The Major IssuesWe must translate our consensus on objectives into specific policies.
Allied efforts toward mutual force reductions in Europe will continue in the coming year. Reducing the military confrontation in Europe is in the common interest of East and West. Our mutual objective should be to create a more stable military balance at lower levels and lower costs.
The problem of defining a fair agreement in precise terms is extremely complex. As in the preparations for SALT, I instructed our government to develop the analytical building blocks of an agreement and evaluate them in differing combinations, as our contribution to the alliance's collective deliberations. Our technical analysis is described in the arms control chapter of this report.
The U.S.S.R. has frequently proposed a general Conference on European Security. But such a conference, in the Soviet formulation, would not address the main security issues-the German question, Berlin, mutual force reductions-but only very general themes. We and our allies are prepared to negotiate with the East in any forum. But we see little value in a conference whose agenda would be unlikely to yield progress on concrete issues, but would only deflect our energies to drafting statements and declarations the interpretation of which would inevitably be a continuing source of disagreements. Once a political basis for improving relations is created through specific negotiations already in process, a general conference might build on it to discuss other intra-European issues and forms of cooperation.
Any lasting relaxation of tension in Europe must include progress in resolving the issues related to the division of Germany. The Gerrnan national question is basically one for the German people. It is only natural that the government of the Federal Republic should assign it high priority. But as Chancellor Brandt has emphasized, it is the strength of the Western coalition and West Germany's secure place in it that have enabled his government to take initiatives which mark a new stage in the evolution of the German question. The reshaping of German relations with the East inevitably affects the interests of all European states, as well as the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
Therefore, there has been full consultation within the alliance during the evolution of the Federal Republic's new policies and the negotiation of its new treaties with the U.S.S.R. and Poland. It is clearly established that allied responsibilities and rights are not affected by the terms of these treaties. I emphasized in my talks with Chancellor Brandt in Washington and in intensive allied consultation in 1970 that we support West Germany's objective of normalizing relations with its Eastern neighbors, and that we view its anguish at the unnatural division of the German nation with profound compassion.
New policies and their effects in Central Europe will create new conditions and raise new issues-but none that cannot be dealt with in continuing close consultation with the Federal Republic and within the alliance.
With the encouragement of the Federal Republic, the U.S., U.K. and France in August 1969 invited the U.S.S.R. to discuss Berlin. Four Power ambassadorial discussions started in March 1970. The history of the postwar period demonstrates the complexity and importance of this issue.
The Western objectives are the assurance of unhindered traffic to and from Berlin, Soviet acknowledgment of the existing and entirely legitimate ties between Berlin and Bonn, and improved communications and travel in and around Berlin. An effective Four Power agreement on Berlin will have to encompass arrangements worked out between East and West Germany on technical details. We recognize that new access procedures to Berlin will not necessarily prevent administrative harassment; this will depend as much on Communist willingness to remove Berlin as a cause of friction as on the specific terms of agreement.
Thus what began essentially as a discussion of practical improvements to assure Berlin's viability has assumed greater significance in East-West relations. To the West German government, the eastern treaties and a Berlin settlement are parts of the whole complex of Germany's future, and therefore it has conditioned the ratification of the treaties upon a satisfactory conclusion of the Berlin talks. To the Western allies, progress on Berlin will be an indicator of the possibilities of moving toward fruitful talks on broader issues of European security.