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October 30, 1964

Meeting Minutes, Council of Ministers of the Netherlands, 'Foreign Policy'

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Council of Ministers

30 October 1964



2.Foreign policy


a. The posture of the French government


In response to a short discussion in the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom,_ftn0[1]  Minister [of Justice] Scholten asks whether more has become known about the ultimatum of President de Gaulle regarding the common grain price. The prime minister [Marijnen] reports that from the French side it has been stated, after the return of President de Gaulle from South America, that they will no longer participate in the work of the EEC if the EEC Council does not take a decision about the common grain price by the middle of December. This statement also contains the element that the French want to place the responsibility for a failure of the Kennedy Round with the German federal government; they say that they cannot take a position with regard to the Kennedy Round as long as the EEC has not reached agreement on agricultural policy. Speaker is also under the impression that President de Gaulle will distance himself even further from NATO if an MLF is created. It is known that one of these days Chancellor Erhard will circulate a piece that does not only deal with a European political union, but also with other issues of the EEC. Herein, however, the establishment of a common grain price is not dealt with. Although the German government wants to look for a certain formula for this in order to be able to continue with the Kennedy Round, this does not mean that the French government will accept this.




2 b.The issue of the MLF (See minutes c[ouncil].[of ]m[inisters]. 23 October 1964, point 2 d)


Minister [of Finance] Witteveen would like to raise the issue of the MLF. He has the feeling that a decision about this is closer at hand than was initially expected. Speaker has concerns about the MLF, in particular concerning its financial side. From the telegrams he gets the impression that in his talks, Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Luns is moving in the direction of Dutch participation in the MLF. Speaker himself is becoming increasingly distant from it, not only because of the financial objections, but also because of the split within NATO that is to be expected. He has read that the French government intends to use its veto in NATO against the creation of the MLF. If this is the case, speaker wonders if the political significance of the creation of the MLF is as great as assumed.


The prime minister does not have the impression that Minister Luns, in his talks with [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Saragat in Rome and with [Secretary of State] Rusk in Washington, has created binding ties with regard to the MLF. Minister Witteveen did not mention binding ties. The prime minister thinks that in this matter, Minister Luns has not gone beyond that which was agreed upon in the Council of Ministers. The Italian Minister Saragat believed that Italy would participate in the MLF, if England would participate in it. Speaker shares Minister Witteveen’s feeling that a new political analysis with the pros and cons of the MLF is necessary. During the visit that Minister Luns and speaker made to Bonn, the creation of the MLF turned out to be of great significance for German domestic politics, but currently the CDU [Christian Democratic Union] is locked into a truce of God seeing as the Bundestag elections will be held next year. It is also unclear whether the MLF will lead to integration or disintegration; speaker is thinking about Scandinavia and France. Keeping the Federal Republic from creating its own nuclear weapon is a negative consideration, which also involves the question of whether participation in the MLF would be sufficient to dam those currents in the Federal Republic that strive for a German nuclear weapon. Minister Witteveen remarks that the Russian government does not see the MLF as a form of non-proliferation. The prime minister believes that this need not be a decisive argument, but there are several other arguments which make renewed consideration desirable.


Minister Scholten also thinks this is necessary, if the government does not want to be overtaken by the development of these matters. The government will have to follow a clear policy with regard to these problems. To a significant extent, the question is whether the government will act in accordance with the will of President de Gaulle or not. Minister [of Education, Arts and Sciences] Bot agrees with this definition of the problem; this is also where he finds fault with Minister Witteveen’s argumentation. Minister Scholten also thinks that the entire French approach is at issue here. He feels the need to discuss this in a future meeting of the Council of Ministers; this will require a good amount of time.


Minister [of Defense] De Jong does share the prime minister’s and Minister Witteveen’s concerns, but does not believe that this problem has presently become more urgent. From the telegrams he concludes that Minister Luns has not said more than in the Council of Ministers, but also that these affairs are no longer so pressing as to require a rapid decision. The Americans now too speak about February or March and no longer about a decision in 1964. Defense and Foreign Affairs are working on a symposium to gain insight into all sides of this problem. As far as the French are concerned, speaker notes that these did not believe in the idea of an MLF; they ridiculed and trivialized it, but they now realize that the American government will force its establishment through. Minister [of the Interior] Toxopeus asks whether the ministers could be sent a written representation of the symposium.


The prime minister regards a discussion of this problem in the presence of Minister Luns necessary; this is also more significant now that Minister Luns has first-hand information from the concerned countries, especially since this is a quickly evolving matter. Minister Witteveen also regards a discussion in the Council of Ministers as desirable. He has the impression that the Dutch representatives in the talks about the MLF are taking a very positive attitude toward the MLF. Minister De Jong also had the impression that the Dutch representatives in Paris were rather obliging; it is therefore important that the Dutch ambassador to NATO, Dr. Boon, also participate in the symposium.


State Secretary [of Foreign Affairs] De Block states that Minister Luns will meet the American Secretary Rusk for a second time after the conference of ambassadors. During the first talk, mainly the independence of European defense was discussed. The American government is irritated by French statements that they will take care of defense themselves, while this is only possible under the umbrella of American defensive power. The American representatives said that they have progressive ideas about the defense of the West, but as long as the French president is taking this posture they cannot voice these ideas.


The prime minister proposes to continue these discussions in a future meeting, on the basis of a paper that will be prepared to this end.



_ftn_GoBack0[1] Whereas the Council of Ministers is composed of all Dutch ministers and the prime minister, the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom also includes the ministers plenipotentiary of the other three constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, viz. Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten (Saint Martin), and normally meets once per month.

The Council discusses the attitude of the French government regarding the negotiations about a common grain price and the Kennedy Round, which impact considerations regarding the desirability of the Multilateral Force (MLF). In the discussion of the MLF itself, it is increasingly clear that the position of the French and how the other states will deal with it are crucial for the project’s prospects. On the one hand it seems the Americans will push the MLF through regardless, but on the other hand the initiative seems to have lost some of its urgency. The Americans have signaled to the Dutch their irritation with the attitude of the French.

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National Archives, The Hague, Council of Ministers, access number, inventory number 753. Obtained and translated by Bastiaan Bouwman.


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