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Documents on Germany, 1944-1959: background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Statement at Geneva by Prime Minister Eden, on European security, German reunification, and a demilitarized area, July 18, 1955,   pp. 147-149 PDF (1.3 MB)

Page 148

progress we can now make from the apparently fixed positions which
the great Powers on both sides then felt obliged to take. At the Berlin
Conference the Wesit proposed the unification to Germany with free
elections and the free right of Germany of [to] choose her own foreign
policy. Under the so-called Eden Plan Germany could have chosen
either association with the West or association with the East or
neutrality. But the Soviet Government was unable to accept that
plan. Yet we all know in our hearts that Germany must be united
and that a great country cannot be permanently prevented from freely
deciding its own foreign policy.
The reason why the Berlin Conference failed was because one of
the Powers there believed that a united Germany, rearmed and exer-
cising its choice to join the NATO alliance, would constitute an
increased threat to its safety and security. I am not now going to
argue whether those fears are justified. In these last ten years there
have been plenty of occasions for suspicions and alarms. These have
found expression in heavy armament programmes. To try to deal
with these issues in their wider aspect we have all agreed to work
through the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations. We
welcome the substantial progress which has recently been made there
and the important measure of common thinking which has now
emerged between the various proposals of the Western Powers and
those recently set before us by the Soviet Government. All these
discussions will go on, but, as we know, the immediatef need is to
make a practical start.
The urgent problem is how to begin the process of reducing tensions
and removing suspicion and fear. There is also the practical question
of how we can devise and operate together an effective control of
armaments and of armed forces.
To reunify Germany will not of itself increase or reduce any threat
which may be thought to exist to European security. Everything
will depend on the conditions under which reunification takes place.
I wish therefore now to suggest that we should consider a number of
inter-related proposals which are intended to do two things. First,
they are calculated to meet the apprehension of increased danger
which some at Berlin felt might follow the acceptance of our plan.
Secondly, they are intended to make a practical experiment in the
operative control of armaments. This, if locally successful in Europe,
might, as it were, extend outwards from the centre to the periphery.
If we can once establish a sense of security over the continent of
Europe-if we can create an effective system to reduce tensions here-
can we not hope that this first success will be the preliminary for
wider and more far-reaching understanding? We -have therefore
had in mind certain ideas which we think could be helpful to this end.
As I have said, our purpose is to ensure that the unification of Ger-
many and her freedom to associate with countries of her choice shall
not involve any threat to anybody. There are no doubt many ways
of doing this. To illustrate what I have in mind let me give some ex-
amples. These will consist partly of actions and partly of assurances.
Let us take the latter first. We would be prepared to be parties to a
security pact of which those round this [table] and a united Germany
might be members. By its terms each country could declare itself

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