Primary Sources

NATO Statement of the Future of East-West Relations

Description

On December 3, 1989, following the summit meeting in Malta between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in which the leaders attested to an historic shift in US-Soviet relations, Bush traveled to Brussels to report on the meeting to a special summit of NATO leaders. The next day, Bush delivered a speech in which he discussed the issue of German reunification. Since the Berlin Wall had fallen on November 9, West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl had issued a 10-point reunification plan, while England, France, and the Soviet Union cautioned against reunification. Bush laid out a four-point policy stipulating that the US would back reunification if it was decided by voting in both Germanys; if it was initiated gradually; if Germany remained in NATO; and if border changes complied with the principles of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, a condition that would prevent a united Germany from claiming territories it had lost due to World War II. Bush’s stated principles were adopted by NATO as a whole when they were incorporated into the following communiqué issued following a NATO meeting later in the month. The communiqué included language and proposals expressed by Secretary of State James Baker in a speech he gave in West Berlin two days earlier, calling for NATO to design “a new architecture” to adapt to a “new Europe, whole and free.” In addition, the communiqué reflected French and Soviet calls for a 1990 summit meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), whose 35 member nations represented NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and neutral countries. A few days after the issuance of the communiqué, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze indicated that his government was giving “careful and scrupulous study” to the document. The US soon changed its policy, however, believing that East Germany would not be able to function for long as an independent nation.

Source

Manfred Wörner, "Final Communiqué, 14 December 1989," speech, Brussels, Belgium, 1989, NATO, Online Library, NATO (accessed April 3, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

For the past two days, we have met for an intensive review of the accelerating political change in Central and Eastern Europe that is evidence of a profound transformation underway in the nature of post-war Europe. We stand at the threshold of a new era in which the democratic values which are at the heart of our Alliance and part of the European heritage are increasingly shared throughout the continent. Our task is to help advance and consolidate that welcome movement towards greater freedom within conditions of peace and strengthened stability. We have discussed ways to seize new opportunities to bring our vision of an undivided Europe of the future to reality. . . .

Overcoming the Division of Europe . . .

9. We are witnessing rapid progress towards democracy and freedom in the GDR and the Eastern sector of Berlin. The restoration of freedom of movement was a particularly moving event. The Wall, which has divided Berlin for nearly three decades, has been breached. . . .

We seek the strengthening of the state of peace in Europe in which the German people will regain its unity through free self-determination. This process should take place peacefully and democratically, in full respect of the relevant agreements and treaties and of all the principles defined by the Helsinki Final Act, in a context of dialogue and East-West co-operation. It also has to be placed in the perspective of European integration.

The Continued Importance of the Alliance . . .

13. . . . Recalling the origins of the North Atlantic Treaty as a political alliance built upon common fundamental values, our leaders affirmed at the May 1989 Summit that the Alliance must reintensify its own efforts to overcome the division of Europe. In doing so, it must take up new challenges. Our task therefore is to use actively and creatively the potential of our Alliance in the pursuit of political change within stability. Our political approach in support for positive change must be multifaceted and dynamic, seeking to encourage political pluralism, free flow of information, and cooperative action in dealing with common problems.

The Future of Europe . . .

15. Looking to the future we recognise the outlines of the political architecture of a Europe made whole and free, in the emergence and shaping of which we are determined to play a full part. We will further work to strengthen Western political and economic structures. The process of European integration will be central to the future of Europe, and its institutions are already playing a significant role in encouraging the forces of reform forward in Central and Eastern Europe. . . .

16. In this context, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) is destined to acquire a growing and central importance in all its aspects. It will continue to offer both an agreed set of principles for promoting peace, greater co-operation and democratic values and a means of giving these principles practical substance and effect.

How to Cite this Source

General Secretary Manfred Wörner, "NATO Statement of the Future of East-West Relations," Making the History of 1989, Item #49, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/49 (accessed October 26 2014, 1:11 am).