Geneva Conference of the Heads of Government of the Four Powers 1955

Geneva Conference of the Heads of Government of the Four Powers (1955)

 

a conference of the heads of government of the USSR (N. A. Bulganin), the USA (D. Eisenhower), Great Britain (A. Eden), and France (E. Faure) held on July 18-23 in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition to the heads of government, the foreign ministers and other officials of the countries represented at the conference took part in its work. (The Soviet delegation included N. S. Khrushchev, G. K. Zhukov, and A. A. Gromyko.) Among the items on the agenda were the German question, European security, disarmament, and the development of contacts between East and West.

In response to the Western powers’ objections to a Soviet draft proposal (1954) for an all-European Treaty on collective security in Europe, the Soviet government presented to the conference a plan for achieving European security in two stages, with both the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 and the Warsaw Pact of 1955 remaining in force during the first stage. Moreover, pending the signing of an all-European treaty, the Soviet government proposed that the member states of the European military-political groupings conclude a pact renouncing the use of their armed forces against each other and pledge to settle all disputes by peaceful means.

The Soviet delegation opposed Western plans to eliminate the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and draw all of Germany into the Western military bloc. These plans were disguised in a program to unify Germany through “free elections.” The Soviet delegation stressed in particular that the plans to unify Germany by mechanically merging its two parts could not succeed, because they failed to take into account the existence on German territory of the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR—two autonomous states with different social and state systems. Pointing out the need to normalize relations between the two German states, the Soviet delegation advocated their participation in a system of collective security in Europe.

On the question of disarmament the Soviet government took into consideration the closing of the gap between its viewpoints and those of the Western powers, as a result of the Soviet proposals of May 10, 1955. The USSR advocated the implementation of some basic disarmament measures on which the positions of the powers either totally coincided or had come much closer to each other. However, the Western powers evaded a constructive discussion of the Soviet proposals and refused to adopt any concrete decision. (The US government proposed a discussion only of an exchange of military information between the USSR and the USA and the taking of aerial photographs of the two countries on a reciprocal basis.)

The heads of state favored the development of economic and cultural ties between East and West. During the conference there was an unofficial exchange of opinions on pressing problems in Asia and the Far East. In its adopted directives, the Geneva Conference made the foreign ministers responsible for continuing to consider the questions that had been discussed by the heads of government. For this purpose, the Geneva Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the Big Four (1955) was convened.

PUBLICATION

“Zhenevskoe soveshchanie Glav pravitel’stv chetyrekh derzhav: Dokumenty.”Novoe vremia, 1955, nos. 30, 31 (supplement).

I. D. OSTOIA-OVSIANYI

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