Updated: 24-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


20-21 May

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Reaffirmation to central purposes of the Alliance - Concern at sustained growth in Warsaw Pact military power - Examination of progress towards implementating the Final Act of the CSCE-SALT agreement - State of MBFR negotiations - Berlin and Germany as a whole - Situation in the Mediterranean - Fisheries dispute UK/Iceland - Standardization and equipment interoperability.

    The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Oslo on 20th and 2lst May, 1976. Ministers reaffirmed their adherence to the central purposes of the Alliance and their determination to maintain and where necessary, enhance the co-operation and solidarity of the Allies, as well as their deterrent and defensive strength. Only if the security of the peoples of the Alliance is guaranteed in this way, can East-West relations continue to improve.

  1. After reviewing recent trends in East-West relations, Ministers agreed that, while there were certain encouraging aspects, others gave cause for concern. They remained convinced that Allied Governments, intent on building a more constructive and stable relationship with the East, must continue to strive for a relaxation of tensions and to try to devise further practical measures of co-operation in areas of common interest, while preserving the cohesion and strength of the Alliance. They stated that such a policy, entailing a dialogue attuned to current realities, has the full support of the member countries.

    However, the pursuit of a genuine and durable detente is possible only if all states concerned exercise restraint both in their relations with each other and in their actions in other parts of the world. The necessary confidence could not be established between East and West if crises and tensions were to be avoided in Europe only to appear elsewhere. In this regard, Ministers underlined that all signatories of the CSCE Final Act have recognised the close link between peace and security in Europe and in the world as a whole.

    Accordingly, Ministers felt that they must once again voice their concern at the sustained growth in the Warsaw Pact countries' military power, on land, at sea and in the air beyond levels apparently justified for defensive purposes. Should this trend continue it could lead to an arms race of dangerous dimensions. Ministers again stressed the determination of their governments to take the measures necessary to maintain and improve the efficiency of their forces, as an essential safeguard for the security of member countries whether against military aggression or political pressure.

  2. Ministers examined the progress made in implementing the provisions of the Final Act of the CSCE. They emphasised the importance they attach to full implementation of all parts of the Helsinki Final Act by all signatories, so that its benefits may be felt not only in relations between states but also in the lives of individuals. Ministers recognised that some steps have been taken affecting human contacts and working conditions of journalists. However, in view of the importance of what still remains to be done, they expressed the hope that progress in this field would gather momentum during the coming months and that progress would also be recorded in co-operation in economic relations and in other spheres, as well as in the observance of the principles guiding relations between participating states.

    In the field of confidence-building measures, they noted that a number of military manoeuvres in Europe had been notified and observers had been invited to some of them. They stated their intention to continue fully to comply with the relevant provisions of the Final Act and expressed the expectation that all signatories would do the same.

    Ministers expressed the view that the meeting to be held in Belgrade in 1977 would provide an opportunity not only to exchange views on the implementation of the Final Act of the CSCE, but also to consider the further progress that could be made towards the objectives agreed in Helsinki.

  3. Ministers heard a report from the United States Secretary of State on the continuing United States efforts towards the further limitation of strategic offensive arms and towards embodiment of the Vladivostok understanding in a SALT Agreement. The Ministers discussed how the negotiations affect common security interests. They expressed the hope that further efforts would lead to the resolution nf outstanding issues and to the conclusion of a satisfactory SALT Agreement. The Ministers also underlined the value of continuing consultations within the Alliance with respect to SALT.

  4. The Ministers of those countries which participate in the Vienna negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR) reviewed the state of these negotiations. They again stressed that MBFR must result in eliminating the ground force manpower disparity in Central Europe and in mitigating the disparity in main battle tanks if the agreed aim of contributing to a more stable relationship and to the strengthening of peace and security in Europe is to be achieved. They reiterated, therefore. the importance which they attach to the Western proposal to establish, in the area of reductions, approximate parity in ground forces in the form of a common collective ceiling for ground force manpower on each side and to reduce the disparity in tanks. As proposed by the participating Allies, agreement to the goal of a common collective ceiling and reductions of American and Soviet ground forces in the first phase would be an important and practical first step leading to a common collective ceiling in the second phase.

    The Ministers expressed their continuing resolve to press for achievement of the objectives of the Western participants. They recalled their important specific additional offer of December 1975 which was made conditional upon agreement to the objectives as set out in the Western proposals. They expressed the hope that these would be given the most serious consideration.

    These Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that their proposals provide a reasonable foundation for a just and equitable agreement which would in its turn constitute an indispensable contribution to a further relaxation of tensions. These Ministers are convinced that the realisation of the aims pursued by the West in the negotiations would lead to a more stable military situation which would ensure undiminished security for all countries concerned and would thus be to the advantage of both sides.

    The Ministers noted with satisfaction that solidarity is fully maintained and that public opinion in their countries supports the Western position as logical and fair. They reaffirmed the principle that NATO forces should not be reduced except in the context of Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Agreements.

  5. The Ministers reviewed the developments relating to Berlin and Germany as a whole which have occurred since their last meeting in December 1975.

    They took note of the agreements concluded on l9th December, 1975 by the two German States, agreements which will bring, in the interest of the German people, further improvements to the traffic to and from Berlin.

    As regards Berlin, the Ministers discussed the further experience gained in the implementation of the Quadripartite Agreement of 3rd September, 1971, and especially, of those provisions of the Agreement which concern the Western sectors of Berlin. They noted, in particular, that the provisions of this Agreement which concern the traffic to and from Berlin were being implemented in a satisfactory way.

    Noting that Berlin's participation in international activities is an important element of the viability of the city, Ministers viewed with concern attempts of certain countries to impose limitations on the right of the Federal Republic of Germany, as confirmed in the Quadripartite Agreement, to represent the interests of the Western sectors of Berlin abroad. They expressed the hope that, in the interest of the Berliners and of progress in co-operation in Europe, all provisions of the Quadripartite Agreement and, especially, the provisions which relate to the representation abroad of the interests of the Western sectors of Berlin by the Federal Republic of Germany will be fully implemented and strictly observed.

  6. Ministers took note of the report on the situation in the Mediterranean prepared on their instructions. They emphasised the importance they attach to maintaining the Balance of Forces throughout the Mediterranean area. They requested the Council to continue its consultations on this subject and to report to them at their next meeting.

    Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress made regarding new defence co-operation agreements that will open the way to enhancing Allied defences in the South- Eastern region.

    They expressed concern at the serious situation arising from the continuing instability in the Middle East and reaffirmed that rapid progress must be made towards a just and lasting settlement of the conflict.

  7. The Fisheries Dispute between Iceland and the United Kingdom was again raised and discussed.

  8. As part of their continuing efforts to improve the military capability of the Alliance and to make more effective use of available resources, Ministers addressed the general subject of standardization and discussed an interim report on equipment interoperability. This report, which had been prepared by an Ad Hoc Committee set up after the December Ministerial Meeting, concentrated on certain priority areas. The need for full implementation of existing standardization agreements was stressed. Ministers noted that there were encouraging prospects for improving operational flexibility of Allied forces. They asked for a full report in December 1976.

  9. The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment of their countries to the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, justice and social progress which inspire the Alliance and on which their political institutions and way of life are founded. They expressed the confidence that, on the basis of the security provided by the Alliance, their governments would overcome the problems confronting them now and in the future.

  10. The next Ministerial session of the North Atlantic Council will be held in Brussels on 9th and 10th December, 1976.

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