Volume #21 - 520.|
EUROPE ET L'UNION SOVIÉTIQUE
EUROPE DE L'EST ET L'UNION SOVIÉTIQUE
Note du chef de la Direction européenne|
pour le sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 3 août 1955|
THE EXCHANGE OF OFFICIAL VISITS WITH SOVIET BLOC COUNTRIES|
Over the past several months, there has been a great increase in the exchange of visitors between Canada and the U.S.S.R. The increase has resulted largely from Soviet initiative; Canadians have been asked to visit the U.S.S.R., while permission has been asked for groups from the Soviet Union to visit Canada. In this memorandum, which has been prepared in consultation with the other Divisions interested, I shall consider some of the problems raised by the exchange of visits by government, leaving to a later memorandum the broader question of "cultural" exchanges.
2. We think that the exchange of visits should be encouraged. We have always assumed that we would benefit from a freer exchange of ideas with the Soviet Union; it was evidently the Soviet Union's fear of such an exchange that led it to erect the Iron Curtain. We should try to exploit its present change of heart, particularly since we have no idea how long it may last. We may not be able to convert from communism the sort of people selected to go on official tours of Western countries, but we can show them Canada, its people and its accomplishments, and explain to them our policies. These advantages should far outweigh the increased opportunities for subversion and espionage which will be opened to the visitors. We could benefit greatly from sending competent observers to the Soviet Union, especially since visiting delegates are frequently shown things which members of the Embassies are not allowed to see and since officials sent over might bring to their observation a degree of specialized scientific or technical training which members of our Embassy do not normally possess. In the exchange we would come out much the better, since Soviet observers in Canada would be unlikely to see things about which they could not have learned from many other sources, while our people in the U.S.S.R. might pick up information otherwise unavailable.
3. If we take the initiative, we can, to a great extent, prevent visits to Canada being exploited by Communists for propaganda purposes here, and also, by arranging for conducting officers, can eliminate to some degree the security risks involved. Visits to the Soviet Union by intelligent government officials would help to offset the effect of the many visits currently made there by Canadian communists and fellow travellers.
4. At the moment, the exchange of visits is not as profitable to Canada as it could be, for a variety of reasons. So far, the exchange has taken place largely at the request of the Soviet authorities, although very occasionally we have taken the initiative. The recent invitation to two Canadian scientists to attend a Moscow conference on atomic energy and the Soviet request that their agricultural delegation to the United States be allowed to come to Canada as well are typical. As a result, the Soviet Union is able to decide what sort of visit should take place and to choose a time most convenient for its purposes - when it has a special exhibition to impress observers, for instance; when the presence of officials of a foreign government in the U.S.S.R. would add point to a particular propaganda move; or when it hopes to make contacts in a sphere of immediate interest to its intelligence people.
5. The Soviet Union has so far financed almost all of the visits. We do not normally pay the expenses of Soviet officials visiting this country, although they occasionally enjoy the hospitality of private Canadian firms, while the U.S.S.R. generally pays for the lavish reception given to Canadian visitors there. The Soviet financing of visits both ways has tended to re-enforce its control over the planning of the visits. It may have had the added disadvantage of rendering even official Canadian visitors to the Soviet Union less willing to criticize objectively a country which was acting as host in such an ostentatiously generous way than they would have been had they been sent at Canadian expense.
6. To make the exchange of visits more profitable, there is an obvious need to develop a consistent Canadian policy, instead of dealing with each invitation or request for a Soviet visit as it comes. This department should first of all consider how extensive these exchanges should be. We could then ask other departments to consider whether any of their officials might benefit from a chance to inspect Soviet work in their field. At the same time, consideration could be given to the type of Soviet official who might be asked here. An exchange of specialists in a field in which Canada is particularly interested and in which Soviet and Canadian problems are similar, such as agriculture or Arctic research, might be found desirable. In any case, an analysis of the type of exchange we preferred would enable us to take the initiative.
7. Since we have not followed a consistent policy with respect to the exchange of visits, the security and intelligence aspects of it have not always been too well arranged. We have not provided guides and interpreters to Soviet delegations here or interpreters and advisers to Canadian delegations behind the Iron Curtain. The Joint Intelligence Committee is already considering the intelligence aspects of the visits, and the Security panel has been invited to consider the security aspects. Attached for your information is a JIC paper of July 7, 1955? on the subject. The utility of having Canadian officials visiting the U.S.S.R. accompanied by their own interpreters and advisers is obviously great, although possibly difficult to arrange, particularly for smaller delegations. The groups could, of course, be given political advice by this department and briefings by the relevant intelligence organization. By providing guides and interpreters to Soviet groups here, we would have a better check on security, and would gain more information about the reaction of the groups to what they saw. We would also give the groups themselves a more accurate impression of Canada by improving the arrangements for their visits, and removing them to some extent from complete dependence on their Embassy.
8. We should try to obtain enough money to finance some of the visits, particularly those of Canadians to the Soviet Union when the visit is to be made at our request. Some government departments may already have funds to pay for trips by their experts, and if the positive value of their trips to the Soviet Union could be demonstrated, more money might be made available.27 The present government hospitality budget would not, I understand, allow us to pay for many Soviet visits here, but we might be able to obtain a special grant for this purpose. Paying for Canadian delegations would be easier, of course, if the Soviet Union dropped its artificial rate for roubles, but even at the present disadvantageous rate, we should insist on paying a greater share of the costs.
9. To consider the problems raised by the exchange of visits a departmental committee should be set up, perhaps with an assistant under-secretary as chairman.28 It could include the heads of the Information, Consular, Defence Liaison (2), European and Protocol divisions and the Political Co-Ordination section, and the Press Officer, with an officer of D.L. (2) as secretary. The committee could first consider long term policy, and might later be consulted about individual cases. It could also advise other departments concerning the visits. You will note that the J.I.C. expressed the hope that this department would set up such a committee.
10. I consider that we should welcome the Soviet Union's interest in exchanging visits and should encourage it, since the exchange will allow us to explain Canada to Soviet officials while giving our people a chance to obtain valuable information about the U.S.S.R. To make the exchange more profitable to Canada I would recommend:29
(a) that a departmental committee be established to consider the problems posed by exchanges, to formulate a general policy for handling them as well as considering particular cases, and to consult with other government departments;
(b) that other departments be asked to advise us as to the type of exchanges which they consider most useful, and to inform us of any Soviet invitations they may receive;
(c) that, on the basis of recommendations by the committee and other departments, Canada take the initiative in proposing visits by Canadian officials to the U.S.S.R., and inviting Soviet officials here.30