257 Walker to Evatt
Cablegram 43 PARIS, 1 March 1947, 9.05 p.m.
In accordance with your instructions I saw Monsieur Bidault today.
He was very pleased to receive your personal message, and asked me to convey to you his warm greeting.
2. We discussed the lack of progress being made in arranging a democratic procedure for full participation of all active belligerents in negotiation [of the Peace]' treaties. M. Bidault said the French Government was in complete agreement with Australia on the principle involved, but the difficulty was to persuade the Soviet to accept any practical arrangements to give effect to it. He admitted that the French proposals by no means provided for adequate participation by countries such as Australia, but he begged us to consider them as an attempt made in the course of discussion, and in the light of the Soviet attitude to gain at least some ground for democratic principle. He added that there were bound to be several sessions of the Council of Foreign Ministers before this question of procedure was settled, and that Australia would have plenty of time to criticize particular proposals made and to submit alternatives.
3. I then referred to the emergence of the conception of certain neighbours of Germany as being more directly interested than distant countries such as Australia despite the greater contribution of the latter to the defeat of Germany. I said that such a conception would not be admitted by the Australian people who had voluntarily waged war with large forces against Germany, even though they knew that in doing so, they were exposing Australian territory to grave danger from Japanese aggression. I suggested that it would have most unfortunate consequences if Australia and the other Dominions were obliged to believe that their help was welcome, when there was fighting to be done, but not when it came to planning peace. I drew attention to the danger from Australia's own viewpoint that if the Dominions do not participate fully in the negotiation of the Peace, they cannot feel so responsible for whatever settlement is adopted, and may lose their present interest in the problem of European security.
4. M. Bidault repeated his assurance that France recognised both Australia's right to full participation in view of her massive contribution in both wars, and also the importance of retaining Australia's voluntary interest in the European settlement and said he would continue the struggle to secure the adoption of more democratic procedure.
5. I suggested that not sufficient weight had been given to the positive contribution that Australia and the Dominions can make to the solution of many problems arising in connection with Germany and Austria. I stressed the advantage of bringing to bear an independent view based on a wider perspective than could be had from Germany's neighbours and reminded M. Bidault that Australia and some of the other Dominions had special knowledge and experience of problems of federal Government which throw important light upon such proposals as those recently made by France regarding Germany's constitution.
I said it would be most imprudent not to take full advantage of our knowledge when considering whether the treaty should impose a constitution upon Germany. This point appeared to be a new one to M. Bidault and to impress him as important. You may consider it worth following up in other quarters also.
6. I drew special attention to your views that a general conference was essential as well as adequate arrangements for participation in detailed preparation work.
M. Bidault said he agreed and had even considered the possibility of referring some of the wider issues to the United Nations. I replied that Australia stood on her rights as an active belligerent which were quite different from those of members of the United Nations which had merely declared war.
7. We touched also on Austria. I said that Australia's views of procedure were similar to those relating to Germany. M. Bidault said he did not regard Austria as so important and that although he had no objection to the Dominions taking part in the conference on Austria, he was concerned over the tactics that would be followed by Ukraine and White Russia. He went on to say that he had received reports that the Soviet intended shortly to ask him to receive separate diplomatic representatives from all sixteen republics of the Union. If true this may indicate a most important development of Soviet policy.
8. The interview closed with M. Bidault's renewed assurance that he agreed with you in principle, and would do his best to achieve a true diplomatic procedure. Meanwhile he would welcome any detailed views you might wish to send him.