Volume #25 - 507.|
EASTERN EUROPE AND THE SOVIET UNION
BULGANIN LETTERS AND SUMMIT MEETING PROPOSAL
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
January 2nd, 1958|
BULGANIN'S LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER19|
No decision was taken at the Nato heads of government meeting about the timing of replies to the letters sent by Mr. Bulganin; the Nato Council will however discuss the Bulganin letters in its meeting of January 8. If you agree, I should like to provide our Nato delegation before then with a general indication of the character and tone of the reply we are likely to make and with some of the points we may include. I propose, therefore, to set forth in this memorandum the suggestions which have been drawn up as a result of discussions within the Department. If you approve of these proposals we shall make them available to our Nato delegation and other interested missions as a basis for discussion.
2. General Principles — We should place emphasis on the declaration and communiqué20of the Nato meeting since these constitute the latest expression of common views and were formulated after the arrival of the Bulganin letters. There are, however, a sufficient number of aspects which relate to the Canadian situation and experience to enable us to prepare a reply which is not simply a facsimile of other replies that will be made. I think our letter should contain a large measure of purely Canadian content.
3. On the broader issues which affect the main negotiating position of the West, particularly on disarmament, it would not be appropriate for Canada to imply that it was initiating negotiations unilaterally. However, there would, I feel, be no harm in displaying a certain amount of Canadian initiative to the extent of showing a readiness to obtain by means of diplomatic discussions here and in Moscow clarification and amplification of some of the proposals Bulganin has made. We could discuss this point in the Nato Council ahead of time and indicate that we hope as much contact as possible will be established with the Russians by member countries through diplomatic channels for the purpose of securing further information on the proposals and of evaluating Soviet intentions. It is particularly important to determine what degree of flexibility or concession the Russians are willing to display. We think it is desirable, however, that the positions taken in any discussions of disarmament which individual countries may have with the Russians, should have as a basis the agreed Western proposals, and the degree of flexibility shown should be that contained in the Nato communiqué.
4. If ultimately Nato countries feel that a more flexible approach towards the Russians should be adopted in the light of information derived from our combined contacts with them, we should indicate our views privately to our allies for the purpose of determining what measure of agreement can be reached. If Nato countries were to support any such modified view, the U.S. representatives would have to be principally involved. If progress were made, the stage might be reached where the Nato Council would wish to ask U.S. representatives to talk to the Russians and report back to the Council. Meanwhile we feel that Canada should avoid giving the impression that it would be ready to carry on individual negotiations with the USSR lest this make it appear that opinion within the alliance is divided. Any action Canada takes towards achieving a more flexible approach should be aimed in the first instance at influencing U.S. authorities rather than at establishing any special relationship with the Russians in this field.
5. It was apparent at the recent NATO Ministerial Meeting that while most governments felt that a gesture should be made to public opinion by offering a meeting with the Russians at Foreign Minister level, only the Scandinavian countries and ourselves were convinced that a more flexible approach might be advisable at this stage. There could therefore be no assurance that we would receive support from our Allies for a more flexible approach. There is however some indication that the United States may eventually be disposed to adopt a more flexible attitude to disarmament. Their proposal at the recent NATO meeting for the establishment of a Technical Group to advise on problems of arms control arising out of new technical developments would seem to indicate that some new approach on disarmament may be envisaged. We have not, however, any real evidence of United States intentions with regard to this new body.
6. Assuming that the NATO Council was in accord with these ideas, conversations might be held from time to time between our Ambassador in Moscow and Mr. Gromyko and between yourself and the Soviet Ambassador here on some of these matters of common concern. I am thinking in particular of the Soviet suggestion for cessation of nuclear tests and for establishment of a zone in central Europe, free of nuclear weapons.21 These are complicated problems and ones which are of great importance to our allies and ourselves. We would not commit ourselves in any final way and we would, of course, keep our Nato friends fully informed. But if contact is to be established with the USSR and tension reduced, bilateral discussions are necessary. In our reply, therefore, I think we could show a readiness to obtain amplification of these two suggestions. This would be in conformity with the willingness expressed in the Nato Declaration to examine any proposal from whatever source for general or partial disarmament.
7. Specific Nato Topics — While not going out of our way to speak for the major powers we should, I think, have a general passage in our reply on Nato with particular reference to the heads of government meeting.
8. Mr. Wilgress has suggested in a telegram† that our reply should expand upon the general line of the Nato communiqué. We would like to see some slight progress made beyond the communiqué — and bilateral discussions may make this possible — but in general we agree that where Bulganin dealt with Nato or touched on matters of interest to all, the Nato communiqué should be taken as a guide.
9. I do not think it will be worthwhile to take up all the points raised by Bulganin in this field but in setting forth the Canadian point of view we can touch on some of them and also follow the lead given by the Prime Minister on television of refuting any Soviet implication that the organization has aggressive intentions. Thus in this general section on Nato, we could deal with the following points from the Bulganin letter:
- Necessity for creating confidence between states. (para. 1)
- Nato is preparing for war. (para. 2-4)
- Local wars will grow into large conflicts. (para. 6)
- Relationship of Nato to other military alliances. (paras. 7-8)
- Interdependence of Nato countries. (para. 9)
- Nato countries stir up military hysteria. (paras. 10-12)
- Suggested non-aggression agreement between Nato and Warsaw Pact. (para. 20)
10. We do not propose that any of the above subjects should be dealt with in great detail. We should rather go beyond the individual arguments of Bulganin and take the opportunity of setting forth our own point of view. While taking the Nato communiqué into account, this can perhaps be based on the relevant main points of your speech in the House of November 26, the Prime Minister's report to Parliament on December 21 and his television talk on December 22.
11. Canadian Items — In making our reply, I think we would do well to pick out those elements of the Bulganin letter which either relate to Canadian matters or come within fields in which Canada has a paramount interest. We can uphold the principles of Nato and not fail to refute charges where necessary, but at the same time devote major attention to those subjects which have a direct bearing on Canadian policies or which have significance for Canada as a middle power. Thus, following the general section, I think we should deal with specific points as follows:
12. Canadian-Soviet Relations (25-33) — Mr. Bulganin suggests that Canada can make an important contribution towards achieving agreement on the proposals made by the Soviet government and he welcomes your statement of December 3 in the External Affairs Committee23 about the importance of reducing tensions. He says Canada could play a particularly important role in the field of atomic developments. I think we should be careful not to imply in our answer that Canada is willing to take on any special role in achieving the settlement of some of the problems that beset relations between the major powers. We could merely say that we have noted Bulganin's remarks about the role of Canada in world affairs and that we intend to continue to play whatever role in the United Nations and within Nato we consider is best suited to the achievement of peace and security.
13. Mr. Bulganin states that the U.S.S.R. wishes to develop more extensive ties with Canada. He says that increased trade without "artificial" restrictions would establish good will and that a reciprocal visit of a trade mission would be welcome. He adds that co-operation in science and culture should be encouraged and he expresses the hope that a spirit of good neighbourliness will prevail between Canada and the U.S.S.R.
14. In our reply I think we could agree to the principle of good neighbourliness and assure him that we will continue to examine the possibilities of co-operation in all fields. We could agree to give attention to trade possibilities (and perhaps say that we will give consideration to his suggestion that a Canadian trade mission go to the U.S.S.R.) but it would probably be well to ignore at this stage his reference to "artificial" restrictions by which he means the strategic controls on trade with the Soviet bloc which have been maintained by Nato and other countries since the Korean conflict.24 We can mention the increase that has taken place in contacts and exchanges in various fields and we can agree that these should be encouraged. The Prime Minister might wish to make a reference to the contribution to goodwill made by the Russian hockey team which visited Canada at the beginning of the winter and to welcome the possibility of a reciprocal visit.
15. We can point out that it has been a matter of some concern to us that freedom of movement is not permitted to persons who wish to leave the U.S.S.R. and join relatives here as permanent residents. We can say that the granting of permission to such persons to leave the U.S.S.R. as well as the granting of exit permits to any Canadian citizens who are in the U.S.S.R. would be a good sign of the willingness of the U.S.S.R. to demonstrate the spirit of co-operation which it wishes to achieve in Canadian-Soviet relations.25
19Pour le texte de la lettre
du 13 décembre 1957 de Nicolaï Boulganine au premier ministre Diefenbaker,
voir Canada, Ministère des Affaires extérieures, Affaires extérieures, vol. 10,
no 2, février 1958, pp. 39 à 42.
20Voir Conseil de l'Atlantique Nord, Textes des communiqués
finals, 1949-1974, Bruxelles: Service de l'information OTAN, s.d., pp. 113 à 122.
21Le 2 octobre 1957, Adam Rapacki, ministre des
Affaires étrangères polonais, a présenté un plan à l'Assemblée générale des Nations Unies demandant
l'établissement d'une zone dénucléarisée en Europe centrale comprenant la Pologne, la
Tchécoslovaquie, l'Allemagne de l'Ouest et l'Allemagne de l'Est.
22Voir/See Volume 24, Document 117.
23Voir Canada, Chambre des Communes, Comité permanent des
Affaires extérieures, Procès-verbaux et témoignages, No 1, mardi, le 3 décembre 1957
(Ottawa: Imprimeur de la Reine, 1957) pp. 8 à 15.
24Voir/See Document 505.
25Note marginale:/Marginal note: