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Britain, Ost- and Deutschlandpolitik, and the CSCE (1955-1975)

Luca Ratti

Based on new and existing archival documentation, this book provides a detailed analysis of the British attitude to Bonn’s Eastern and inner-German policies during the period of détente and the CSCE. Each chapter analyses the evolution of British policy on a particular issue area, making detailed comparisons of British and West German archival sources and outlining the main aspects of the British view of West Germany’s relations with the Soviet bloc states and the German Democratic Republic. Drawing upon the archives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and of the West German foreign ministry, this book sheds new light on some of the more occult aspects of the British attitude to the German question and reveals the problems faced by British decision-makers in seeking to maintain Britain’s close ties with Bonn, while being hardly enthusiastic about the long-term prospect of German reunification. This volume addresses issues of East-West and Anglo-German relations, the role of NATO, and the debate among the Western allies on relations between the two German states during the period of détente.


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Chapter 2 - Britain and Willy Brandt’s Neue Ostpolitik (1969–1971) 69


69 Chapter 2 Britain and Willy Brandt’s ‘Neue Ostpolitik’ (1969–1971) 2.1 Introduction This chapter discusses the British attitude towards the central theme of this book: the Ost- and Deutschlandpolitik of the Federal German gov- ernment that was formed in October 1969 following the alliance be- tween the social democrats and the free democrats and was headed by former West Berlin mayor Willy Brandt. While the British authorities welcomed in principle the advent of a more active Eastern policy by the Federal German government, there was concern in London about the long term implications of the Ost- and Deutschlandpolitik, particularly, about their possible consequences for British rights in Berlin and Ger- many as a whole. More specifically, British decision-makers feared that in order to finalise an agreement with Moscow, the new West German government may put at risk Western and British rights on Berlin and the German question. Furthermore, there was also concern in Britain that Ostpolitik might weaken the Federal Republic’s commitment to NATO and Western European integration at a time when the British government was negotiating its adhesion to the European Communi- ties. These concerns became particularly strong following the forma- tion in June 1970 of a conservative government in London under the leadership of Edward Heath, the signing in August 1970 of the Mos- cow treaty between the FRG and the Soviet Union, and the signing in December 1970 of the treaty of Warsaw between the Federal Republic and Poland. In the final months of 1970 the...

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