January 16, 1958
Deputy Minister Winiewicz, 'Record of Conversation with the Ambassador of Great Britain on the 16th of this Month'
This document was made possible with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)
January 16, deputy minister Winiewicz’s record of conversation
with the ambassador of Great Britain
on the Rapacki Plan and the Soviet disarmament proposals
Warsaw, January 16, 1958
of conversation with the ambassador of Great Britain
on the of 16th this month
The British ambassador Sir Eric Berthoud arrived today, late in the afternoon (6 p.m.) in order to deliver a copy of Macmillan’s letter to Bulganin, on explicit instructions of his government. Macmillan’s letter, which is a reply to Bulganin’s letter of December 11 of last year, was also submitted in Moscow this afternoon, will not be published in British press until tomorrow.
Berthoud began by stating that he operates in accordance with special instructions of the British government. Macmillan’s letter, he continued, contains a passage on the Rapacki Plan. The British government did not want the Polish government to learn about it from the press, and that is why it ordered, out of courtesy to deliver a copy of the letter to us immediately after it was delivered in Moscow and before publicizing it by the agencies, the radio and the dailies. The section on the Rapacki Plan reads as follows:
“The new suggestion is the proposal to negotiate an accord between the nuclear powers so that no weapons of this type would be manufactured or stationed on the territory of Germany, Poland or Czechoslovakia. The proposal, already put forward by the Polish government, does raise certain obvious objections, but the British government analyses it with a view to seeing whether it contains elements that could be the basis for some alternative proposal.”
I replied that we fully appreciate the courteous gesture of the British government, and that we are grateful for acquainting us with this weighty document. But I wish to point out that we expect the British would take a stance on the Polish proposal in an indirect reply addressed to us. Berthoud took it up with a remark that the Rapacki Plan is still being analyzed in London, and that the British government will certainly take a stance in talks with Poland. He added that a certain difficulty arose – at least for him personally – namely, deciding what form should the British reaction to the Rapacki Plan take. It was presented for the first time at the UN forum. In turn minister Rapacki recalled the plan in the context of his December conversation with the ambassadors of France, the United States, and Great Britain on the eve of the NATO [meeting], putting strong emphasis on understandable Polish apprehension as to Germany’s remilitarization and arming the FRG military with nuclear weapons. However, the Polish government did not submit any proposal to Great Britain in the form of a note.
I replied that we treat the Rapacki Plan as a Polish contribution to the breaking of the international disarmament impasse and to international détente. Our position is that we should propose a small step – realistically speaking – but nevertheless one that is substantial and specific. We expect a reply via diplomatic channels, the same one that we used after our appearance at the UN. We are prepared to discuss it. I pointed at Rapacki’s interview for the Sunday Times, among them one of the replies regarding control.
Finally, Berthoud – in reference to my conversation with him on the 11th of this month – asked when he could see comrade Jędrychowski regarding the details of inviting a delegation of Polish planners (some four people) to Great Britain. I replied that in this respect I still wait for comrade Jędrychowski’s decision, and I believe I would be able to inform him in a matter of a few days.
The way Macmillan’s letter was submitted to us is unprecedented in the diplomatic relationships between Poland and the West, at least in the many past years. It demonstrates how seriously Great Britain began treating its diplomatic contacts with us. From my considerations with Berthoud and with Beam (9th of this month),31 I was under the impression that they would wish to obtain further details about the Rapacki Plan, if possible, in writing; they also want to determine the connection between our plan with the Soviet proposals.
Let me recall the importance that London attaches to the Polish proposal and the 'very serious and sympathetic study' it is given of which I also heard from Selwyn Lloyd’s temporary replacement, secretary of state at the Foreign Office, Ormsby-Gore at a courtesy visit I and Milnikiel paid him on December 18 in London, on the way from UN [headquarters]. On his own initiative Ormsby-Gore also explained that they cannot aid the development of Polish-British trade by offering Poland more extensive loans, because they are having considerable financial problems themselves. But he did promise to back our application to GATT, and to the International Bank and the Fund.32
In today’s conversation with Berthoud we obviously did not discuss the substance of Macmillan’s letter. What we should note, however the measured tone of the letter, the upholding of the idea of singing a non-aggression pact and a complete openness for further negotiation.
I suggest that you release a communiqué about Berthoud’s visit to our press.
AMSZ, z. 23, w. 14, t. 163
31 See doc. no 9.
32 Poland was granted observer status in GATT in October 1957. In 1959 during the 15th GATT session that convened on 26 October–20 November in Tokyo, declaration on Poland’s associate GATT membership was adopted (it become effective on November 16, 1960) see docs no 37, 113, 245 and 290; see also 'Polskie Dokumenty Dyplomatyczne, Polish Diplomatic Documents , 1959, doc. no 83, 161, 399 and 454. Poland was a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Monetary Fund until 1950 (rejoined in 1986).
Winiewicz details his conversation with Ambassador Berthoud, in which they discuss Great Britain's consideration of the Rapacki Plan and Prime Minister Macmillan's public statement regarding the plan's merits.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].