Volume #17 - 476.|
NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION
NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL MEETING, OTTAWA, SEPTEMBER 15-20, 1951
Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Heads of Posts Abroad
CIRCULAR DOCUMENT NO. A85/51|
November 15th, 1951|
REVIEW OF THE OTTAWA MEETING (THE SEVENTH SESSION) OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL|
I transmit herewith the document listed below.
1. The Seventh Session of the North Atlantic Council meeting in Ottawa met from September 1520, 1951. It is proposed in this paper to give a review, more or less impressionistic, of the Ottawa meeting and to attempt to link it up to recent and prospective NATO developments.
2. The Ottawa meetings differed substantially from previous Council meetings. In the first place, the Ottawa meeting was the first since the reorganization of the committee structure of NATO along the lines proposed by Canada that the three Ministerial Committees (Defence, Finance and Economic, and the then Council of Foreign Ministers) should be consolidated in one body, the Council. The advantages were apparent in the Ottawa meetings; the presence of Foreign, Defence and Finance Ministers, together with their respective advisers, on most delegations meant that the Council tended to be more in the nature of a meeting of governments than a meeting of delegates of governments. Although discussions on particular items tended to be monopolized by those Ministers who would normally deal with it in their respective governments, the fact that a Minister in most cases had two colleagues at hand for consultation tended to permit of more negotiation during the Council sessions, and also to give a Minister's statement in Council more the character of a matured governmental view. Although there were separate meetings of Defence Ministers, of Foreign Ministers, and of Finance Ministers on particular items, these were in the nature of subcommittees which reported back to Council, and any latent tendency towards reestablishing more or less autonomous bodies of Ministers along functional lines was successfully resisted.
3. In the second place, the Ottawa meeting was perhaps less a rubberstamping exercise than several previous Council meetings. Although conclusions reached were generally in line with expectations before the meeting, decisions were taken only after due deliberation. Discussions on the whole were frank and there was little in the way of diplomatic doubletalk. On the other hand, the size of the audience of officials on occasion tended to inhibit discussion on certain of the more delicate issues, and "private" meetings of single Ministers with one or two advisers from each delegation were resorted to.
4. The main issues before the Council were: the admission of Greece and Turkey; discussion of the nonmilitary aspects of NATO; and the establishment of procedures to speed up "closing the gap" in defence.
Greece and Turkey
5. As had been widely forecast, the Council did reach a unanimous decision to recommend the admission of Greece and Turkey, but not without prolonged discussion, and behind the Council doors, the decision did not seem such a foregone conclusion. Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands maintained their grave doubts, expressed previously in the Deputies, about the wisdom of offering Greece and Turkey full membership as the best method of associating them with North Atlantic defence. These countries, and others to a lesser degree, felt that, at least in the shortterm, the association of Greece and Turkey in full membership might weaken the military security of Northern Europe by spreading thin our resources, and might tend to dilute the feeling of community of interest and background underlying the Treaty.
6. In presenting the Canadian point of view, Mr. Pearson expressed our sympathy and substantial agreement with the Danish and Norwegian positions. Canada has recognized the need for forging a closer link between Greece and Turkey and Western defence planning under NATO, but has been conscious of the possible effects which an extension of membership might have on the future of NATO. Canada therefore favoured a very careful examination of the alternative methods of associating Greece and Turkey with Western defence. Our caution was induced in part by the consideration that by setting a precedent for extending membership on military grounds alone, NATO might tend to become a purely military alliance with the result that its broader purposes might be lost sight of. Thus Canada, as the Minister said, would have preferred some nonNATO solution, but at the same time was not opposed to membership for Greece and Turkey if, after an examination of all the alternatives, this proved to be the most desirable solution.
7. It was, of course, clear that any solution other than full membership would be so politically embarrassing as to be impossible. Moreover, it would not meet the agreed views of the Standing Group based on military requirements. The United States and the United Kingdom, who among present NATO countries would have to carry the heaviest load, had committed themselves publicly in favour of membership; and the Turks and the Greeks had indicated that any other solution would be unacceptable.
8. Whether the Netherlands, Danish, and Norwegian governments really hoped to prevent the admission of Greece and Turkey is doubtful. The Danish representatives, however, held out to the last session. But there was evident dislike for the way the proposal had been handled, particularly by the United States which by announcing publicly at an early stage its support had prejudiced a free decision by other members. It was a good opportunity to hint to the United States that it should not happen again although Spain was not mentioned, some delegates no doubt had in mind that Franco might be the next candidate. In reply to rather obvious remarks from Mr. Lange and others about press "leaks", Mr. Acheson made a disarming apology, and there the matter rested.
9. There were, however, real misgivings about the terms of admission, and in particular regarding the Standing Group proposal for establishing a Middle East Command which would include Turkey. These proposals were not put formally before the Council for consideration, since it was not proposed to include the Middle East in a NATO command structure. The issue was primarily military, but it could have a considerable bearing on the degree to which the Turks would, in fact, be committed under the Treaty. Those who objected to the Standing Group proposal felt that Turkey was being offered a special type of membership which assured it of all the advantages, but which might not carry with it all the obligations since Turkey would apparently have only a limited military commitment area. For this reason, the Danish Delegation took the position that command arrangements would have to be settled in a way to ensure that Greece and Turkey would have the same rights and the same obligations as other countries. Canada supported this view on the ground that although Turkey could not be expected to accept second class membership, it could not be granted preferred membership.
10. Mr. Stikker, speaking for the Netherlands, was most anxious that discussions regarding the command arrangements with Greece and Turkey (to be conducted by the U.S., the U.K. and France) should not take place without the knowledge of and consultation with other NATO members. Mr. Acheson, on the other hand, felt that the Turks should not be asked to accept an agreed plan in the formulation of which they played no part. Mr. Stikker persisted but the best he could do was to bow to the Chairman's compromise suggestion that political aspects of the command arrangements would "in due course" be discussed by the Deputies.
11. On the question of how the membership of Greece and Turkey would be brought about, the Americans had drafted a Protocol which they proposed should be signed by the existing members. After ratification, in accordance with the requirements of each country's legislative practice, Greece and Turkey would be invited. The Americans saw advantages in this procedure: uniform action would be taken by all members; and the Protocol would include the necessary amendments to the Treaty to provide for the extension of the territorial limits of the Treaty area.
12. The Italians, however, foresaw difficulties in their Parliament if a new document were presented for ratification. This would give the large Italian Communist opposition a full opportunity to discuss anew the whole North Atlantic Alliance, and for this reason the Italians favoured an interpretive resolution of the Council rather than a formal Protocol. Mr. Schuman shared the Italian misgivings about reopening the question in the Chamber of Deputies but was prepared to support the proposal for a Protocol in view of the opinion of his legal advisers that a formal amendment was necessary. After some editorial changes a Protocol, substantially as drafted by the United States and by the Council, was later signed by the Deputies in London. Delays in ratification, notably by the United States Senate, will however make impossible the formal admission of Greece and Turkey until sometime in the new year. It remains to be seen whether some other formula can be found to permit their representatives to attend the Rome meeting, possibly as observers or as "members designate".
The North Atlantic Community The Committee of Five
13. For some months before the Council meeting there were increasing indications of a growing interest in the nonmilitary aspects of NATO. The Minister had encountered this interest in his discussions with the Foreign Ministers of Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway during his visit to Europe during the summer. Mr. Stikker in particular was concerned with the strain the defence burden was putting on European economies. Under his lead, OEEC produced a declaration late in the summer calling for increased production over the coming fiveyear period to enable the defence effort to be met without reduced standards of living, and it was anticipated that Mr. Stikker might press the Council to endorse this declaration or adopt a similar one. Moreover, the United States for the first time was showing a real interest in Article 2 of the Treaty, and discussions, on the initiative of United States officials, had taken place with Mr. Wilgress in London, with the Embassy in Washington, and with the Department in Ottawa.55 On the initiative of the United States, an item was included in the agenda for the Council meeting in Ottawa.
14. In the negotiation of the Treaty, Canada had been primarily responsible for the inclusion of Article 2. We have felt, however, that defence must have priority over nonmilitary aspects of NATO, and had tended to regard Article 2 as for the time being more in the nature of insurance against action which would prejudice the welfare or free institutions of the Treaty nations rather than as a point of departure for the development of a positive programme. The apparent desire of members to use Article 2 as a basis for a positive programme, however, altered the situation. A hasty exploration at the official level of possibilities failed to indicate any very concrete measures of cooperation which might be developed without tending to make the North Atlantic Community an exclusive entity. A multilateral trading area, for example, was clearly, from Canada's standpoint, preferable to a new North Atlantic preferential area, even if the latter could be attained without violating existing commercial agreements. Nevertheless the need to strengthen the nonmilitary ties between North Atlantic nations was evident if member nations already feeling the burden of defence were not to lose heart. Canada was, therefore, disposed to welcome the proposal to explore the possibilities of developing NATO in its nonmilitary aspects.
15. Early in the Council sessions a subcommittee to consider the problem was set up on a motion of Mr. Acheson. This subcommittee, of which Canada was a member, brought in a report recommending a continuing Ministerial committee of five (Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy) "to consider the further strengthening of the North Atlantic Community, and especially the implementation of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty". In particular, it is to consider and make recommendations to the Council on (a) coordination and frequent consultation on foreign policy; (b) closer economic, financial and social cooperation; and (c) collaboration in the fields of culture and public information.
16. Mr. Pearson, as Chairman of the Council for the present year, will be Chairman of this Committee. Shortly after the Ottawa meeting a working group, under the chairmanship of Mr. A.F.W. Plumptre, Head of the Department's Economic Division, began meetings in London. The Committee was scheduled to meet in Paris before the opening of the General Assembly of the United Nations. A preliminary report of the committee is expected for the Rome meeting.
Gap Closing Committee of Twelve
17. The immediate problem, however, still facing NATO is that of meeting the gap between military requirements under the mediumterm plan and military availabilities. Various NATO bodies have been actively concerned with this problem: the Standing Group has been examining the problem from the standpoint of providing the forces required; the Defence Production Board has been concerned with the production and distribution of adequate military equipment and supplies; the Finance and Economic Board has been conducting an elaborate investigation on burden sharing, which presumably would be a useful guide for distribution of increased defence expenditure. A Working Party representing these various bodies had been set up by the Council Deputies to prepare for the Council meeting a preliminary report which would examine the problem as a whole.
18. It was apparent, however, that not much progress in actual gapfilling was resulting from these paper exercises. For one reason, various European countries were feeling the strain of existing defence burdens and it was evident that some governments, notably the United Kingdom and the French, were likely to send representatives to Ottawa with firm instructions to say that their peoples could do no more than they were doing. The United States Government made known to the Canadian Government, and presumably to all other NATO governments, in advance of the Ottawa meetings that it was prepared to recommend to Congress for 1952-53 and 1953-54 appropriations for mutual aid similar to that for the current year provided there was assurance that other European members would be prepared to meet the remainder of the gap. The implication was that a vigorous effort to attain this goal must be made by other governments. There was, however, a feeling in some quarters that the requirements laid down by the military authorities were perhaps unnecessarily high and might in some cases be reduced. It was apparent also that there was substantial unused capacity for production in Europe and it was possible that by better coordination of national procurement programmes more efficient use could be made of productive resources throughout the NATO area.
There was a feeling also in some quarters that certain governments were not honouring fully their existing commitments under the mediumterm plan.
19. In the light of these circumstances, the United States Government before the NATO Council meeting informed the Canadian Government (and presumably other NATO governments) that it hoped that the Ottawa meeting would see fit to establish a special committee of distinguished persons enjoying the full confidence of their respective governments to prepare a special report for the next meeting of the Council after Ottawa recommending ways and means of filling the gap. The reports of the various NATO bodies presented in the Ottawa meeting afforded an opportunity to put forward this proposal. It was not, however, thrown into the Council meeting without "private" discussions beforehand of one or two Ministers from each delegation.
20. The original intentions of the United States Government appear to have been a committee of the "Big Three" with authority to make recommendations about further contributions to defence. Canadian representatives viewed this proposal with considerable apprehension. It was felt that an economic and financial "Standing Group" would be quite undesirable since other governments might be faced with programmes about which they had not been properly consulted. It was recognized of course that all NATO members might have to do more than they had so far promised, but it was felt that any additional burdens could only be accepted after appropriate negotiation. Other nonStanding Group members of NATO were generally of much the same view. After much discussion, largely in "private" sessions between the Ministers concerned, a Committee of Twelve was ultimately agreed upon. This committee was to elect a Chairman and one or more ViceChairmen who would together constitute an Executive Bureau. It was clearly understood that when the "Executive Bureau" was examining the defence programme of any member of NATO that member's representative would be present. Committee recommendations applying to any particular member would, therefore, likely have to have that member's prior concurrence. Moreover, the Committee was clearly labelled "temporary"; by inference, it was to be no financial and economic Standing Group.
21. The Committee was promptly appointed after the Ottawa meeting and has been meeting in Paris under the chairmanship of Mr. Harriman, the U.S. representative, Mr. Abbott is the Canadian member. Other governments for the most part are represented by their Finance Ministers. It has called for statistical reports on economics and finance from each member as well as reports on military programmes. Its procedure is to examine each report in the presence of the representative of the country concerned. After examination of the report it is anticipated that there will be a stage of negotiation on each country's defence programme between the Executive Bureau and the Committee member of that country. It is hoped that the Committee's report will be available for the Rome meeting.
22. In some respects, the Ottawa meeting marked a change in emphasis from longrange planning to consideration of immediate readiness to meet armed aggression. The lead was taken by Mr. Shinwell in the Session in which reports were being made on national defence programmes. Mr. Shinwell pointed to the fact that while members were concerned, and rightly so, with programmes under the mediumterm plan, there was no very clear indication of the readiness of NATO members to meet aggression, either singly or collectively, in the present or immediate future. He therefore asked his colleagues for a firm and detailed statement as to existing effectives, training programmes, and readiness for battle. Mr. Shinwell proposed a private session of defence ministers in which these could speak frankly to one another Mr. Shinwell it was noticed could not avoid looking across the table at his French colleague as he said this. After a preliminary discussion, Mr. Shinwell's request was granted but with no very great increase in frankness in discussion. From the meeting, however, there emerged a directive to the Military Committee to prepare for the next meeting of Council an estimate of the relative strengths and capabilities of NATO forces and Soviet bloc forces, in being and in the immediate future. The Council Deputies were requested to provide a similar estimate on industrial and economic resources, and the Defence Production Board was directed to keep careful note of arms contracts actually placed. This shift in emphasis does not of course lessen need for meeting future requirements under the mediumterm plan. It does, however, represent a shift from consideration of paper programmes to consideration as well of actual readiness to resist aggression.
23. Three other matters of substantial importance discussed by Council are worth noting: the German contribution to Western defence; the organization of the military side of NATO; and infrastructure.
24. As had been expected the Big Three reported on the progress they had made in their tripartite discussions in Washington on the German situation. The Council received official word that the Occupation Statute would be replaced by an equitable contract to give greater autonomy to Germany. On the question of the European Army, Mr. Schuman announced that the Pleven Plan had been accepted in principle by the Germans and he hoped would shortly become a reality. Mr. Acheson gave full United States support to the Plan, as did Mr. Morrison for the United Kingdom, and the hope was expressed that the question of German contributions to Western defence could now be settled at the Rome meeting of the Council.
25. At the time of the reorganization of the Council, the reorganization of the military side was left over for consideration by the military authorities. It was Canada's view, as expressed in the Canadian paper which began consideration of Council reorganization, that effective authority on the military side should be vested in the Military Committee which is, in fact, a Committee of the Chiefs of Staff of the member nations. It was felt further that the Military Representatives Committee should be in effect a Chiefs of Staff Deputies' Committee which would be constantly in session or available for consultation by the Standing Group. It followed as a corollary that any advice on military matters that might be sought by the Council Deputies would be given by the Military Committee, or the Military Representatives Committee, rather than by the Standing Group. It was hoped too that the Standing Group would develop any new proposals affecting member nations by appropriate consultation at the working level with the country or countries concerned so that member nations not on the Standing Group would not be presented with plans listing for them military requirements about which they had not been consulted. On this point, Mr. Claxton took occasion to hint broadly to Council that the Canadian Government was not entirely happy about the existing practice of the Standing Group. The question of military reorganization was discussed at some length in the Council. The final result was that the Military Committee was instructed to comment at the Rome meeting on proposals already made for the reorganization of the NATO military structure.
26. With regard to infrastructure, that is fixed defence facilities in Western Europe for common use, discussion on financial arrangements had been almost deadlocked for months, the United States urging financing on the "user" principle, and the United Kingdom on the principle of "capacity to pay". At Ottawa an agreement was reached with regard to financing the "second slice", that is airfields and communication facilities on which construction is to begin in 1951. The plan agreed to provides for contributions on a more or less arbitrary basis. Canada supported this plan, which did not require very substantial increases in Canada's contribution over the figure already approved by Cabinet as an appropriate Canadian contribution. However, the plan was declared to be without precedent for later "slices" of infrastructure .56
27. Publicity, as usual in international conferences of a secret nature, proved to be a difficult problem. At the first closed session of the Council, the President suggested that the agenda might be made public and the press might be kept informed, presumably through the procedure of press conferences by the Secretariat and the Chairman, as fully as possible of the daytoday progress of the meetings. He hoped thereby to do some useful propaganda work for the Organization and to satisfy the swarm of reporters who had gathered in Ottawa. Mr. Acheson took the line that the confidential nature of the meetings should be preserved as fully as possible and that in consequence information to the press should be confined to a final communique. He was specifically against publication of the agenda. These views temporarily prevailed. The next day, however, the agenda appeared in the New York Tines, almost comma for comma. The NATO Secretariat, particularly the Information Service, it is understood, took up the cause of the press, and the result was a change in policy to permit daily briefing sessions by an Information Officer. These were very well done, and the Press seemed reasonably satisfied. All delegations apparently also held briefing sessions from time to time.
28. The result was that the press got perhaps an undue amount of information of a highly classified nature. However, public knowledge and support of NATO is imperative, and there was probably more good than harm from these developments. Be that as it may, at the last session there were some candid observations on publicity and the Deputies were directed to prepare publicity rules for the guidance of future meetings. The problem is twofold: that of preventing the leakage of information which might endanger military security, and that of providing sufficient publicity to secure public support of NATO and of the defence budgets which the achievement of adequate defence entails. This suggests that the problem might better be solved by a reclassification of the subject matter of the agenda rather than by vain attempts to tighten security on everything.
29. Something should be said about the administrative arrangements. This was the largest and most important international conference ever held in Canada, and everything was done to assure efficiency and convenience. Without question, the facilities provided were the most adequate, and the arrangements the most satisfactory for any NATO Council meeting to date. Parliament was not sitting so it was possible to use the Centre Block for meetings and members' rooms for office space for the delegations. The public opening meeting was held in the Commons' Chamber, and the closed sessions in the Railway Committee Room. NATO security regulations and practices are very elaborate, perhaps unduly so, but there was little choice in the matter. Security regulations were accordingly strict, and security guards in smart Service uniforms were everywhere. If the press found cause for merrymaking, the visiting delegations were most favourably impressed. A loudspeaker system, with arrangements for consecutive translation, was set up in advance, but on the first day it became clear that if the agenda was to be completed on time, simultaneous translation facilities, which had not been the rule at NATO meetings, were required. The Army accordingly arranged to install a simultaneous translation system over the weekend. Equipment was picked up at various defence stations across Canada, or borrowed from local radio stations. When the Council reconvened on Monday morning, the system was ready for use. This contributed enormously to speeding up proceedings, and it evoked enthusiastic compliments from the visitors who were most generous in their approval of all the arrangements.
30. The Council agreed that more frequent and more regular meetings of Council was desirable. It was understood that the next meeting would be in Rome, in accordance with the wishes of the Italian Government. Although no date was set, it was generally agreed that a meeting before the General Assembly of the United Nations in Paris was desirable. It subsequently developed that the Committee of Twelve would be unable to complete a report this early, and a decision was finally taken to bold the next Council meeting November 24.
55 Voir le document 477./See Document 477.
56 La contribution du Canada. que
le Cabinet a notée avec approbation, le 3 octobre 1951, s'élevait à 3 500 000 £.