Ministerial Communique

  • 27 May. 1992
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  • Last updated: 04 Nov. 2008 23:22

  1. The Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation met in Ministerial sessions in Brussels on 26 and 27 May.
  2. In the new political and strategic environment in Europe, we reaffirm the need to develop fully the potential of dialogue and cooperation within all of Europe in order to help defuse crises and prevent conflicts, recognising that the Allies' security is inseparably linked to that of all other states in Europe.
  3. We attach importance to the achievement and implementation of arms control agreements as a means of enhancing our collective security. We look forward to the CFE Extraordinary Conference in Oslo next month providing the basis for ratification of the CFE Treaty and its entry into force in time for the Helsinki CSCE Summit. Full and early implementation of the CFE Treaty is an essential element of a stable and secure Europe. We also look forward, in connection with the entry into force of the CFE Treaty, to early agreement on CFE IA, and to the implementation of the Open Skies Treaty.
  4. In adapting to the changing European security environment, the Alliance has now entered a new era of cooperation in which we are playing a full and active role. A first meeting of NATO Defence Ministers with cooperation partners took place on 1 April and was followed by a meeting of NATO Chiefs of Defence Staff with their counterparts on 10 April. These meetings successfully advanced the process of cooperation by offering practical advice and assistance. Preparations are well under way to develop an initial cooperation programme in defence related matters involving seminars, workshops and the provision of expert assistance. To start our programme, we plan to hold a seminar on the role of armed forces in democratic societies early in July, with further activities to follow later in the year.
  5. As was agreed in Rome and Maastricht, NATO remains the essential forum for consultation and agreement on policies bearing on the security and defence commitments of its members under the Washington Treaty . The Alliance's core security functions remain unchanged, including NATO's fundamental responsibility for the defence of Allied territory. The continued presence in Europe of forces from North America remains indispensable in this respect.
  6. We reaffirm our support for the development of the WEU as the defence component of the European Union and a means to strengthen the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. We welcome the enhancement of the WEU's operational capabilities in ways which will be compatible with and complementary to NATO's collective defence arrangements, and which will help to ensure the necessary co-operation and mutual transparency between the political and military structures of the two organisations. In this context we noted that, in accordance with the Maastricht Declaration, the WEU member states are engaged in identifying forces answerable to WEU drawing on those with NATO or national roles. We stressed the importance of maintaining existing assignments to NATO of forces being considered for use by the WEU, recognising that the primary responsibility of these forces is to meet the collective defence commitments of the Alliance, under the terms of the Washington Treaty. We agreed that, as the transformation of the Alliance proceeds, we intend to preserve the operational coherence we now have and on which our defence depends. Giving all European members of the Alliance the possibility of fully participating in WEU activities will also be an important element of the relationship between the two organisations. We look forward to the further development of the European Security and Defence Identity, strengthening the solidarity and cohesion of the transatlantic partnership.
  7. In the light of the current discussions concerning the strengthening of the CSCE process through cooperation with existing organisations, we exchanged views on the contribution that NATO might make in support of the conflict prevention and crisis management mechanisms currently being developed by the CSCE. We looked ahead to the outcome of the forthcoming meeting of the North Atlantic Council and the CSCE Summit in July. We would be prepared to consider ways in which resources and expertise within the Alliance might, if it so decides, be made available for CSCE peacekeeping activities.
  8. During our discussions we also expressed our deep concern over the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, and in Nagorno-Karabakh and beyond, including Nakhichevan. We express our strong support for the various efforts of the UN, the CSCE and the European Community to end the fighting and bring about peaceful settlements. We appeal to the parties involved to end the conflicts.
  9. The Alliance is continuing to implement its Strategic Concept. In particular, we are introducing new force and command structures. In our Defence Planning Committee meeting we reviewed the restructuring and significant overall reduction of our conventional forces. Work on the restructuring of the Main Defence Forces is well under way. Particular progress has been made towards establishing the Alliance's new Reaction Forces. The flexibility and mobility of these forces make them ideally suited for rapid and selective employment, to assist in crisis management or to respond to aggression. Our multinational Standing Naval Forces will constitute the core of our maritime Reaction Forces. Last month we inaugurated the new Standing Naval Force in the Mediterranean which takes its place alongside the long- established Standing Naval Forces Atlantic and Channel. The ACE Reaction Forces Planning Staff and the Reaction Force Air Staff will become operational by October 1992 and Spring 1993 respectively. The Headquarters for the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps will have an initial operational capability by October 1992, building up to full operational capability by 1995. The Headquarters of the Multinational Division (Central) will become operational in 1994 and that of the Multinational Division (South) in 1995.
  10. We are streamlining existing structures and procedures and we will continue with our efforts to achieve further savings in order to make best use of future scarce resources. In this context, we approved a new command structure for Allied Command Europe and Allied Command Atlantic down to Principal Subordinate Command level. This will provide leaner command and control arrangements while maintaining their effectiveness and their essential contribution to the strategic unity and cohesion of the Alliance. When these changes are implemented, the reductions in the number and size of NATO military headquarters will achieve manpower savings in the order of 20%. Issues concerning the Southern Region, including command arrangements below the Principal Subordinate Command level, are subject to further study.
  11. We noted with approval the new Force Goals, which will guide the implementation of the new force structure, and that current national plans are to a large extent in line with them. However further work is needed, in particular in the areas of support, mobility, interoperability, readiness and availability and reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities. We expect that planning for the new structure will be completed in the 1994 planning cycle. As we implement the new structure, resource constraints will reinforce the need for an even greater coordination in formulating priorities both nationally and within the Alliance.
  12. Crisis management principles and procedures are being developed in line with the enhanced emphasis placed on crisis management in the Strategy. Planning for the implementation of the new reinforcement concept, which sets out the requirement for selective and flexible build-up and draw-down of forces, is now under way as a matter of priority.
  13. We agreed that the equitable sharing of responsibilities and the effective use of defence resources remain key objectives. In this context, we discussed the progress which has been made in a fundamental review of the NATO Infrastructure Programme. Recognising the importance of North American reinforcements in Alliance strategy, we agreed that operations and maintenance costs of prepositioning to support such external reinforcements are in principle eligible for common funding. Individual projects will be considered on their merits alongside other eligible projects in the normal manner for funding within available NATO budget resources. We noted that work is proceeding to ensure that armaments cooperation activities reflect the guidelines set out in the Strategic Concept. In order to improve further the value obtained from constrained resources, we are following through the initiative to improve the conditions of NATO defence trade.
  14. In light of the risks posed by the increasing proliferation of ballistic missiles, we discussed ballistic missile defences against this potential threat. We agreed to intensify Alliance consultation in this area.
  15. In our Nuclear Planning Group meeting we reviewed the implementation of the decisions taken at our meeting in Taormina, Sicily , and at the Rome Summit . The substantial reduction and restructuring of the Alliance sub-strategic nuclear forces are progressing well. We also discussed progress in furthering the initiative to reduce strategic nuclear forces announced by President Bush in January 1992, to which President Yeltsin's response has been largely favourable.
  16. We welcome recent announcements that all tactical nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union have been consolidated on Russian territory in accordance with the Alma Ata and Minsk accords. We look forward to the earliest possible ratification and implementation of the landmark Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. In parallel we also look forward to the early accession of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as Non-Nuclear Weapon States. We reaffirm the need for all countries to contribute in all possible ways to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
  17. The safety, security and reliable control under a single unified authority of the nuclear weapons of the former Soviet Union and the storage and elimination of warheads in accordance with reciprocal commitments made by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev last year, and reaffirmed by President Yeltsin, are a matter of key concern to all of us. In this regard we have offered help and a number of Allies are already actively engaged in providing such assistance.
  18. Allied security has improved significantly in recent years but uncertainties and instabilities remain in Europe andin its periphery. Our collective defence planning arrangements, together with the transatlantic link, political solidarity and strategic unity, which are the unique features of the Alliance, are fundamental to maintaining future stability and security. Our aim for the future is to maintain these principles as we implement and sustain our new force and command structures. The success of these efforts is an integral part of the Alliance's wider objectives of promoting stability and increased cooperation throughout Europe.