of the NATO Heads of State and Government participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council

  • 02 Mar. 1988 -
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  • Last updated: 26 Aug. 2010 12:18

A Time for Reaffirmation

  1. We, the representatives of the sixteen members of the North Atlantic Alliance, have come together to re-emphasise our unity, to assess the current state of East-West relations, to review the opportunities and challenges which lie ahead, and in so doing:
    • to reaffirm the common ideals and purposes which are the foundation of our partnership;
    • to rededicate ourselves to the principles and provisions of the Washington Treaty of 1949;
    • to reassert the vital importance of the Alliance for our security, and the validity of our strategy for peace.

The Purposes and Principles of our Alliance

  1. Our Alliance is a voluntary association of free and democratic equals, united by common interests and values. It is unprecedented in its scope and success. Our security is indivisible. Our Alliance is dedicated to preserving peace in freedom and to collective self-defence, as recognised by the United Nations Charter. None of our weapons will ever be used except in response to attack.
  2. Our concept of a balanced security policy as set out in the Harmel Report has successfully stood the test of time. It remains valid in its two complementary and mutually reinforcing approaches: political solidarity and adequate military strength, and, on that basis, the search for constructive dialogue and cooperation, including arms control. The ultimate political purpose of our Alliance is to achieve a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe.
  3. The security in freedom and the prosperity of the European and North American Allies are inextricably linked. The longstanding commitment of the North American democracies to the preservation of peace and security in Europe is vital. The presence in Europe of the conventional and nuclear forces of the United States provides the essential linkage with the United States strategic deterrent, and, together with the forces of Canada, is a tangible expression of that commitment. This presence must and will be maintained.
    Likewise, a free, independent and increasingly united Europe is vital to North America's security. The credibility of Allied defence cannot be maintained without a major European contribution. We therefore welcome recent efforts to reinforce the European pillar of the Alliance, intended to strengthen the transatlantic partnership and Alliance security as a whole.

The Atlantic Alliance cannot be strong if Europe is weak

  1. Our aim will continue to be to prevent any kind of war or intimidation. By maintaining credible deterrence the Alliance has secured peace in Europe for nearly forty years. Conventional defences alone cannot ensure this; therefore, for the foreseeable future there is no alternative to the Alliance strategy for the prevention of war. This is a strategy of deterrence based upon an appropriate mix of adequate and effective nuclear and conventional forces which will continue to be kept up to date where necessary.
  2. While seeking security and stability at lower levels of armaments, we are determined to sustain the requisite efforts to ensure the continued viability, credibility and effectiveness of our conventional and nuclear forces, including the nuclear forces in Europe, which together provide the guarantee of our common security. Taking into account the structure of the Alliance, each of us undertakes to play his part in this joint endeavour in a spirit of solidarity, reaffirming our willingness to share fairly the risks, burdens and responsibilities as well as the benefits of our common efforts.
  3. We seek a just and stable condition of peace in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states are respected and the rights of all individuals, including their right of political choice, are protected.

    We want gradually to overcome the unnatural division of the European continent, which affects most directly the German people. We will continue to uphold the freedom and viability of Berlin and to support efforts to improve the situation there.

    The search for improved and more stable relations with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe is among our principal concerns. We call upon these countries to work with us for a further relaxation of tensions, greater security at lower levels of arms, more extensive human contacts and increased access to information.

    We will continue the effort to expand cooperation with the East wherever and whenever this is of mutual benefit.

East-West Relations: The Way Ahead

  1. We have noted encouraging signs of change in the policies of the Soviet Union and some of its allies. This creates the prospect for greater openness in their relations with their own peoples and with other nations. We welcome such progress as has been already achieved in certain areas. But we look beyond pronouncements for tangible and lasting policy changes addressing directly the issues dividing East and West.
  2. However, we have to date witnessed no relaxation of the military effort pursued for years by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union persists in deploying far greater military forces than are required for its defence. This massive force, which the Soviet Union has not refrained from using outside its borders, as is still the case in Afghanistan, constitutes a fundamental source of tension between East and West. The steady growth of Soviet military capabilities, as it affects every region of the Alliance, requires our constant attention.
  3. We will continue to be steadfast in the pursuit of our security policies, maintaining the effective defences and credible deterrence that form the necessary basis for constructive dialogue with the East including on arms control and disarmament matters.

    To meet our security needs in the years to come will require ever greater efficiencies in the application of our scarce resources. We are therefore determined to expand our practical cooperation in the field of armaments procurement and elsewhere. In this context we recognise the challenges to our industrially less advanced Allies and the need to address them through mutual assistance and cooperation.
  4. Arms control is an integral part of our security policy. We seek negotiations not for their own sake but to reach agreements which can significantly reduce the risk of conflict and make a genuine contribution to stability and peace. We shall work together vigorously and on the basis of the closest consultation to this end.
  5. Our representatives to the North Atlantic Council continue actively the further development of a comprehensive concept of arms control and disarmament as directed in the Statement of our Ministers at Reykjavik in June 1987.
  6. The recently concluded INF agreement between the US and the Soviet Union is a milestone in our efforts to achieve a more secure peace and lower levels of arms. It is the impressive result of the political courage, the realism and the unity of the members of the Alliance. The treaty's provisions on stringent verification and asymmetrical reductions provide useful precedents for future agreements. We look forward to its early entry into force.
  7. Consistent with their security requirements, the fifteen Allies concerned will make use of all possibilities for effectively verifiable arms control agreements which lead to a stable and secure balance of forces at a lower level. For them, the comprehensive concept of arms control and disarmament includes:
    • a 50% reduction in the strategic offensive nuclear weapons of the US and the Soviet Union to be achieved during current Geneva negotiations;
    • the global elimination of chemical weapons;
    • the establishment of a stable and secure level of conventional forces, by the elimination of disparities, in the whole of Europe;
    • in conjunction with the establishment of a conventional balance and the global elimination of chemical weapons, tangible and verifiable reductions of American and Soviet land-based nuclear missile systems of shorter range, leading to equal ceilings.
  8. Recognising the urgency and central importance of addressing the conventional force imbalances in Europe, we have adopted a separate statement on conventional arms control.
  9. The resolution of East-West differences will require progress in many fields. Genuine peace in Europe cannot be established solely by arms control. It must be firmly based on full respect for fundamental human rights. As we continue our efforts to reduce armaments, we shall press for implementation on the part of the governments of the Soviet Union and of other Eastern countries of all of the principles and provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and of the Madrid Concluding Document. We support the continuation and strengthening of the CSCE process. It represents an important means of promoting stable and constructive relations on a long term basis between countries of East and West, and, moreover, enhances closer and more fruitful contacts between peoples and individuals throughout Europe. We call upon all participating states to make every effort for an early conclusion to the CSCE follow-up meeting in Vienna with a substantial and balanced final document.
  10. We agree that the speedy and complete withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the effective restoration of that country's sovereignty would be of major significance. It is against these criteria that we shall assess General Secretary Gorbachev's recent statements.
  11. We hope that at their forthcoming summit in Moscow President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev will be able to build upon the progress achieved at their Washington meeting last December. We strongly support the efforts of the United States. These fully accord with our consistent policy to seek, through high-level dialogue, early and substantial progress with the Soviet Union on a full range of issues, including greater respect for human rights, arms control, a lessening of regional tensions, and improved opportunities for bilateral contacts and cooperation.
  12. Reflecting upon almost four decades of common endeavour and sacrifice and upon the results achieved, we are confident that the principles and purposes of our Alliance remain valid today and for the future. We are united in our efforts to ensure a world of more secure peace and greater freedom. We will meet the opportunities and challenges ahead with imagination and hope, as well as with firmness and vigilance. We owe no less to our peoples.
  1. Greece recalls its position on nuclear matters.