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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 4 - Britain, the conclusion of Ostpolitik,and the CSCE (1972–1975) 167


167 Chapter 4 Britain, the conclusion of Ostpolitik, and the CSCE (1972–1975) 4.1 Introduction Although Ostpolitik drafted well on into 1973, the most contentious issues between the Federal Republic and the Soviet bloc states had been substantially settled by 1972. By then, also the process of East-West détente had made conspicuous progress. In May 1972 Nixon had vis- ited Moscow and signed the SALT agreement. In June the Foreign Min- isters of the Four Powers had signed the final protocol of the quadripar- tite agreement on Berlin, while in November preliminary talks were opened in Helsinki on a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. The completion of the Eastern treaties package carried signifi- cant importance for most European states, Britain included, as it marked the end of a fundamental chapter in East-West relations. Détente was approaching its height in Europe but Britain had not played a decisive role in its key passages, particularly in the successful conclusion of the quadripartite negotiations on Berlin. The British foreign policy agenda, while remaining attentive to the developments of Ostpolitik, was fo- cused on the pursuit of another primary objective for Britain through admission to the European Communities. The British government and the FCO continued, however, to support the Federal Republic’s East- ern policy, including a rapprochement between Bonn and Prague, al- though reservations persisted in London about for a European security conference and its implications on the cohesion of the West and the transatlantic alliance. 168 4.2 Ostpolitik and...

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