"A common Europe-Partners in Stability"

Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner to Members of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR

  • 16 Jul. 1990
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  • Last updated: 04 Nov. 2008 22:00

It is not only a great honour for me to be here in Moscow but also a rare pleasure - one indeed that I hope will not be rare at all in the future. It is my second visit to your great country, to this land that has done so much to shape our European, and also universal culture. One thinks, on the literary side, of Pushkin, Tolstoy and my favourite author Dostoevsky; on the musical side of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Shostakovich; and on the scientific side of Lomonosov and Sakharov; to name those that, for me, are the most obvious.

Your country endured immense suffering in the Second World War, a sacrifice which has earned the Soviet people our respect and sympathy.

When I first visited your country in 1960, I was 25 years old, a student. It was still the time of the Cold War. Europe was divided. NATO and the Warsaw Pact confronted each other. Far too many of our resources went into armaments, and to what purpose? Where did it lead us except into even more sterile confrontation? It was to nobody's benefit. In short, a waste of energy, imagination and sacrifice; money that could have been better spent building those democratic, industrially advanced and prosperous societies that we know are inherently peaceful, and thus our best guarantee of lasting stability and security.

Now 30 years later I come again. This time as Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This visit in itself symbolizes the dramatic changes of the past year. The Cold War now belongs to the past. A new Europe is emerging, a Europe drawn together by the unfettered aspiration for freedom, democracy and prosperity. Certainly age-old fears and suspicions cannot be banished overnight; but they can be overcome. Never before has Europe had such a tangible opportunity to overcome the cycle of war and peace that has so bedevilled its history.

We in the Alliance intend to seize this opportunity. We wanted and welcome this. And our Alliance has done its share in helping to bring it about. Yet the Soviet leadership also deserves much of the credit for the promising new era that opens before us. President Mikhail Gorbachev initiated the new thinking in your country. It was he who realized the imperative need not only to change fundamentally the structures of your society, but also the entire pattern of East-West relations.

I have come to Moscow today with a very simple message: we extend our hand of friendship to you. And I have come with a very direct offer: to cooperate with you. The time of confrontation is over. The hostility and mistrust of the past must be buried. We see your country, and all the other countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, no longer as adversaries but as partners in a common endeavour to build what you call a Common European Home, erected on the values of democracy, human freedoms, and partnership.

There is a way that leads us beyond confrontation and towards a Europe whole and free: through the building of new structures, a new architecture that includes all of us;through arms control negotiations to reduce weapons to the minimum, and to increase stability and reassurance;through cooperation between us in all fields, political, economic, scientific, cultural.

We have to draw the consequences from the changes we see. Our Alliance has done so and will continue to do so. At the London Summit 10 days ago, we decided to change our Alliance in the most far-reaching way since its inception forty one years ago. We have no interest in a confrontational system. NATO's future is as a supporting pillar of a new and peaceful order of cooperation in Europe in which military power plays a lesser role in interna-tional relations; less dominant, threatening noone and dedicated to the role of reassurance against risks and the prevention of war.

How has NATO changed, you may well ask. Which concrete steps have we taken? We are reducing our defence budgets and scaling back our forces;We are reviewing our force structures, and changing our military strategy;we are reducing the readiness of our active units, reducing training requirements and the number of exercises;we are relying less on nuclear forces in Europe; we have proposed to the Soviet Union the elimination from Europe of all nuclear artillery war-heads;we have offered to negotiate on short range nuclear forces in Europe once a CFE treaty is signed;and also, following agreement on CFE, we have offered immediately to proceed to follow-on negotiations to build on that agreement, including measures to limit manpower in Europe.

These changes will be carried out as Soviet Forces return home and the conventional arms control agreement is implemented. Moreover this Alliance wishes not only to eliminate tension by reducing weapons, but also by increasing confidence and transparency. So we are pushing hard for an Open Skies agreement; we are proposing discussions on military strategy and doctrine. Above all we want to consult and to discuss our security with you.

Our security must increasingly become cooperative in an age when no nation can provide for its security alone or in isolation from its neighbours. NATO will maintain a secure defence, as will the Soviet Union. We live in an uncertain world with many risks and instabilities, and will continue to do so. And that security will require us to maintain a mix of nuclear and conventional forces in Europe, as the Soviet Union will also do. Yet our goal is clear: to reduce military forces in Europe to a minimum. We wish to explore with you a common concept of war prevention at minimum levels. Our aim is a military posture that gives maximum reassurance. Our own history in the Alliance shows that this is possible.

Our aim is a Europe in which military aggression or threat becomes materially impossible and politically meaningless. At our NATO Summit we moved boldly ahead to put the structures of such a secure Europe in place.

Firstly in enhancing our dialogue with you and the other members of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. We have invited President Gorbachev to come to Brussels to address the North Atlantic Council. We have proposed the establishment of diplomatic contacts with NATO. We have proposed a joint declaration on non-aggression, to be concluded between the member states of NATO and the Warsaw Treaty Organization.

Secondly in pursuing the arms control process with vigour and determination. A conventional arms control agreement is the key that will unlock the syndrome of confrontation between us. It is the indispensable first step in building a Europe whole and free; so I call on the Soviet Union to help us conclude this treaty now. This agreement will lay the basis of cooperation and mutual reassurance that will enable us to create an enduring peace in Europe. It makes possible all that we foresee can be accomplished in this decade.

The conventional arms control process, coupled with talks on short range nuclear forces and an agreement on additional Confidence Building Measures, will give all of us in Europe, including the Soviet Union, guarantees that change in Europe will not be prejudicial to legitimate security interests. Soviet security will be enhanced as much as Allied security.

Thirdly, the NATO Summit in London set forth our ideas for building on the CSCE to bring all of Europe closer together in new or expanded structures of cooperation. To be effective, CSCE must serve first and foremost to protect democracy and freedom throughout Europe, and tackle the problems involved in the transition to efficient market economies. Thus NATO has proposed a range of initiatives to strengthen the existing Helsinki principles and establish new foms of cooperation: initiatives such as the right to free and fair elections, commitments to uphold the rule of law, guidelines for economic and envi-ronmental cooperation.

To enable the CSCE to perform these tasks, and to amplify and give more structure to wider political dialogue, NATO has proposed new institutional forms for the CSCE, most notably a programme for regular high-level consultations among member governments; CSCE review conferences once every two years; a small CSCE secretariat; a CSCE centre for the Prevention of Conflict; and a Parliamentary Assembly of Europe. Our aim is to have a CSCE that allows all the nations of Central and Eastern Europe to play a full role in building with us the future European order.

One thing is clear: we intend to steer change in Europe so that there are no losers, only winners. This applies also to the case of German unity. Germany's membership in the Alliance will increase stability for all. It is as much in the interests of the Germans as their neighbours in East and West, including the Soviet Union. Many in your country ask if NATO is not gaining a unilateral advantage from this outcome. We take such questions seriously. That is why we are not only striving to understand your security interests, but also to respect them and to offer you tangible guarantees that German unification will not shift the balance of power in Europe. Rather, it is really the gateway to overcoming division, and to partnership.

In short, NATO sees its future role as putting in place new structures of cooperation across Europe that will make it impossible for a situation like the Cold War ever to return. We want to work together with you in helping to manage the two crucial tasks in Europe today : to promote constructive change;to provide stability so that change can take place in optimal conditions, with diminished risk of setbacks and reversals.

Nevertheless, some in your country may still ask us : what have we to gain from this historical upheaval that is reshaping the world? The answer is the Soviet Union gains partners that will help in its great domestic task of reform and renewal. Partners who will cooperate to ensure that the Soviet Union is an active and constructive part of the dynamic Europe of advanced industrial economies and technological inter-dependence of the 21st century. True security, like prosperity, comes from the stability, prosperity and growth that only freedom, inter-dependence and partnership can bring. Beyond confronta-tion, we can address the immense global challenges of today and tomorrow : environmental degradation, drugs, terrorism, hunger, population, the prolif-eration of immensely destructive military technologies in the Third World. Together we can achieve a great deal.

Our generation is lucky. We have a historically unique opportunity which may not repeat itself. An opportunity to create a new world, a world of co-operation, where none of us feel threatened. We cannot afford to miss the chance. The Alliance I have the honour to represent wants partners in the building of a new Europe and a more just and equal world order. Your country has much to offer. Indeed it is vital to this whole process of historical change. Let us look to a common future, and work for it with trust and imagination. And let our children be even luckier than we are.