Breadcrumb

Statement by the President Reporting on the Paris Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers

June 21, 1949

THE SECRETARY of State has given me daily reports, and now a final report, on the recently concluded session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris.

Genuine progress was made at this session toward the conclusion of the treaty with Austria. This is a development which I know will be most welcome to the people of Austria, who for 4 years since the end of hostilities have lived under a regime of occupation. Almost 6 years ago, at the first Moscow Conference in 1943, it was solemnly declared that Austria was to be regarded not as an enemy country but as a liberated country, the first victim of Nazi aggression, and it has been the consistent effort of the United States Government and the Governments of the United Kingdom and France to honor the pledge made at that time. Yet previous meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers and their Deputies failed to remove the obstacles which certain Soviet claims concerning Austria placed in the way of a speedy conclusion of a treaty with the Austrian Republic.

At the Paris session the more important of these obstacles were finally removed by a freely negotiated agreement among the four powers, and we have reason to hope that before the end of the year the treaty may be signed. Such a positive achievement would be very gratifying. The Austrian people will acclaim this progress and they in turn should be commended for their attitude of patient understanding throughout the protracted negotiations. The Austrian Government has been currently consulted during the negotiations in Paris, and the agreement reached preserves intact the vital interests of Austria. It can be said that the goal so important for Austria and her people is at last in sight. The United States Government wholeheartedly welcomes the results of the Conference on Austria.

The same cannot be said regarding Germany. It must be frankly admitted that despite the forward-looking program sponsored by the Western powers as a basis for unification, little progress was made. The American delegation went to Paris with the serious intention of developing a constructive program which would meet the requirements for all of Germany and would safeguard the interests of all four powers in insuring that Germany would achieve its reconstruction along peaceful and democratic lines. At the same time, the Western powers were determined not to compromise the democratic principles and the conditions which must be established throughout Germany before an economically sound and workable solution can be found for German unity. They were equally determined not to jeopardize the basic freedoms as they now exist in Western Germany merely to obtain a nominal political unity. In these objectives they knew they had the support of the freely elected representatives of the majority of the German people.

The Soviet Union, on the other hand, sought a return to Potsdam and its system, which the Russians had rendered unworkable by their misuse of the unlimited veto. They refused to recognize the important progress which has been made in Western Germany since 1945.

In these circumstances, real progress for the unification of Germany and its people was impossible. The most that could be achieved was a working arrangement designed to mitigate the abnormal situation of a still divided Germany. This arrangement is no more nor less than what it professes to be--a means of dealing with what actually exists. It reaffirms the lifting of the Berlin blockade and contains the recognition by the occupation authorities of their obligation to insure the movement of persons and goods between the Eastern and Western Zones and between Berlin and the zones.

In an effort to mitigate the economic consequences of the existing division of Germany, the arrangement provides for consultation among the occupation authorities of the four occupying powers on practicable and useful measures which may be taken from time to time, particularly to facilitate and increase the flow of balanced trade between the different zones and the zones and sectors of Berlin in a manner advantageous to the Germans of the respective areas. To this end we are also prepared to call upon the expert assistance of the Germans in the Western Zones and Sectors. Since it proved impossible to establish a unified administration for Germany or even for Berlin, the present dual currency system must remain for the time being.

We are hopeful that such consultations and efforts may be fruitful. We shall endeavor to make them so.

Finally, our working arrangement calls for an exchange of views in the fall. Thus the door is left open to future efforts for a solution of the German problem and the achievement of peace in Europe.

The Secretary of State has informed me of the close cooperation and understanding which characterized the relations of the three Western powers throughout the conference. I take much satisfaction in this. It is a demonstration of the progress made possible by the identity of ideals and values which are the common heritage of the peoples of the Atlantic community.

I am convinced that the results of the Paris meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers reveal the correctness of the policies this Government has been following in our foreign affairs. The results again underline the necessity of pursuing these policies with calmness and determination, as the only sure road to the establishment of conditions in the world where peace and freedom can live and endure. I am confident that the American people see this as clearly as I do and that there will be no slackening of our efforts to achieve the great task which history has placed upon our country.