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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 13, 1964

MEETING MINUTES, COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF THE NETHERLANDS, 'FOREIGN POLICY'

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    Council of Ministers minutes reports that Minister of Foreign Affairs has met with U.S. Secretary of State Rusk, who was determined to secure Dutch and British participation in the Multilateral Force. The French increase their resisitance to the plan, while anti-German sentiment increases in France.
    "Meeting Minutes, Council of Ministers of the Netherlands, 'Foreign Policy'" November 13, 1964, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number 2.02.05.02, inventory number 753. Obtained and translated by Bastiaan Bouwman. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/117675
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Council of Ministers

13 November 1964

5. Foreign policy

a. Minister Luns with American Secretary Rusk (see c[ouncil of ]m[inisters]. minutes 30 October 1964, point 2 b)

Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Luns has spoken with Secretary [of State] Rusk twice in America. The latter wanted to hear from him before the new British Secretary [of State for Foreign Affairs] Gordon Walker came to Washington. After speaker had given his impressions of the first talk in London, Rusk raised the issue of the MLF. A large portion of the very long conversation was dedicated to this subject. Regarding the Italian government, speaker said that it would not take a decision before the British government decided. Speaker is of the opinion that, with regard to the Netherlands, the American government would provide far-reaching assistance, not directly but through assistance in a different area, if the Netherlands were to decide to participate in the MLF. It will want to do the same with regard to Britain, because it realizes that otherwise nothing will come of it, since the British government is unwilling to raise the budget for this. Rusk expected that the French opposition against the MLF would increase, which in the meantime has indeed occurred.

With regard to Indonesia, Rusk arrived at the conclusion that the Dutch government acted appropriately by staying out of the conflict with Malaysia. He foresaw that the Netherlands would be the only Western country to have contact with Indonesia.

5 b. Position of the French government (see c[ouncil of ]m[inisters]. minutes 30 October 1964, point 2a)

Minister Luns is worried by the growing anti-German mood in France. He received the French ambassador the previous day. During the conversation he expressed this increasing discomfort, especially because it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a basis for common positions. The French government presents the allies with too many accomplished facts, in relation to which speaker recounted the veto against the accession of England to the EEC, the recognition of communist China, the long-term credits to Russia and the rejection of the study on the MLF. The ambassador spoke about the concern of his government about the increasingly visible “complex de supériorité” of the German Federal Republic. Speaker clearly transmitted what Rusk had said about the posture of the French government. The latter had stated that America will never become the mercenary of Europe. France can build its own defense and its own policy, but then it must know that America cannot always give its guarantee. Speaker added that if the French policy were to continue in that direction, this would lead to increasing distance from America.

The French ambassador asked him if a discussion between the six ministers of foreign affairs would be worthwhile, to which speaker replied affirmatively. He also said that the French government sees no gain in discussing the Hallstein plan in the WEU [Western European Union] Council. Speaker repeats that the greatest difficulty is that neither the French administration nor President de Gaulle say what they want.

(…)

5 e. European integration; the MLF (See minutes c[ouncil].[of ]m[inisters]. 6 November 1964, point 2 c)

Minister [of Economic Affairs] Andriessen is of the opinion that the council should hold a discussion about European policy. At the discussions in the European communities he is in a vacuum because his background is insufficient. With regard to the MLF the council will at some point have to make a choice, but at present this is not possible. The development of the EEC is currently stuck, but speaker believes that no Dutch attempt should be made to get this moving, since the obstacle lies in German-French relations. The Dutch ministers should, however, be able to take a position. Minister Luns understands very well that his colleagues are somewhat bewildered with regard to the European problems, but the main thrust of the Dutch cabinet is known. Concerning the EEC the Netherlands is in favor of its extension and of a speedier realization; furthermore the government backs proposals to increase parliamentary control and plans for fusion and what else was laid down in the first German plan. In the Western European Union it was decided, at the time, that the Western European countries would engage in closer political consultation, also with Britain. In the other countries governments face difficulties like those that Minister Andriessen sketched. After the veto by President de Gaulle against accession of England to the EEC it was quiet for a year. Subsequently developments have begun to move a bit once more. Politically, the Belgian Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Spaak found it necessary to take the initiative, about which speaker was not enthusiastic.

Minister Andriessen remarks that a year ago, France said there should be a political union. Since then they have been nervous, and we have seen the Spaak, Erhard and Saragat plans. Minister Luns recalls that the second Fouchet proposal was almost accepted in April 1962. The Dutch government too was prepared to sign, but the matter hit a dead end because the French government absolutely refused to leave an opening for other countries to accede to the cooperation in the future. Minister Andriessen points out that by now we have come several steps further. Speaker thinks that now, a European political union cannot be talked about. Minister Luns agrees with this. After the talk with Minister Spaak the conclusion was that at present no progress could be reached on this issue.

As far as the plans for the MLF are concerned, the British government will put its ideas forward to the American government. It is to be expected that in January the preparations will have advanced somewhat. After preparation by American and German experts, talks have been held between the American Secretary [of Defense] McNamara and the German Minister [of Defense] Von Hassel, the results of which are not yet known. In conclusion, speaker says that presently there is no hope for a European political union and that at this moment decisions on the MLF are not yet necessary.

Minister Toxopeus points out that for the ministers who have to act in the European communities, but also for the other ministers, it is necessary to know what exactly the relationships are. Speaker believes that it is insufficient for the council only to be orally informed of developments. It seems possible to him to give sufficient information about the MLF and all manner of EEC issues using short papers. This does not imply that the council would have to take decisions soon or at this time. Minister Luns is prepared to put some things in writing, but he must warn the council for disappointment since matters can be obsolete in a week’s time. He does not know of a Saragat plan and the Spaak plan was retracted immediately.

Minister [of Agriculture and Fishing] Biesheuvel wants to know the interrelation of the issues. In Brussels some progress may be possible economically, but politically things are stuck with France. In the newspaper one can read that Minister Luns and speaker disagree about the MLF, but the cabinet has no position on the MLF. There are those who say that we should try to reach progress with the ECC, while others want to aim at an MLF; in speaker’s opinion it will be necessary to achieve progress in both matters. When speaker was in Bonn he was told that an agreement regarding the MLF would have to be signed before late December, but when he returned to his car he heard that this had been postponed. Not only the attitude of President de Gaulle is the issue here, but the attitude of the German federal government is also uncertain. Speaker believes, however, that the cabinet should know internally which positions to take regarding these questions. Minister Luns says that the difficulty is that a clear policy is not possible, unless one is concerned with new possibilities in the future. For the moment the intentions of President de Gaulle are of great importance, but concerning these speaker is in the dark. A lengthy discussion in the Council of Ministers would change little about this. One can speak of the sphinx in the Elysée, who only says what he does not want.

Minister De Jong feels the need to hear how the study of the MLF and the other developments in this matter are going. A symposium will be held, with an eye to this, in the Juliana barracks on 24 November at 10 a.m. The ministers can also join this. Minister Luns would think it better if this symposium were not to be held within the organization of the military. The prime minister [Marijnen] thinks that it would be good for the ministers to receive as much information on the MLF as possible.

Minister Luns points out that originally the American military attached little value to the MLF, but presently they ascribe greater value to it. In conclusion, the prime minister says that it would be useful to receive information on the MLF from the experts. The council is not faced with imminent decisions, but it is good to have some insight into the chaotic situation. Minister Luns replies that the situation is also chaotic to the American government. Speaker will satisfy the request for a sketch of the situation.