eastern situation. A visit to Canada by President Gronchi would probably be interpreted in Italy as recognition here of the importance of Italy in Western planning and of close international political co-ordination with a NATO ally.
(b) Italy is exposed to strong external and internal pressures to adopt a more neutral foreign policy. Externally, Italy has many close neighbours who follow a policy of neutrality and some of whom proclaim that their neutrality is the key to an East-West détente and international peace. Internally, the powerful Italian Communist Party is striving to persuade the electorate that a more neutral foreign policy would be advantageous. The President's visit to the United States and Canada would provide the Italian Government with further evidence of close collaboration with Italy's NATO allies which could be used to counteract these neutralist forces.
(c) General elections will be held in Italy during 1956 and the precarious political position of the present center coalition Government under Prime Minister Segni would be bolstered by evidence that its foreign policies have enhanced Italy's prestige and given her recognition as a first-rate international power. Recently the Italian Communists and their left-wing Socialist allies have been taking full advantage of the more fluid international situation to win domestic support. They have been voting with the Government on many issues in an attempt to acquire an appearance of respectability and to persuade left-of-centre Christian Democrats to rely on their support rather than that of the right-of-centre members of the coalition Government. President Gronchi's visit may be one of the very few opportunities to influence the Italian political situation without appearing to intervene in that country's internal affairs.
(d) Signor Gronchi has considerable political influence in Italy and he is known to favour an opening to the left in order to attract the left wing Nenni Socialists into a Government coalition. Undoubtedly considerable pressure will be exerted in the United States to persuade him that there would be dangerous international repercussions to any domestic policies that might alienate Italy's Western allies, particularly if this involved any weakening of Italian support for NATO. A visit to Canada following the visit to Washington might take the edge off this pressure while at the same time reinforcing the underlying argument.
(e) If President Gronchi were to visit the United States and not be invited to Canada there would be speculation concerning the reasons for our reticence. Speculation of this kind might have an undesirable affect on our relations with both Italy and the United States. On the other hand, President Gronchi would probably be welcomed in Canada with the same enthusiasm that was shown when the former Prime Minister of Italy, Signor Mario Scelba, visited Canada in March, 1955.
3. For all of these reasons I would strongly recommend that the President of Italy be invited to visit Canada either before or after his visit to the United States depending on the most convenient date. So far as I know, there are no other events which would conflict with a state visit on the proposed dates. If you agree, I will instruct our Ambassador in Rome to find out whether a visit would be feasible.