Volume #26 - 356.|
UNION DES RÉPUBLIQUES SOCIALISTES SOVIÉTIQUES
PROJET D'ACCORD CULTUREL
Le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
à l'ambassadeur en Union soviétique
DESPATCH NO. S-340|
le 29 mai 1959|
Reference: Your despatch No. 528 of May 11.417
PROPOSED CULTURAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN CANADA AND THE USSR
We were surprised to note, from your interesting account of Dr. James' visit to Moscow, the apparent misunderstanding, either deliberate or genuine, of our position on the question of a cultural agreement reflected in the remarks attributed to Mr. Mikoyan and a senior Soviet official by Dr. James.
2. Mr. Chuvahin first referred casually to the possibility of a cultural agreement with us in January 1958 shortly after the US-USSR agreement418 was announced. The matter has been discussed informally with both Mr. Chuvahin and his successor several times since but it was not until Mr. Aroutunian's last call on the Under-Secretary that the Ambassador raised the subject in a manner to suggest that he was acting on official instructions. On none of these occasions did we reject outright the possibility of finding a mutually satisfactory formula for recording our common interest in developing exchanges. We have expressed our firm belief that a general cultural agreement would be unlikely to facilitate cultural relations and exchanges between our two countries for the following reasons:
(a) Under our Constitution the Federal Government lacks authority in many of the fields normally covered by a cultural agreement;
(b) There is no federal agency in existence for dealing with cultural relations, no federal funds to promote them, and no real prospect that either will become available in the foreseeable future; (The Canada Council in its present form is not in a position to perform this function)
(c) An agreement covering a field in which the Federal Government lacks the authority to take an initiative would be misleading and might well be damaging rather than encouraging to the development of cultural relations and exchanges between our two countries, since it would foster expectations which, on the Canadian side, could not be realized.
3. We are enclosing an extract from a memorandum dated February 5? describing the interview between the Soviet Ambassador and the Head of European Division in which this matter was discussed. You will see from the last paragraph that the Soviet Ambassador had said that he would try to send us a draft of a general agreement for study, to see whether it met the Canadian situation. This has never been received, despite the indications of our willingness to examine such a text if this approach to the problem was still preferred by the Soviet authorities.
4. You will also notice that Mr. Aroutunian made it clear that if we did not find such an arrangement acceptable, he would be prepared to make an agreement after the U.S. pattern. This would, in fact, be very much the same as what we have suggested in our note of August 19, 1958,419 to which we have as yet received no reply. In that note, we accepted or commented on the visits included in the Soviet list which had been left with us on August 1 by Mr. Chuvahin and set forth a list of visits to the Soviet Union in which the Canadian Government was interested.
5. In these circumstances, we find it difficult to believe that our position has been genuinely misunderstood. The Soviet Government may well be withholding a response to our suggestions for visits as a means of pressing us into a cultural agreement. Mr. Mikoyan's remarks may have been similarly intended. Although we consider that a reasonable balance has been maintained in the official visits exchanged thus far, the initiative for these has come exclusively from the Soviet Union. Our note of August 19 constitutes the first official initiative taken by the Canadian Government in this respect420 and we regard the Soviet Government's failure to respond to it as an inexcusable delay. We are certainly not disposed to accept any intimation from the Soviet Government at this stage that their failure to do so may be set down to our alleged unforthcoming attitude on the question of a cultural agreement, particularly since our initiative predates by nine months the first indication we received that the Soviet Union was seriously interested in the latter. We should, therefore, like you to take the first opportunity available at a senior Foreign Office level to refer to Mr. Mikoyan's conversation with Dr. James and to clarify our position as outlined above.
6. On May 7, when the Soviet Ambassador last spoke to the Under-Secretary on this subject, he mentioned that Canada had already entered into cultural agreements with both Brazil421 and Italy and that these might serve as precedents for a Canada-USSR agreement. Should the Foreign Office use this argument with you, you might wish to point out that not only do these two exceptions demonstrate our general avoidance of cultural agreements, the limited results flowing from them underline our contention that, for Canada, cultural agreements are an unsatisfactory means of stimulating cultural relations. The agreement with Brazil has had little result since its signature in 1944. There has, since them, been an exchange of art with Brazil, but this exchange was not dependent on the agreement. The Canadian-Italian agreement was arrived at in unique circumstances and for a particular purpose which bears no comparison with the objectives of either the Canadian or USSR Governments at this time. (You might indicate, if the Soviet Government refused to accept this, that this agreement was designed as a means of utilizing for cultural purposes some of the blocked funds accruing to Canada under the Military Relief Agreement with Italy which was signed in 1950.) Furthermore, the fact that it was signed in 1954 but has not yet been implemented should be sufficient proof to the Soviet Government that the difficulties we have talked of in this connection are real.
7. We will be speaking to Mr. Aroutunian along similar lines in the near future to make it clear to him that we are disposed to encourage further exchanges of visits and other appropriate contacts between our two countries; we do not regard a general cultural agreement as the most suitable means of doing so; we might be prepared to consider an agreement along the lines of the USSR-USA agreement if he cares to present us with a proposal in this regard but; in any event, we would expect to get an early and adequate response from the Soviet Government to the exchange proposals put forward in our note of August 19, 1958.
417Non retrouvé./Not located.
418Voir/See "Text of the Joint Communiqué of U.S. and Soviet Union on Cultural Exchanges," New York Times, January 28, 1958, p. 8.
419Voir/See Volume 25, document 504.
420Le Cabinet avait approuvé le 19 juin 1958 une politique générale concernant les échanges de visites avec les pays du bloc soviétique. Voir volume 25, chapitre IV, 3e partie.
421Voir Recueil des traités du Canada, 1944, no 15./See Canada Treaty Series, 1944, No. 15.