NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

31 May. 1984

Washington Statement on East-West Relations

issued by the Foreign Ministers at the North Atlantic Council Meeting

  1. At their meeting in December 1983 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member countries of the Alliance, on the initiative of the Foreign Minister of Belgium, decided that the Council should undertake an appraisal of East-West relations with a view to achieving a more constructive East-West dialogue.
  2. The appraisal has confirmed the continuing validity of the balanced approach contained in the Harmel Report of 1967. To ensure the security of members of the Alliance, the most appropriate long-term policies are the maintenance of adequate military strength and political solidarity and, on that basis, the pursuit of a more stable relationship between the countries of East and West through dialogue and cooperation. These elements are complementary: dialogue can only be fruitful if each party is confident of its security and is prepared to respect the legitimate interests of others: military strength alone cannot guarantee a peaceful future. Experience points to the continuing need for full, consistent and realistic implementation of the two main tasks of the Alliance set out in the Harmel Report.
  3. In pursuit of this approach the Allies sought to alleviate sources of tension and to create a propitious climate for expanded cooperation. Steps such as the Berlin Quadripartite Agreement, improvements in relations between the two German states with positive results for individuals, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) I accords including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) were the fruits of this policy. However, progress towards the expansion of human contacts and human freedoms remains unsatisfactory. Individuals have nonetheless benefitted from increased opportunities for contacts and communication.
  4. At the same time, the Soviet Union engaged in a massive military build-up. This poses a continuing threat to Alliance security and vital Western interests. The Soviet Union has sought to exploit any apparent weakness which it has perceived on the part of the Alliance. Further, Allied restraint has not been met with reciprocal restraint by the Soviets. Instead they have pursued a relentless campaign to breach the solidarity of the Alliance. Soviet willingness to threaten or use military power for political ends has been exemplified most notably in the invasion of Afghanistan and pressure on Poland 1.
  5. Notwithstanding continuing fundamental differences between countries in East and West, the Allies remain convinced that there exist areas where common interests should prevail. These include the need to safeguard peace, to build confidence, to increase security, to improve mechanisms for dealing with crises, and to promote prosperity. To this end, the Allies remain determined to build upon these and other areas of common interest in pursuing their efforts to promote more constructive dialogue and cooperation with the members of the Warsaw Pact with a view to achieving genuine detente.
  6. The Allies support the continuation and strengthening of the CSCE process which represents an important means of promoting stable and constructive East-West relations on a long-term basis. They insist on the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act and the Madrid concluding document in all their parts. While important agreements have been reached within the CSCE framework, much remains to be done. Any improvement in East-West relations would be incomplete if individuals were not able to benefit from greater respect for human rights and increased human contacts.
  7. The Allies will continue to be guided by the awareness of a common history and traditions of all European peoples. Given the continuing division in Europe and particularly Germany, the Alliance continues to support the political aim of the Federal Republic of Germany to work towards a state of peace in Europe in which the German people regains its unity through free self-determination.
  8. Neither side must seek unilateral advantage, military superiority or dominance over other states. Mutual respect for each other's security on the basis of equality of rights, non-use of force as called for in the United Nations Charter and other current international agreements, restraint, and respect for international rules of conduct are essential for strengthening confidence and Cooperation.
  9. The Allies respect the sovereignty and independence of states everywhere and genuine non-alignment. This is reflected in their political, economic and aid relations with other countries. Responsible Soviet behaviour world-wide would be an important contribution to a durable improvement in East-West relations.
  10. The Allies recognise that, as members of the Alliance, their vital security interests can be affected by developments outside the Treaty area. They will engage in timely consultations on such developments. They underline the responsibility of all states to prevent the transfer of East-West differences to the regions of the Third World. They would like to see the benefits of peace, stability, human rights and freedom from interference which they themselves have enjoyed for over 35 years secured in other areas of the world as well.
  11. On a basis of unity of purpose and assured security, the Allies reaffirm their offers to improve East-West relations, made most recently in the Declaration of Brussels of 9 December 1983. They propose that particular efforts be devoted to the following:
    1. dialogue, cooperation and contacts at all levels on the full range of questions between East and West - including political and security problems, human rights and bilateral matters - aimed at increasing mutual understanding, identifying common interests, clarifying objectives, expanding areas of agreement and resolving or isolating areas of disagreement;
    2. mutually advantageous trade and economic cooperation with Warsaw Pact members on commercially sound terms which are consistent with Allies' broad security concerns, which include avoidance of contributing to Soviet military strength;
    3. achieving security at the lowest possible level of forces through balanced, equitable and verifiable agreements on concrete arms control, disarmament and confidence building measures.

To these ends, the Allies concerned will continue in particular:

  1. to emphasise the readiness of the United States to resume bilateral negotiations on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) and Strategic Arms Reductions (START) with the Soviet Union at any time without preconditions and to call on the Soviet Union to return to the negotiating table 2;
  2. to work for progress at the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) negotiations where they have recently made new proposals to break the impasse on conventional force reductions;
  3. to urge the world-wide elimination of chemical weapons which is the objective of the United States draft Treaty tabled at the Conference on Disarmament;
  4. to press at the Stockholm Conference (CDE) for agreement on concrete measures, as proposed by the Allies, designed to build confidence and ensure the openness of military activities in the whole of Europe, thus reducing the risk of surprise attack and the threat of war. In order to give further effect and expression to the existing duty of all participating states to refrain from the threat or use of force in their mutual relations, agreement would be necessary on the above concrete measures in accordance with the Madrid mandate.
  1. The purpose of the Alliance is exclusively defensive: none of its weapons will ever be used except in response to attack. The Alliance does not aspire to superiority, but seeks a stable balance of forces. Defence and arms control are integral parts of the security policy of the Alliance. The legitimate security interests of all countries must be respected on a reciprocal basis. The cohesion and security of the Alliance, based on a firm linkage between its European and North American members, and reinforced by close consultations, remain the foundation for the protection of their common interests and values. In the course of carrying out their appraisal, the Allies have confirmed their consensus on the conduct of East-West relations and their commitment to a constructive East-West dialogue.
  2. Peace and stability require a united effort: the Allies look to the Soviet Union and the other Warsaw Pact countries to join in an endeavour which would be of benefit to the world at large. The Allies are prepared to do their part and are ready to examine any reasonable proposal. A long-term, constructive and realistic relationship can then be brought about.
  1. Greece and Spain reserve their positions on this paragraph
  2. Greece reserves its position on this sub-paragraph 136

Last updated: 25-Sep-2009 17:00