HC Deb 21 November 1968 vol 773 cc1527-8
Q3. Mr. Molloy

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to initiate a European Heads of States meeting to consider establishing discussion in an endeavour to create a European Peace and Security Council.

The Prime Minister

I would refer to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in reply to a similar Question by my right hon. Friend on 14th October.—[Vol. 770, c. 26.]

Mr. Molloy

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the proposal is a logical step to follow up his own policy of achieving a detente, with the massive difference that, whereas the Warsaw Pact and N.A.T.O. are based on fear, if we can get such a conference started we might put sanity in the place of fear?

The Prime Minister

It is not only the policy of the Government and myself but of N.A.T.O. over a very long period to seek a detente with the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries. Some progress was made on a security conference in my talks with Mr. Kosygin in London and subsequently in Moscow, but my hon. Friend will be the first to recognise the serious blow to such hopes that the invasion of Czechoslovakia represented.

Mr. Thorpe

The Prime Minister was not unsympathetic to the Rapacki Plan, in itself a European initiative. Does not he think that here is a real opportunity for this country to take a European initiative and to be seen in the lead?

The Prime Minister

That is what we tried to do in our discussions with Mr. Kosygin in London and Moscow. We think that at the right time a security conference could be useful, provided it was properly prepared and was not just a sounding board for slogans and for advertising disagreements. It must be prepared, and the question of disengagement would have to be dealt with in relation to the general line taken by Her Majesty's Government on disengagement.

Sir C. Osborne

As the Soviet action in Czechoslovakia has put back a detente throughout Europe, what action does the Prime Minister feel he can now take to offset the difficulties that have arisen because of Czechoslovakia? Will he get on with it fairly quickly?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend and I—indeed, right hon. and hon. Members on both sides—when the House debated Czechoslovakia said that, while we must increase vigilance, there must be no return to the cold war and that we must keep before us the continuing objective of a detente. But the hon. Gentleman will realise that the shock to confidence and the growth of what my hon. Friend called "fear" as a result of that Soviet act means that it is premature to start picking up the pieces in the way the hon. Gentleman suggests.

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