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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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Conclusions 235

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235 Conclusions During the debate at the Bundestag on the CSCE on 25 July 1975 Willy Brandt made it clear that the signing of the conference’s Final Act ‘would bring no golden age’. However, the former Federal chancellor also stressed that the conference, while not affecting vital Western interests, had pro- vided opportunities, as ‘only through patient effort to promote détente would it be possible to change the present situation in Europe for the better’.412 British decision-makers, while welcoming Bonn’s legal rec- ognition of the consequences of the loss of the war in Eastern Europe and the prospect of reconciliation between the Federal Republic and its Eastern neighbours, understood fairly late the hidden agenda behind Ostpolitik. Britain regarded other objectives as important: the long term health of NATO, the state of Euro-American relations, the unity of the West, and the enlargement and consolidation of the European Com- munity. Between the formation of the Brandt government in October 1969 and the signing on 1 August 1975 in Helsinki of the CSCE Final Act, Britain provided firm but not necessarily uncritical support to Ost- politik, mainly viewing it as a positive Eastern policy, firmly rooted in the Federal Republic’s membership of the Western alliance and the Eu- ropean Communities. However, British decision-makers made this sup- port conditional upon a close co-ordination of Bonn’s initiatives with those of the Western allies and a reiteration of the rights of the Four Powers in Berlin and Germany as a whole. By contrast, the British...

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