Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria

Speech made to the Assembly

Wednesday, 5 May 1976

Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a particular honour and pleasure for me to be able to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe today.

Twenty years ago Austria became a full Member of the Council of Europe and I myself was privileged at the time to be a member of the Austrian delegation.

During these last twenty years, experienced Austrian parliamentarians have made the contribution you expected of them in the Consultative Assembly and its committees, as have members of the Federal Government in the Committee of Ministers.

We are proud in Austria of the fact that the day before yesterday the Parliamentary Assembly once more elected as its President the Chairman of our Foreign Affairs Committee, the Deputy in the National Council, Karl Czernetz, one of the most outstanding parliamentarians in the Second Republic. I should not like to miss this opportunity of thanking you.

The Austrian Federal Government recently gave expression to its close relations with the Council of Europe in a government declaration of 5 November 1975 which states among other things:

“The Federal Government will continue in future to give all possible support to European co-operation between states with pluralistic and democratic social systems.

Accordingly it will seek above all to ensure that the Council of Europe once again plays the part in the movement towards European unity which it had when it was founded.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, Austria is situated on the edge of that long demarcation line stretching from Lübeck to Trieste, the dividing line between the political systems in Europe. Today that line is more accurate than ever because Greece and Portugal have become democracies.

On our side of the dividing line, Spain alone has not yet completely developed a democratic system and we can only hope that the transition to democracy in that country will take place peacefully and that no human lives have to be sacrificed on the way. The great majority of the Spanish people want a democratic form of state as a political basis for their freedom. It should be the bounden duty of the Council of Europe to support those forces which are working to that end. (Applause)

Today, almost the same number of human beings live in the Western states as in the East. If we assume that Spain will become a fully fledged democracy, there will be 340 million human beings living in democratic Europe and about 375 million in communist Europe.

Whenever therefore we speak about Europe we must constantly remind ourselves of this situation, and the European task seems to me to be twofold. One aspect whose importance has been fully recognised in the Council of Europe is the need to achieve the greatest possible degree of integration; the second is equally fundamental for the survival of a peaceful continent, namely the achievement of peaceful coexistence between both parts of Europe.

I myself was aware of that situation when I spoke strongly in favour of a conference on security in my last speech before the Council of Europe on 25 January 1971. I said at the time:

“There are certain conferences which, in the long run, are by their very nature unavoidable. Which is why I do not think simply agreeing to such a conference should be made a far-reaching political issue.”

And I concluded by stating:

“The meaning of any European security conference must lie primarily in the confrontation of all viewpoints concerning European policy, though overshadowed at the same time by the problems of world policy.”

And indeed, before we came together for that conference in Helsinki this confrontation took place. The documents signed there are indeed the record and protocol of problems arising out of that confrontation.

My support for the holding of a security conference makes it my duty today to say something about the policy of détente.

I feel all the more compelled to do this because I have the feeling that in democratic states it is this problem which has become the subject of conflicting opinions.

I recently maintained that today – whatever we may think about détente – there is no acute danger of war in Europe, nor are there any areas of tension apart from Cyprus, and that problem concerns two member states of the North Atlantic Alliance.

The main need is to realise that détente exists and can exist only if a balance of military power between the super-powers has been achieved. The same cause which was once the prerequisite for the policy of coexistence is now the basic condition for a policy of détente.

And if it is true that the prerequisite for a policy of détente is military equilibrium in the world, then it must also be correct to say that any change in that equilibrium is bound to affect the prerequisite for the policy of détente.

I admit that I am making these statements very apodictically and that I am unlikely to give much pleasure to my interlocutors in Eastern Europe, but I should like to assert just as apodictically that there is no alternative to a policy of détente. I would go further and say that it has also produced obvious results.

I would ask you not to take it as an example of my own preoccupations if I prove what I have said by using the historical example of Austria. Although I must first add that the policy of détente, like any other policy, has repeatedly suffered setbacks and gone through relatively long periods of stagnation.

In the last twenty years many have asked me how I could explain the fact that the Soviet Union agreed to conclude the State Treaty at that time. How it was possible that at that time the Soviet army could withdraw about 50 000 soldiers from the heart of Europe, i.e. from Austria.

Polite but critical observers always linked these questions with the remark that naturally they had the greatest respect for the ability of the government of the day and considerable admiration for the skill of Austrian diplomacy, but nevertheless they were unable to accept those two facts as an adequate explanation for this particular development.

Indeed, whilst acknowledging the tribute paid to us, I must admit that the full explanation is that the Soviet Union, led by Nikita Khrushchev,

was anxious at the time to give concrete proof that it was once more worth while sitting down with her at the negotiating table.

Khrushchev was unable to embark upon that course without overcoming considerable internal resistance. He writes about this in his memoirs, which I regard as authentic, as follows:

“The Austrians paid me the tribute of ascribing to me a leading part in the decision to withdraw from Austria, and they are quite right.

They had no idea of the bitterness of the internal struggles which took place before we were able to sign the State Treaty and I do not deny the fact that it was on my initiative that this correct decision was finally taken.”

Furthermore, this statement by Khrushchev reveals that before the implementation stage is reached, Soviet policy is also subject to differences of opinion and clarification. I myself was a member of the delegation which went to Moscow to pave the way for the treaty.

At the time many people throught that this was a trick – that the Soviet Union had decided to take this step in order to force the other occupation powers to withdraw from Austria likewise. These observers thought that in this way the whole of Austria would more easily fall victim to domination by the Soviet Union.

As you see, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am speaking very candidly. But I should like to say just as candidly here that in the twenty-one years since the conclusion of the Austrian State Treaty – that is a long time, almost a quarter of a century – there has not been one single attempt by the Soviet Union to exert any form of pressure on the Austrian Government, nor has Austrian sovereignty been threatened at any time.

Admittedly, the Soviet Union held that unduly close relations with the European Economic Community would not be compatible with Austrian neutrality. But the agreement finally achieved was scarcely the subject of conversations between the two governments.

And in view of this, I believe that I am right in saying that an area of détente came into being in the middle of Europe which constituted the most important condition for the remarkable prosperity of our Republic and the growing well-being of our people.

Austria’s State Treaty did not mean the end of the cold war but it was the beginning of a new phase. Several other examples could also be given:

Were we not repeatedly deeply anxious about the fate of Berlin? How often was that divided town threatened and endangered by a renewed blockade? Admittedly, we cannot close our eyes to the barbaric reality of the Berlin Wall, but nevertheless things have become quieter around Berlin.

Another very recent example: during the upheavals in Portugal there were fears on more than one occasion of foreign intervention. The situation would have been a delicate one because the fleets of the two super-powers sail the Mediterranean and movements of warships off Portugal’s coasts might undoubtedly have had a considerable influence on the train of events in that country. But that did not happen, and less than fifteen days ago the Portuguese people were able to elect their parliament freely after fifty years of dictatorship.

Angola will be cited as an objection. I can answer that by saying that I am speaking of what is happening in Europe. The other continents – and this is indeed a characteristic feature of our time – have not experienced the same degree of relative détente.

I should particularly like to stress that if we were still in the cold war era, many events in recent years would have taken a more dramatic turn. Détente, like coexistence, is not a state of true peace.

In my view it cannot be denied that this continent has reached a high degree of relative détente and it seems to me that the European democracies are duty bound to pursue the policy of détente constructively, and critically, if you wish. Because only the progress of that détente can guarantee their existence, and I believe it is high time to practise that policy because the next conference is not far off; as you know it will take place in Belgrade in 1977.

To repeat what I have said clearly and frankly: it seems to me that it is the duty of the European democratic states not to adopt a constantly defensive attitude towards this question of détente but to decide upon a more imaginative policy. (Applause)

In what fields can the policy of détente be effective in the future? Since the war, the economy of democratic Europe has developed in an astonishing manner. The progress made is beyond all imagination. Admittedly, the movement towards European integration, the European Economic Community, the Coal and Steel Community, and EFTA acted as a catalyst. But the fact remains that one of the great weaknesses of the economy of the democratic states is that they possess scarcely any raw materials.

We must remember that, for the time being at least, 98 % of our oil supplies still come from the outside world, mainly the Middle East. Eastern Europe, at least for the time being, has more energy resources than the West. The reserves of energy in the European East, particularly in a number of important countries of the European East, are indeed considerable.

And it seems to me by no means unrealistic for the West to take the initiative in calling for an all-European project for the use of energy. This will by no means be able to solve our problems but it will be a considerable contribution. I have good reasons for saying that. A start has been made between Austria and Poland and I think it has been an exemplary start.

Another problem of considerable pan-European importance, and I have been raising this matter for more than twenty-five years, is the development of a European network of waterways. On my way here I believe I passed over three canals, a remarkable experience for a Central European.

I admit that this problem is particularly urgent for European states with no coastline, but it is equally so for regions in other states far removed from ports, for example southern Germany.

This is a very special problem for Austria because it is a heavy burden for an industrial state if large machines weighing between 150 and 300 tons cannot be transported in one piece as could naturally be done by water. In this connection the “Europa Canal” has a vital part to play. It is of economic importance for at least nine European countries in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.

Another example is the Danube-Oder-Elbe Canal which is the Eastern counterpart of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, the so-called “Europa Canal”. This gigantic project is economically and financially feasible only by means of a project going far beyond the sphere of the states immediately concerned. I would even say that much could be done to implement this important project, which is important for Europe as a whole, if, in particular, the financial power of the European West could be placed at its disposal.

Lastly, I should like to put forward an idea in this connection and formulate it in a way which may seem surprising to some. I maintain that the policy of détente mainly serves the cause of democracy, for only if there is détente in Europe can there be liberalisation, although I am under no illusions as to its extent. Hitherto, liberalisation policy has always come to an end when it began to turn into democratisation. Then the tanks promptly stopped the process.

And much of what is happening in the countries of the Eastern bloc today, spiritual resistance and the possibility at least to emigrate, can be understood only by the efforts of the governments of the East not to appear too visibly to distort the Helsinki conclusions.

In that connection I should like to warn you against the idea that it will be possible to overcome communism with the help of a policy of détente. That would be a tragic illusion; but nevertheless is would be wrong to underestimate the trends towards liberalisation.

Admittedly, the Western world, the democratic world, has almost forgotten what happened in 1968 in Czechoslovakia. At best, those events have become a chapter in the martyrology of mankind. But the whole development in European communism, these critical trends, that urge towards independence from the central power of the movement have given polycentrism a new lease of life.

I said that just now that, as some critics of the policy of détente in the West repeatedly say, we cannot expect it to change the internal system. Moreover, we undertook in Helsinki not to interfere in each other’s affairs. That task can be left to no one but the peoples who are themselves concerned.

Ota Sik, the former Czech Minister for Economic Affairs and one of the initiators of the Prague Spring who is now Professor at the College for Economic and Social Sciences in St Gallen, upholds the – what seems to me somewhat optimistic – view that in the long run the progressive forces will win through. He even maintains that liberalisation might mean the abolition of “state-controlled planning, the independence of firms, the reintroduction of market relationships, and the linking of those relationships with modern industrial macroeconomic planning”.

Accordingly I should like to conclude this part of my statement by saying that I by no means share the pessimism and doubts about the future of European democracy which are sometimes expressed. On the contrary I believe that it is surely more than a prestige victory for democracy if Communist Parties cast aside communist slogans and their favourite texts and say that they wish to support democracy more strongly than hitherto.

As an aside, I would add that in my view concrete policy is what matters rather than what is sacrificed. In any case one of the many crucial questions repeatedly facing these parties is their attitude towards European integration.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in this connection I should like to discuss in more detail an idea to which I gave expression some time ago.

Just as democratic states come together periodically to consider not only the economic problems which they have in common but also those they share with the third and fourth worlds, I think it should be possible, when the President of the United States has been elected, to meet to consider the problems of a strategy for détente, for political co-operation; perhaps from the point of view of developing states. What I have in mind is certainly not an extension of systems of alliance or military questions, but what the democratic world could do to develop the infrastructure of Africa more rapidly than is the case today.

I have discussed this problem on a number of occasions. This strengthening of links with the African states seems to me essential, if only because I do not see how otherwise it will be possible to prevent the further polarisation of the United Nations and thereby its paralysis.

The North-South dialogue which has begun in Paris and which, as is known, is aimed at organising international economic co-operation in the four key sectors of energy, raw materials, development questions and financial and monetary problems between the industrial states on the one hand and the developing countries and oil-producing countries on the other, would have a better chance of succeeding if the partners in OECD already had clearer political ideas of the objectives to be achieved.

I would go so far as to say that in my view there should be at political level an institution comparable to OECD in which exchanges of political views could take place similar to those held by the member states of OECD in the economic field.

I know that this idea of a group comparable to OECD in the political field may well be difficult to put into practice and that doubtless we shall remain at the stage where private institutions seek to fill that gap.

Nevertheless I felt that the Council of Europe might well consider that idea and that such a body might meet under its auspices.

It will be objected that this is already taking place in the Communities. But I am not satisfied, because the community of democracies is much larger than the existing European organisations. Furthermore, the voices of the United States and Canada and those of the neutral states of Europe should also be heard in this connection.

I am not anxious that we should find a common line, that does not seem to me the most important thing – what is more, the Communist Parties of Europe are unable to do so –- but rather we should have a genuine exchange of views which would in itself be creative.

I know that it is sometimes said that the Council of Europe has increasingly lost its tasks, that it cannot solve them and that other organisations are beginning to take them over and that accordingly much of what it plans to do is bound to founder on the rocks of harsh political reality.

I do not share that view. Much as I respect all that is happening in the European Communities and although I fully realise the great things that are being done there, they do after all represent only nine European states and democratic Europe today consists of twenty states.

Thus about 100 million people from eleven states still live outside the Community. They find a framework for their European solidarity only in the Council of Europe and, to adapt the well-known words uttered by a Czech historian about old Austria, if the Council of Europe did not exist it would have to be created.

And among the questions to be debated here is that concerning the way in which the states outside the Community can be enabled to strengthen their links with the Community; for when all is said and done, who can deny that an important part of Europe remains outside the Community?

As far as Austria is concerned, I am only too ready to say what we think about the matter: namely that there should first be discussions in the European Free Trade Association on the possibilities in this field. That debate should take the form of those held in earlier years in EFTA on co-operation with the member states of the European Economic Community which led in 1972 to the conclusion of the eight agreements on free trade, in Brussels.

I can already hear your objection to that proposal.

In view of the meagre results obtained in the field of a joint monetary and economic policy, we should not aggravate the situation yet further.

My answer to that is that this argument was always put forward to delay negotiations with EFTA. I maintain that the 1972 agreements could have been concluded some years earlier.

To facilitate developments, the Council of Europe should devote a debate to that subject.

Originally the Council of Europe gave concrete expression to a vision and it was set up to keep that vision alive. It seems that at present we are passing through a crisis in European integration. It is undoubtedly true that it has been impossible in recent weeks and months to reach agreement on many things and the existing institutions of European integration were not able to master the crisis-ridden developments in the economy and currency system.

And yet, however sceptical I may be about the new economic revival and its duration, I do believe that we were able to avoid a serious crisis similar to that in the thirties because the European economy has become much more resistant in many respects. It is more resistant above all because of the degree of integration already achieved which, in my view, is irreversible.

Anybody who realises what effect a long economic crisis might have had on the social system and the stability of democracy as a whole and what an obstacle it would be to progress will appreciate particularly the relative shortness of the latest crisis.

In recent decades the European idea has been one of the pillars of European democracy. Its success remains one of the most essential guarantees of its creative force. The Council of Europe is its conscience. (Applause)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

I should like to thank the Federal Chancellor, Mr Bruno Kreisky, most sincerely for these interesting remarks which will undoubtedly stimulate our debate. I hope Mr Kreisky will be prepared to answer questions. There are no written questions.

Before I call for questions I should however like to say that in the official gallery we have a number of former Austrian and German members of the Parliamentary Assembly as our guests. I have not received a list, but I shall try to recognise them individually and that is not easy.

But I should like to begin my list with the name of a former member of the Assembly who is not sitting in the gallery but in the first row, namely Federal Minister Mrs Firnberg, who was for many years a member of the Assembly. I can recognise from where I sit the Austrian Ambassador, Mr Gredler, I recognise the MP, Mr Mark, the Viennese Town Councillor, Peter Schieder. I recognise Ernst Paul, Luise Herklotz, Mr Kleh, Mr Kopf and Mr Hannsheinz Bauer. May I ask all those whom I have not recognised to forgive me. I welcome these guests most warmly. (Applause)

I forgot to mention the Austrian MP, Mr Goëss, I include him in my warm greetings.

Mr Karasek wishes to ask the first question. I call Mr Karasek.

Mr KARASEK (Austria) (translation)

Federal Chancellor, we were considerably interested to hear you call, if I understood you correctly, for the development within the Council of Europe of a constructive exchange of views with other states, particularly the other member states of OECD. I am happy to inform you that we have already done something along those lines. Last spring we adopted a recommendation to our Committee of Ministers in which we requested the Committee of Ministers to instruct the Secretary General to engage in exploratory talks with the Governments of Canada and the United States with a view to developing concrete proposals aimed at the active participation of those states in the intergovernmental co-operation of the Council of Europe, at least in matters which were particularly interesting for those states. In my view, your call today can only strengthen this Assembly in its belief that we have developed a correct idea. It has, so to say, the blessing of your authority. I can only hope that the Committee of Ministers will be ready to follow up the recommendation in that spirit. Thank you.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

I know that the main aim is to establish to what extent it has been possible to implement the agreements reached in Helsinki. I believe, however, that efforts should be made in a much more concrete and, indeed, I would almost say, challenging way to bring about discussions concerning very concrete projects, and in any case as a member of the Austrian Federal Government I have not yet heard anything of proposals emanating not from here, not from the Assembly, but from the Committee of Ministers. I can say on behalf of the Federal Government that we in any case are not only very interested in such activities but would be most willing to co-operate.

Mr LEWIS (United Kingdom)

The Chancellor has spoken of his long association and direct contacts with the Soviet Union. All of us here pay tribute to him for his great work for democracy. I wonder whether he could, officially or unofficially, do anything about arranging on or off the record discussions between representatives of the Soviet Union and of the Council of Europe, perhaps even in Austria if an independent meeting place were felt advisable. The Chancellor might help towards off-the- record or on-the-record discussions concerning post-Helsinki détente, on an unofficial basis. The Chancellor would probably be the ideal man to look into such possibilities, if not to arrange such discussions.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

As far as I am concerned, I feel obliged to say that the tasks which the Austrian Federal Chancellor has to perform are so extensive, particularly at the present time, that their fulfilment, in conjunction with the very limited foreign policy tasks which I have also set myself for many years, requires so much time that I really could not assume further responsibilities.

Second, there is no need for a particularly confidential procedure in order to persuade the Soviet Union and the states of Eastern Europe to take part in such a confrontation, in such a discussion. I believe we should do this quite openly. Indeed, I believe that the policy of the democracies, if I can use a military term which goes very much against the grain as far as I am concerned but I know of no better one, should be much more offensive towards Eastern Europe, I mean offensive in the context of the democratic situation without any military connotation.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you. I should like to add, Federal Chancellor, that the Foreign Minister, Mr Bielka, is aware of some of our modest efforts in this field. Perhaps it might be possible to extend these activities so that they take the form of just such an intellectual confrontation and discussion.

Who wishes to put a question?... Mr Coutsocheras from Greece.

Mr COUTSOCHERAS (Greece) (translation)

In welcoming you, Mr Chancellor, may I ask you to reply to the following question: What are your views on the relations between the two super-powers and the other countries?

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

That is a question which I would answer differently after lunch than here in the Assembly. (Laughter) I believe that the super-powers have a definite need to preserve good relations with their allies. But I also believe that they have an equally definite need to be alone when dealing with certain questions. I would go so far as to say that this is one of the main reasons why SALT exists. SALT is the only institution which enables the two super-powers to meet directly and legitimately and to inform all the other powers as far as they deem necessary.

Furthermore, experience shows – I come from a small country – that in peacetime at least – and that would be a good lesson for other times – it is wrong to be unduly impressed by the size of states. (Applause and laughter)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you. I have three further questioners.

Meanwhile, thanks to the good German eyesight of the Secretary General, Mr Kahn-Ackermann, I have received a list of German guests which horrifies me because I did not recognise them. Our old friend Carlo Schmid is in the gallery, together with Günther Serres, Fritz Corterrier, Heinz Pôhler, Agnes Maxsein, Mr Rutschke, the Bundestag’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Military Affairs, Willi Berkhan, Fritz Rinderspacher, Max Seidl, Mrs Diemer-Nikolaus, Heidi Meermann, Professor Reiff and Freiherr von der Mühlen.

May I apologise to you for not recognising you, but the Secretary General has better eyesight. We welcome you all most warmly. (Applause)

The next question comes from Mr La Combe.

Mr LA COMBE (France) (translation)

My question is essentially a political one.

We are on the eve of important events in Italy and it is quite possible that in a few days’ time a considerable political change may take place in the government of that country.

Furthermore, as the Chancellor knows, the Yugoslav head of state is no longer young.

These two facts taken together may have a definite and even very serious effect in changing the balance of power in the Mediterranean.

The question I want to put to the Chancellor is this: Does he believe that a communist government in Italy would be acceptable, or does he think such a government might lead to very great changes in Europe?

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

When I went to the secondary school I had a maths teacher, a modern educationist, who allowed a boy to ask for another question if he was unable to answer the one put to him. (Laughter)

I should be tempted to ask Mr La Combe to put another easier question. But nevertheless I shall try to answer both these questions in such a way that the answers are to a certain extent meaningful.

Italy is one of Austria’s neighbouring states. In addition to the fact that we are neighbours, we are linked to Italy by centuries, indeed thousands of years, of cultural association.

We have no wish, and I certainly not, to interfere in any way in the domestic affairs of Italy. But I should like to say that Italy is a democratic state and this question can therefore be answered only by the Italian people and nobody else. I shall go so far as to say: not even by a Foreign Minister from any state in the world. This is solely – and that is one of the consequences of democracy – a matter for the Italian people who will take the decision. Whether we like it or not, these are the rules of democracy.

Regarding the second question, I should like to say with deep conviction that I believe that the present President of Yugoslavia has put his house so well in order – including military affairs – that in my view the concern sometimes voiced is groundless. (Applause)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you. I have three further questioners.

In the meantime the list of additional names is growing. My attention has been drawn to the fact that I failed to discover my Austrian colleague, Mr Gabriele. We met yesterday. The German Deputy, Mr Drager, and Mrs Pitz-Savelsberg are also here. I understand that the lists are still being extended.

The next speaker is Mr Mattick.

Mr MATTICK (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

Mr President, I should first like to ask the Federal Chancellor whether he shares the view put forward this morning by one of the Rapporteurs that the Brezhnev doctrine is still completely in force.

Second, I should like to ask the Federal Chancellor what he thinks of this opinion: my view of the development of the attempts by the Soviet Union and the East German leadership to convene a meeting of the Communist Parties of Europe and then of the world is based on the development of the preliminary negotiations so far.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

The Brezhnev doctrine has stood rather for a political practice in the Soviet Union than a clearly formulated policy. Accordingly it is not possible to compare the Brezhnev doctrine formally with the Munroe doctrine.

The practice itself was horrible and goes back to the time before Brezhnev. I expressly said in my speech that as soon as the process of liberalisation begins to turn into one of democratisation, the tanks come into action. That is a lesson we learned in Hungary and also Czechoslovakia. I should be guilty of considerable negligence if I maintained that this would not happen next time. In any case, I cannot do so.

I repeat that this policy has produced this trend towards polycentrism. It is for me a shattering experience to realise that although the Western world has almost forgotten the events in Czechoslovakia – I say that only in passing – these remain far more alive within the Communist Parties. The main cause for developments in Italy can be found in the Czech events. That must not be underestimated. It explains quite a few things.

I certainly have no intention of contradicting the report by my colleague from the Austrian Parliament in this way. I simply believe that what is likely to happen in certain circumstances depends very much on what policy the democratic West pursues.

Perhaps I should not say that here, but in this case too, as Khrushchev said in connection with the Austrian State Treaty, there were naturally serious internal disputes which were decided by a particular power group. I cannot say more.

Regarding the convening of a communist world conference, I cannot imagine that to seize the bull by the horns in this way will produce very much. In any case all attempts to find a common platform have failed so far. Even the very idea of convening a conference will probably not meet with unanimous approval.

The situation has been developing. I can only repeat what I said earlier and say it more plainly: if a party believes that it can win additional support from its people only if it produces evidence of loyalty towards democracy, then surely we must welcome it without drawing unduly far-reaching conclusions about the future of the Communist Parties. (Applause)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you.

The extent of my omissions is beginning to frighten me. I have just been informed that Mr Weihs, who was for many years our colleague in the Council of Europe and later became Federal Minister, is sitting next to Ambassador Gredler. I must inform you of that. I also welcome him most warmly. (Applause)

I call Mr Mendelson.

Mr MENDELSON (United Kingdom)

After listening to the profound analysis and the statesmanlike realism of the Chancellor this morning, may I express the hope that, time permitting, he will make it a regular feature to visit our Assembly from time to time?

He talked about the position of Austria being in the heart of Europe and his concern that there should be a continuous development of the 100 million, as he put it, who are Europeans. I have felt, like many others, that no particular grouping – be it the Nine or any other – should take the name of Europe just for themselves. Does he envisage in future practical ways and means by which we could make sure that no rigidity develops and that Austria, the Scandinavian countries and the EFTA countries – to which my country, the United Kingdom, belonged for so long, although we are now members of the organisation of the Nine – remain together politically? Would the Chancellor elaborate a little on this point, which I found profoundly interesting?

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

The remaining EFTA states have a wide variety of reasons for not seeking full membership of EEC. I shall not attempt to interpret the policy of other countries, but some facts are well known, for instance the results of the referendum in Norway.

In Austria’s case considerations concerning our permanent neutrality do not allow us to fulfil all the commitments arising out of membership. I am not qualified to speak here about other neutral states.

Therefore I believe that this should be discussed within EFTA, because loyalty requires the member states of EFTA to consider this question again. I should not like to anticipate such an examination; for my part I would say, and I accept responsibility for my own remarks, that I can well imagine that there are areas of European integration in which Austria should and could take part and make a valuable contribution without affecting the problem of our permanent neutrality in any way.

To that I would add that the treaty we signed with EEC contains provisions and it seems only right that some of these should be implemented. And then there is a particularly concrete problem – and I now speak as an Austrian – in that our agriculture is now sufficiently developed to permit a further examination of this subject between EEC and Austria.

Mr CORNELISSEN (Netherlands)

With reference to the interesting remarks Mr Kreisky made about the Main-Donau Canal, I wish to ask him two questions.

First, what consequences will this connection have for Western Europe’s current economic problems in the inland waterways transport as a result of the existing over-capacity?

Secondly, what action is being taken to prevent as much as possible undesirable effects on the inland waterways transport on this canal?

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

I should perhaps like to answer what I understood or grasped. If I understood correctly, the question was as follows: What influence would the development of the canal system have on the other forms of transport by water, the ports. Was that the question?


I have in mind the existing economic problems in the inland waterways transport because of over-capacity in Western Europe. I presume that, by this connection, the problem may become even more difficult as I assume that the capacity in Western Europe will increase.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

I can only give a very limited answer to that question. I have considered the matter.

The situation is as follows. Work on about 500 km out of, I believe, 600 km of the Europa Canal has now finished. Therefore the canal has practically been completed. It is simply a question of finance whether this will be done in the early 1980s or in the second half of that decade. That mainly concerns German budgetary policy. And therefore the project will not be held up.

This waterway may perhaps place financial burdens on the public authorities. I cannot say that today, but it is by no means impossible. Clearly, however, it can be said that this canal will improve the transport situation in the heart of Europe to a very considerable degree.

I can illustrate that by giving you an example. Today, if our largest company, which has 80 000 workers and employees, has to send out a consignment of goods to the West or to a port, that is done by first using water transport to Regensburg. There it is transferred to the railway and sent by rail from Regensburg to Nuremberg where it is once more off-loaded on to barges and sent on by water.

You can imagine what a fantastic handicap that is for Austrian industry by comparison with other countries which have to cover relatively short distances to reach ports. But that does not apply only to Austria but also to much of southern Germany and also a large part of Eastern Europe, Hungary etc. That is one point.

The second factor is, as I have said, improved transport facilities. Certain goods can only be transported successfully by water.

Thirdly, I should add that this canal will improve the transport situation in Europe in that Europe’s roads are overcrowded. Anybody who finds himself on a European main road today is constantly wedged between gigantic lorries which sometimes completely block the traffic. European roads are much more expensive, terribly overcrowded and harmful to the environment. A modem transport policy will therefore favour the development of water communications for many of these reasons, even if, as the managers of the European railway authorities maintain, the latter lose business to the waterways. I do not believe such assertions. If the managers were always right, many enterprises which have in fact remained perfectly solvent would have gone bankrupt over the last fifty years.


I thank Mr Kreisky very much for his reply, but my question remains. Is there any consultation at present to ensure that undesirable effects of the economic problems existing in Western Europe as a result of the over-capacity will be avoided as much as possible?

I believe that people working in this branch, such as people working on the Rhine, have the right to know that a special interest is taken in their problems. It is very likely, for example, that the capacity on the Rhine will be increased considerably when there is a straight connection with the Eastern European system. I do not object to that. However, I feel that we should make it clear that attention is being paid to the enormous problems which may arise in a few years’ time. I am somewhat surprised that Mr Kreisky in his reply, as far as I understood it, did not deal with this enormous problem.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

All the economic data at our disposal point to the fact that there would be a considerable improvement.

There are even estimates that the pro capita income of the population living near waterways is higher than that of the population living away from them. An enormous amount of information on this is, in fact, available.

Admittedly there is an aspect which I cannot go into here, namely that the final development of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal might alter the conditions in the Rhine and even harm them. That problem will have to be studied. Nevertheless, the canal is almost complete. That aspect should have been studied earlier, but I do not think it would have been possible.

That is certainly something that I cannot answer. Apart from that I only know that the economic aspects are entirely positive, although the railways which will be affected, e.g. the Austrian and German Federal railways, have adopted a negative attitude. That is all I can say on that problem.

Mr VEDOVATO (Italy) (translation)

Mr President, I have asked for the floor partly to express my gratitude, and partly to put a question, but in my capacity as Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee rather than as a member of the Italian Senate.

I was much impressed by what Chancellor Kreisky said on account not so much of his conviction, which we all share, that détente contributes towards democracy, as of what he had to say about the Council of Europe’s activities and future prospects. If I am correct, the Chancellor, like Kurt Waldheim, the Secretary General of the United Nations, when addressing us yesterday, was concentrating on two main issues, issues which concern my own committee and to which our debates yesterday and today have been directed and which will be on the agenda of future meetings also: I mean North-South relations and the follow-up or results of the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference.

Now for my questions. The Chancellor suggested that to complement OECD which, as an intergovernmental organisation, has no parliamentary assembly, the Council of Europe might to some extent take on that role. In fact, as Mr Karasek partly implied, the Council has for some time been doing just that already, by taking the opportunities presented by the Assembly’s debates on development problems and the report on them presented by OECD’s Secretary General. That is the reason for the presence of delegations from OECD member countries which are not also Members of the Council of Europe. Meanwhile, a Council of Europe policy, designed in some sense to provide a parliamentary forum for an intergovernmental organisation which has none of its own, is in process of development. Hence, the hope expressed by the Chancellor – and it is in this framework that we view North-South relations – is yet another encouragement to us to try to move in that direction.

The second thing I have to say and which constitutes the specific object of my question is this. Today, many international organisations, many international parliamentary organisations, as well as international parliaments themselves, are considering the implementation, the follow-up of the Helsinki Conference. We are fortunate today to have with us some representatives from the Finnish Parliament and I should like to stress how particularly glad we are that a Finnish delegation should be taking part in this debate on the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act.

Does the Chancellor think, in view of the wide vistas opened by his speech to which we have listened with such great interest today – I am putting the question to him because, in addition to his own personal authority, I regard Austria as representing the best hinge or joint between Europe of the Nine and Europe of the non-Nine and beyond – does he think that this Parliamentary Assembly of ours will be able in some way in the future to be used as a debating, or discussion ground for the vast number of problems that may arise in connection with the implementation of the Helsinki Conference? I mean, of course, debates and discussions at parliamentary level.

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

I was present at the time at the discussions concerning possible links between OECD and the Council of Europe. As far as I remember we once considered how far we should take the non-European states into consideration. But I should not like to say anything about that problem because I do not know it well enough.

But it seems very possible to me to support the argument that there should be no European institution without a complementary parliamentary institution, because national control of such institutions is bound to be a hindrance owing to a lack of specialisation and information which prevents the national parliaments from dealing with such complicated questions. If it were possible therefore – and Austria would undoubtedly be in favour of this – to establish even closer relations between the Council of Europe and OECD, we should undoubtedly welcome it.

I should like to repeat what I said yesterday in a television interview: the Council of Europe is extremely valuable for us because it is the only European forum in which the non-member states of the European Communities come together. Nothing else exists.

Theoretically there is an economic body which covers all Europe, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, but for the democratic states of Europe which are not Members of the Communities there is only the Council of Europe. Therefore – and I say this again – the Council of Europe must acquire even greater influence.

Clearly all states which realise that are even more enthusiastic about the Council of Europe than others for which that constitutes an additional burden.

Therefore I am in favour of doing everything possible in that direction.

I should like to answer the second question, which is also very delicate, as follows: all the European institutions set up as a result of the great speech by Churchill in front of the Cathedral in Zurich were defensive in nature. At all events that seemed to be a part of the great resistance action in the cold war, the policy of containment, and proved its worth as such.

But the result was that these institutions acquired a completely different character in the period of major tensions. For that reason also, I believe that the policy of détente is a very sensible one because it has taken away a little of this character from the European institutions and makes them more conscious of their real tasks. If détente develops yet further, I am convinced that it will be easier to make the Council of Europe something even more comprehensive than it is already.

I should like to say one last thing about which I have long felt very deeply: in the last resort the Council of Europe will mean as much as the Members of the Council of Europe are able to make it mean in their national parliaments. (Applause)

Mr FAULDS (United Kingdom)

Mr Kreisky, you have been more forthright than most European leaders, indeed more than most European politicians, on the rights of the Palestinians. Whether you know it or not, this Assembly needs educating on this matter. Would you care to make a comment on the rights of the Palestinians?

Mr Kreisky, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Austria (translation)

When I was here four years ago, I said in my speech that if there were to be a conference on security in Helsinki, it would have to put the problem of the Middle East on its agenda because, in my opinion, the state of tension in the Middle East is vitally important for Europe and because a real danger of war can arise in that area.

I did not say that only here in 1972, I had been saying it much earlier for many years. The oil problem was no surprise to me – I have no wish to appear conceited in saying that now – but I have written and spoken about it.

My opinion today remains the same. I believe that this problem is of vital importance for Europe and so great that it could not be left only to those concerned and now to the superpowers. I believe Europe has a duty to commit herself somewhat more strongly in this field.

Nevertheless I am not in a position to discuss this very complicated problem as thoroughly as

I should like to. I can only give a personal impression after my visit to, I believe, eleven Arab states and long talks with leading statesmen.

After very thorough and critical consideration and as a person who has met many people in his life and been obliged to take part in complicated negotiations, I believe that at the present time it is worth making a genuine attempt to reach a peaceful solution. I believe that today there are more chances – I would put it even more cautiously – for the initiation of such negotiations than ever before. In the Arab world people have realised the limits which exist here. The Arab world has realised that Israel exists, that it cannot be destroyed and – as several very intelligent statesmen say – must not be destroyed, because, as a very intelligent man said to me, it would be impossible to do without such a distinctive civilisation in that part of the world which he called the Arab world, particularly the contribution which it could make.

Accordingly there has been a certain amount of re-thinking in that part of the world. I do not wish to be too optimistic, but in my view there are certain chances for a positive beginning.

Nevertheless three major problems exist, and there would be no point in minimising them. First, there are calls for the recognition of the Palestinian people, because everybody believes that this is a just solution and because the Palestinians are playing a decisive part in all Arab countries. Indeed, they are a very progressive part of the Arab world. Second, there are increasingly strong demands to the effect that the recognition of the Palestinians as a people must be followed by a territorial solution – although I do not wish to go into details here. And, third, there must be a readiness in principle – and that is an extremely intricate problem – to give back the territory conquered after 1967. I would remind you that I am talking of 1967 and that is a very important date.

I realise that it will be extremely difficult to satisfy these three demands, but I cannot imagine that it will be possible to ignore them.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you very much. Nobody else wishes to speak.

I should like to thank Federal Chancellor Kreisky most sincerely for his extremely interesting and thought-provoking statement. I should also like to thank him for answering questions. That, too, will prompt us to think more about the matter.

I hope that Federal Chancellor Kreisky will have a pleasant stay in Strasbourg and also those who have accompanied him here. On behalf of the Assembly I wish you a pleasant stay in Strasbourg. (Applause)