Section 12. Situation in Europe


1. East-West relations in Europe


(1) Materialization of East-West dialogue

East-West relations in the past year were characterized by the further materialization of an East-West dialogue with the maintenance of the status quo as the major premise. The major events that testify to this fact included (i) the U.S.-Soviet summit talks (in May 1972), (ii) the effectuation (in June 1972) of the German-Soviet treaty, the German-Polish treaty and the quadripartite agreement on Berlin, (iii) the conclusion (in December 1972) of the basic treaty between the two German states, (iv) the start (in November 1972) of the preparatory meetings for the holding of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and (v) the start (in January 1973) of preliminary talks for negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions (MBFR).

Since the German and Berlin problems-the primary obstacles to the improvement of East-West relations in Europe for many years-have been adjusted for the time being, it is expected that Eastern and Western Europe will promote multilateral contacts, centering around the full-dress CSCE and negotiations for MBFR, hereafter. Relations of bilateral cooperation will also be promoted further.

(2) Conclusion of the basic treaty between the two German states

After the East-West German treaty on general traffic was signed (in May 1972) and the quadripartite agreement on Berlin and the detailed agreements on Berlin went into force (in June 1972), Dr. Michael Kohl, representative of the German Democratic Republic and Egon Bahr, representative of the Federal German Republic, began to exchange (in June 1972) views on the pending problem of concluding a treaty to provide for basic relations between the two states. After conducting eight rounds of official negotiations which began in August 1972, the two Germanys initialed the East-West German basic treaty in November. (The treaty was signed in December 1972.)

The German problem has been adjusted for the time being under this treaty which provides for basic relations between the two German states. As a result, many countries have established diplomatic relations with the German Democratic Republic one after another, and both German states are expected to be admitted to the United Nations in the autumn of 1973.

(3) Preparatory meeting for CSCE

The preparatory meeting for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe opened in Helsinki on November 22, 1972, with 34 countries, including the United States and Canada and European countries, attending, The meeting was of great significance and it attracted considerable notice in that it was the first time after the war that most European countries and the United States and Canada had met together at one time.

The preparatory meeting was intended to decide on the order of business and the agenda of the full-dress conference scheduled for June 1973. The meeting was to reach agreement on placing on the agenda four subjects, namely, (i) security, (ii) economic exchange, (iii) exchange of personnel and ideas and (iv) the establishment of a standing organization. Adjustment was being made between Eastern and Western Europe on the order of business. It is most likely that the plenary conference will be held within 1973.

(4) Preliminary negotiations. for MBFR

As regards the preliminary talks for negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions, which is regarded as the substantial aspect of any progress toward the easing of tensions in Europe, the Eastern side did not clarify its attitude for a long time, and there was some trouble over the venue of the meeting shortly before the scheduled start of the meeting. After these and other complications, the talks were started in Vienna on January 31, 1973. Soon after the talks started, there was a difference of opinion between the East and the West over participating countries and areas to be covered by mutual and balanced force reductions, and it was still impossible to hold a plenary conference as of March 1973. Since the interests of countries participating in the negotiations are complicated and also because the problems involved are of a highly technical nature, it is expected that the negotiations will be as protracted as SALT.


2. The Soviet Union


(1) Domestic politics

(A) Problems

The major domestic problems for the Soviet Union in 1972 included (a) the reconstruction of its agriculture and industry which continued to perform poorly, (b) the tightening of party discipline by using the renewal of membership registration as a lever, (c) the promotion of cooperation among different ethnical groups and the strengthening of patriotism, and (d) ideological control and the removal of anti-establishment elements. These problems developed as explained below.

Despite General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev's urging for increased production in producing centers, the Soviet Union's agricultural production was very poor partly because of the abnormal weather. The production of grains reached only about 85 per cent of the target, and the Soviet Union had to buy more than 28 million tons of grains (including corn, soybeans and feed crops) from the United States and other countries. The Supreme Soviet late in 1972 set very big targets for agricultural production in 1973, and this shows the Soviet leadership's unusual enthusiasm for agricultural reconstruction.

As for industrial production, the 1972 plan failed to achieve its targets despite measures to introduce the latest technology, and it was an open question whether the ninth five-year plan could be carried out as planned.

As regards the tightening of the discipline of party members, it seems that considerable success was achieved through the renewal of membership registration.

The promotion of friendship among the different republics seems to have met with considerable success, as General Secretary Brezhnev stressed at ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union. However, the criticism by the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party of the Party Committee of Tobilisi City in the Georgian Republic, and the removal of Vasiliy Mzhavanadze, first secretary of the Communist Party of the republic, from his post as well as from being a candidate member for the Politburo showed that the problem of the tendency to move toward nationalism still remained in the Soviet Union.

As for ideological control, the incumbent Soviet leadership took strict measures, in contrast to its policy of easing tensions in its relations with Western Europe, For instance, the leadership summoned and arrested Dr, Andrey Sakharov and other anti-establishment elements and expelled a group of scholars critical of the establishment, including Zhores A. Medvedev. It is considered that this kind of movement quieted down as a result.

(B) Personnel

Major personnel changes within the Soviet leadership included the demotion of Peter Shelest, first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist Party who was reported to be a member of the hawkish faction, to the post of deputy premier of the Soviet Union (in May 1972), the dismissal of Politburo candidate member Vasiliy Mzhavanadze (in December 1972), the dismissal of Politburo member Dmitriy Polyanski as first deputy premier and his appointment as Minister of Agriculture (in April 1973), the appointment of Mikhail Ponomarev, a secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, as a Politburo member (in May 1972), the appointment of Politburo member Vladimir Shcherbitsky as the first Ukrainian Communist Party secretary (in May 1972) and the promotion of Vladimir Dolgikh, first secretary of the Communist Party of Krashoyarsk, to a secretary of the Soviet Communist Party (in December 1972).

It is to be noted that Brezhnev's influence increased within the Party leadership through this series of personnel changes.

(2) Diplomacy

(A) Progress in working relations with the United States

In the violently fluid world situation, which saw the Sino-American rapprochement in 1971 and China's debut in the international arena, the Soviet Union continued to promote further in 1972 its policy line of cooperation with the United States as the principal object of its diplomatic policy. The Soviet Union made great efforts to develop its working relations with the United States. Such efforts included President Nixon's visit to the Soviet Union, the conclusion of the first round of SALT and of various economic, scientific and technical agreements (in May 1972), the conclusion of the agreement on grain imports (in July 1972), the conclusion of the shipping agreement and the three-year trade agreement, the agreement of repayment of wartime debts and the mutual credit agreement (in October 1972). At the same time, the Soviet Union tried to increase its influence in European problems by promoting its diplomacy of easing tensions in Europe.

On the other hand, there emerged factors that were considered unfavorable for the Soviet Union, such as the increased confrontation between China and the Soviet Union on the international scene in 1972 and the withdrawal of Soviet military personnel from Egypt.

(B) Promotion of diplomacy to ease tensions in Europe

The so-called Soviet diplomacy of easing tensions in Europe entered an important stage with the holding of the preparatory meeting for the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the start of preliminary negotiations for the holding of negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions in the wake of the conclusion of the quadripartite agreement on Berlin, the effectuation of the German-Soviet and German-Polish treaties and the initialing of the basic treaty between the two German states (which was signed on December 21). The Soviet Union showed a compromising attitude toward the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and showed its interest in holding a plenary conference as soon as possible. However, the Soviet Union assumed a tough attitude toward the negotiations for mutual and balanced force reductions. Meanwhile, the Eastern European countries adjusted their opinions on these European problems by holding summit talks in the Crimea (in July 1972) and a meeting of their foreign ministers (in January 1973). The Soviet Union invited French President Georges Pompidou to Minsk to exchange opinions (January 1973).

(C) Asian security plan

The Soviet Union endeavored to conduct positive diplomatic activities toward the Near and Middle East and Asia, too. The Soviet Union tried to promote bilateral relations in these regions by taking such measures as the conclusion of the Soviet-Iraqi treaty of friendship and cooperation and the announcement of a declaration on the principles of good neighborly relations between the Soviet Union and Turkey (in April 1972), the conclusion of the Soviet-Syrian economic and technical cooperation agreement (in July 1972), the conclusion of the Soviet-Afghanistan economic and technical cooperation agreement (in July 1972), and the conclusion of the Soviet-Malaysia economic and technical cooperation agreement and the cultural and scientific cooperation agreement (in October 1972).

As for the Soviet Union's Asian collective security plan, which was proposed by Nikita Khrushchev on the occasion of the 20th Soviet Communist Party convention in 1956 and taken up again by Leonid Brezhnev at the World Communist Party Conference in 1969, the Soviet Union tried to publicize the plan from time to time and actively tried to sell the idea. Especially, in a joint communique issued on the occasion of Premier Alexei Kosygin's visit to Iran (March 14-16, 1973), the Soviet Union disclosed its intention of carrying out a campaign for this plan over extensive areas, including the Middle East.

On the other hand, the Soviet Union and Egypt failed to come to terms over the problem of Soviet aid in weapons to Egypt, despite successive visits to the Soviet Union by Egyptian leaders, including President Anwar Sadat (in April 1972), Defense Minister Mohamed Sadek (in June 1972) and Prime Minister Aziz Sidky (in July 1972). The situation deteriorated so much that the Soviet Union withdrew its military personnel from Egypt (in July 1972). However, there .were subsequent moves to adjust their bilateral relations through Prime Minister Sidky's visit to the Soviet Union (in October 1972) followed by visits to the Soviet Union (in February 1973) by Hafez Ismail, an advisor to President Sadat, and Ahmed Ismail Aly, Defense Minister.

(D) Criticism of the People's Republic of China

While speaking of the problem of improving State-to-State relations with China, the Soviet Union continued its basic stance of firmly maintaining a rigid attitude which did not allow any compromise with China. It appears that the Soviet Union intensified slightly its criticism of China since a treatise by E. Alexandrov (in September 1972), which is said to have reflected the opinion of the Soviet Communist Party leaders, severely criticized China. The argument over disarmament at the U.N. General Assembly and General Secretary Brezhnev's speech (in December 1972) on the occasion of ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union showed the Soviet Union's firm posture, and it seems that a rapprochement between the People's Republic of China and the Soviet Union is still difficult.


3. Eastern Europe


(1) Expanded exchanges with Western European countries

Developments in Eastern Europe in 1972 were characterized by progress in the Soviet Union's policy toward Europe-the so-called easing of tensions-and measures taken by various Eastern European countries to tighten their own domestic setups. The policy of easing tensions in Europe increased Eastern European countries' exchanges (mainly economic, trade, scientific and technical exchanges) with Western Europe and gave rise to the possibility of weakening the Soviet Union's controls over Eastern Europe. In fear of this possibility, the Soviet Union called a summit meeting between the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries in the Crimea (in July 1972) which decided on a series of measures, including the tightening of ideological controls, adjustment of plans for a rapprochement with Western Europe (mainly the Federal Republic of Germany) and the strengthening of the COMECON integration plan. Practically all Eastern European countries carried out campaigns to strengthen the solidarity of the socialist community, especially the tightening of ideological controls, although there were some differences according to the actual conditions in individual countries.

In Czechoslovakia, a trial of suspects charged with aiding an attempt to overthrow the republic was held (from mid-July to late August, 1972). Hungary took administrative measures to check excesses arising out of economic reform. It also took measures to ban the sale of publications that praised the Hungarians' patriotic sentiment. The general meeting of the party's Central Committee held before General Secretary Brezhnev's visit to Hungary (in November 1972) reconfirmed the tightening of ideological controls. In Romania, too, the party's national convention (in July) confirmed the tightening of ideological controls. Bulgaria established (in April) a committee on publications attached to the Council of Ministers for ideological control. The German Democratic Republic and Poland also intensified campaigns to cope with moves by the Western side.

(2) German Democratic Republic

The Honecker Administration completed its greatest diplomatic task by signing the basic treaty between the two German states (on December 21, 1972) and establishing diplomatic relations with Western countries around that time. It is believed that this diplomatic achievement increased the stability of Honecker's position within the party and elevated the international position of the Democratic Republic.

However, the Honecker Administration's domestic policies became even more rigid than those in the Ulbricht age because it took into consideration the effects of increased exchanges with Western countries including the Federal 'Republic of Germany. It repeatedly stressed to the people that the German Democratic Republic is a socialist country and carried out a campaign to tell the people that the policy of peaceful coexistence with capitalist countries did not mean coexistence with imperialism and German Federal Republic's social democracy and that a constant ideological struggle against them was needed.

The Administration paid greater attention than in the Ulbricht age to the improvement of the people's living standard by taking such measures as increasing the supply of consumer goods and expanding social security.

(3) Poland

The year 1972 was a comparatively stable year for the Gierek Administration, which gave top priority to the improvement of the people's living standard, as the Administration entered its second year in office after establishing its position within the party and Government since 1971. It almost achieved its annual targets in the economic field, and it can be said that the performance of the Polish economy was considerably good. Poland achieved substantial results in its efforts to improve relations with Western countries, including President Nixon's visit to Poland (in May), the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Germany (in September), and First Secretary Edward Gierek's visit to France (in October).

(4) Czechoslovakia

The Husak Administration's "normalization" policy line progressed without trouble as a whole, although it was shaken considerably by such events as the arrest and trial of intellectuals and students. General Secretary Gustav Husak secured the Soviet Union's steady support by acting faithfully in concert with the Soviet Union. He made a display of his relationship of mutual confidence with the Soviet Union by inviting General Secretary Brezhnev to the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the "February victory" (from February 22 to 24, 1973), and realized the re-election of President Ludvik Svoboda (on March 22, 1973) by controlling the opposition of some elements within the Party. All this can be regarded as a success for Husak's efforts to maintain the present setup.

(5) Hungary

Adverse effects stemming from economic reform (such as excessive investment, the increased gap between the rich and the poor, and a deficit in trade) became conspicuous in the latter half of 1971, and the trend among the people to belittle ideology developed in 1972 as a result of measures taken to promote socialistic democracy (liberalization) and economic reform. In view of this phenomenon, the Party and the Government tried to correct excesses of economic reform and strengthen ideological controls. On the occasion of General Secretary Brezhnev's visit (at the end of November 1972), Hungary and the Soviet Union agreed to act in concert to tighten ideological controls and also in the field of foreign policy. However, no basic change was made in Hungary's economic reform because Hungary had already taken self-restraining measures.

As for its international relations, Hungary moved steadily ahead and became a member of the international Commission. of Control and Supervision in Vietnam together with Poland (in January 1973).

(6) Romania

Intensive discussions on economic problems were held in 1972. After holding a conference on economic affairs in February, the Party's national meeting in July adopted a resolution calling for achieving the targets of the current five-year plan before the end of the plan. The general meeting of the Party Central Committee in November decided on maximum plans to supplement the current five-year plan. It can be said that the decision was made from the standpoint that, for Romania to catch up with the advanced countries as soon as possible, it must strengthen its international competitiveness and, for that purpose, it must urgently strengthen its domestic economic foundation first. In the diplomatic field, Romania's independent policy line continued to form the basis of its diplomacy, as evidenced by its participation in the IMF and the World Bank and its unique proposals on the CSCE and MBFR problems, although it moved to strengthen slightly its cooperation with COMECON (at the Party meeting in July).

(7) Yugoslavia

The unrest caused by the withdrawal of the Croatia leadership in 1971, which revealed the ethnical antagonism between the republics of Croatia and Serbia, was temporarily settled at the annual meeting of the Party in January 1972. However, the Party was compelled to dismiss in 1972 the Serbian leadership which had begun to show a strong tendency toward liberalism, and this revealed that there still remained many problems in domestic politics. In October 1972, President Josip Broz Tito issued a letter, and this fact proved that there was a deep-seated negative phenomenon or tendency in the country. It can be said that the establishment of a setup for a "post-Tito" age has not yet been completed. In the diplomatic field, Yugoslavia maintained the principle of nonalignment and positive peaceful coexistence.

(8) Bulgaria

The Zhivkov Administration used both tough and flexible tactics by tightening ideological controls (at a special meeting of the Party Central Committee in July 1972) on the one hand, and deciding on various measures to improve the living standard (at the general meeting of the Central Committee in December). The domestic situation remained stable. In the economic field, however, the new economic system (agricultural-industrial complexes and State-business combines) did not go into full operation, and inefficiency and bureaucratization became noticeable in economic activities.

(9) Albania

Albania's silence about Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in February 1972 gave rise to speculation that there must have occurred a change in its attitude toward China. However, its attitude remained unchanged outwardly and it continued to maintain friendly relations with China, and China continued to be an important and the most friendly country to Albania. Its uncompromising attacks on "U.S. imperialism" and "Soviet revisionism" remained unchanged and it refused to attend the CSCE, saying it was meaningless to attend a conference controlled by the two superpowers. The control of the Hoxna leadership over the country was still strong. The most noticeable trend in 1972 was that it began to pay greater attention to domestic administration.


4. Western Europe


There were some unstable moves in Western Europe in 1972 through the first half of 1973, such as the North Ireland issue in Britain which remained unsettled and the change of the French prime minister from Jacques Chaban-Delmas to Pierre Messmer (the Messmer Cabinet was formed in July). However, it can be said that the domestic situation in Western European countries was generally calm.

The development of East-West relations and moves over the expanded EC were developments of special importance in the past year.

(1) France

The French economy progressed quite smoothly, being supported by steady consumption and favorable exports, although there was a trend toward price and wage increases. Domestic politics generally showed active moves, including a referendum that approved the treaty on the expansion of the EC (in April 1972), the resignation of Prime Minister Chaban-Delmas and the formation of the Messmer Cabinet (in July) and a general election of the National Congress (in March 1973).

From the autumn of 1972 to March 1973, public attention was focused on the general election because the Socialist-Communist coalition, which was riding on the rising tide, and the coalition of forces supporting the Government centering on the Gaullists carried out an active election campaign. In the election, the Socialist-Communist coalition doubled its number of seats, but the Government coalition succeeded in obtaining a majority. How the Pompidou Government will reflect the people's voice for a change, expressed in the general election, is a major interest in the future.

In the diplomatic field, France promoted its unique diplomatic policy line, and the President visited African countries (in November 1972 and January 1973) and the Soviet Union (in January 1973). It also conducted positive diplomatic activities at a meeting of EC leaders (held in Paris in October 1972) and the preparatory meeting for the holding of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

(2) Italy

What deserves special mention in domestic politics was that Italy put an end to the center-left regime of the past 10 years with the formation of the second Andreotti Cabinet in June. However, it is considered that there is little possibility of the middle-of-the-road regime staying in power for a long time.

In the diplomatic field, there had been no conspicuous moves until the formation of the Cabinet because of the dissolution of the National Assembly and the general election. Italy's diplomatic activities became active in the latter half of 1972, starting with the Leone-Pompidou talks late in July which was followed by the Rome meeting of the foreign ministers of the expanded EC (in September). They culminated in the meeting of leaders of the expanded EC in Paris (in October), Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti's visit to the Soviet Union (in October) and Foreign Minister Giuseppe Medici's visit to Romania (in November). Their visits to the Communist countries took place against the new international situation in which tensions had eased.

(3) Britain

The most important problems in domestic administration were inflation, unemployment, the labor problem and the North Ireland problem. The British Government assumed a positive posture to cut off the vicious cycle of price and wage increases and facilitate economic growth by stimulating industrial activities by taking advantage of a trend toward expansion of the national economy for the first time in several years, As part of its policy, the Government took drastic measures to temporarily freeze wages and prices, displaying an uncommon determination. A white paper on the North Ireland problem published by the British Government showed the road to a possible settlement, but it is likely to take time before the situation can be improved fundamentally.

In the diplomatic field, Britain officially participated in the expanded EC in January 1973, and it can be said that its Europe-oriented diplomacy produced considerable results.

(4) Federal Republic of Germany

In 1972, the Federal Republic of Germany actively conducted its Ostpolitik centering around the conclusion of the East-West German basic treaty (initialed on November 8 and formally signed on December 21), the greatest event in the history of the Federal Republic (and in the postwar history of Europe). In domestic politics, the focus of attention was the dissolution of the Bundestag for the first time in the history of the Republic and the Brandt Government's (coalition Government of the SPD and the FDP) victory in the subsequent general election (on November 19).

There was considerable criticism of the Brandt Government's domestic policies, especially policies concerning economic affairs and public security.

(5) Start of the expanded EC

Solidarity among the Western countries was strengthened and expanded further during 1972 and into 1973. Especially, the six original members of the European Communities signed on January 22, 1972, a treaty with Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway for the admission of the four countries into the EC. The new members took the necessary domestic procedures to ratify the treaty. Of them, Norway elected to withhold its participation as a result of a referendum (77.5 per cent of the eligible voters voted, and 53.6 per cent of them voted against Norway's participation). Britain, Ireland and Denmark completed the necessary procedures for participation, and the expanded EC consisting of nine countries made its start when the three new members were admitted on January 1, 1973.

The nine-nation expanded EC forms a huge economic community with a population of 253,400,000, a combined GNP of $626,000 million (in 1970) and a share of about 40 per cent of world trade. Moreover, more than 60 countries, including the remaining EFTA members, African countries and those on the Mediterranean coast, have special relations with the expanded EC, and its influence on world trade, the world economic setup and international politics will undoubtedly be very great.


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