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European Co-Operation And Security

Volume 886: debated on Wednesday 19 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the Conference on Co-operation and Security in Europe.

The conference continues to make steady progress. Useful agreement was recorded before the Christmas break on the principles of human rights and self-determination, on family reunification and on marriage. Since then we have been trying, with our partners and allies, to push matters forward on some of the central issues which remain outstanding, and my right hon. Friend and I had useful discussions in Moscow on these matters.

In view of what the Prime Minister said yesterday about the possibility of a summit conference arising out of the CSCE, will the right hon. Gentleman now state specifically what provisions and guarantees the United Kingdom and its allies still require and which they have not obtained from the Soviet Union regarding, first, prior notice of troop manoeuvres and, secondly, the freer flow of people and information, before they will agree to a summit conference?

These are the issues—two of which the hon. Gentleman outlined—which are at present holding up the summit conference. They are confidence-building measures, such as the prior notification of manoeuvres and the areas in which the manoeuvres should be notified. I was interested to read that, unusually, the Soviet Union made a public announcement of manoeuvres only on Monday last. On the hon. Gentleman's second point, about human contacts, the principle has still to be worked out. It is not yet in a condition which is final. There is a third problem to which the hon. Gentleman did not refer—the question of how frontiers can be changed peacefully. That is particularly important not only to Germany but to other countries.

Has my right hon. Friend noted that included in the joint statement issued with the Russian Government was a phrase about the need to translate political détente into a military détente? Does this mean that there is any hope of successful progress and that the security conference can be used to break the deadlock in the mutual and balanced force reductions talks, which show every sign of being about to grind to a halt?

I do not think that they are about to grind to a halt. I think that that conference has been very slow but this will continue until the CSCE, to which the question is addressed, come to a conclusion. My hope is that, when the CSCE is coming to a conclusion, we will then find more movement in the mutual and balanced force reductions talks in Vienna.

Did the right hon. Gentleman discuss with Russian Ministers while he was in Moscow the question of broadcasts in the English language by the Soviet Government? Is he aware that there are regular morning broadcasts in English appealing to the British people to vote "No" in any referendum on our membership of the EEC?

No. I was not aware of that, but on the whole I think that outside propaganda is likely to be counterproductive. I would not think it necessary to make representations on that issue.