Updated: 24-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


9-10 December

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


East-West relations - Expansion of military power of Warsaw Pact on land, air and sea - Use of all means of response in case of attack - Implementation of Final Act of CSCE - Follow-up meeting in Belgrade - Progress and prospects of SALT - MBFR - Quadripartite agreement on Berlin - Mediterranean situation - Middle East - Greek-Turkish agreement on procedure for delimitation of continental shelf - Use of available resources - Interoperability of future equipment - Standardization co-operation in selected equipment - Progress achieved by the CCMS.

    The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 9th and 10th December. Ministers recognized the indispensable role of a strong Alliance in ensuring the security of member countries, and in providing the foundation for their efforts to establish a more constructive and stable relationship with the Warsaw Pact countries. They expressed their determination to maintain and enhance the cohesion and strength of the Alliance.

  1. Ministers stressed the need for East-West relations to develop at a more satisfactory pace. They recognized nonetheless that progressive improvement of these relations may be slow and sometimes difficult and that it calls for perseverance and steadiness over the years. They emphasized that their governments would continue to seek realistic opportunities to resolve points of difference with the East and to build on mutual interest, and look for corresponding efforts by the Warsaw Pact countries.

    Ministers stressed, however, that if détente is to progress, with the necessary public support, and not to falter, there must be real improvements across the entire range of international relations. It should not be assumed that heightened tensions in one area of relations would not have repercussions on other areas. In all parts of the world, confrontation can and should be avoided by respect for the accepted principles of international behaviour.

    Ministers also emphasized the cardinal importance they attached to reducing the risks of confrontation in the military sphere. They viewed with concern the high level of military expenditure in the Soviet Union and the continued disquieting expansion of the military power of the Warsaw Pact on land, air and sea, which are difficult to reconcile with the avowed desire of the Soviet Union to improve East-West relations. Faced with this persistent growth in military might, Ministers reiterated their determination to take the measures necessary to maintain and improve their own defensive military forces, in order to ensure credible deterrence and to safeguard their countries from any risk of military aggression or political pressure.

  2. At the same time. Ministers expressed their concern that the continued expansion of armaments would increasingly endanger not only world security but also the economic well-being of all nations. They stressed that these dangers could only be averted if all countries concerned joined in realistic efforts to achieve genuine and controlled measures of disarmament and arms control.

    Ministers confirmed that the countries of the Alliance, in the event of an attack on them, cannot renounce the use, as may be required for defence, of any of the means available to them. Ministers also stated their view that all states which participated in the CSCE should respect strictly the renunciation of the threat or use of force as laid down in the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirmed in the Final Act of Helsinki. This renunciation must apply to all types of weapons. It is essential for the strengthening of peace that there should be no build-up of armaments of any type beyond the needs of defence, a policy which has always been followed by the Alliance. Ministers also stated their position that the Alliance will remain a free association open to all European states devoted to the defence of the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples. Furthermore, Ministers recalled that the right of states to belong or not to belong to treaties of alliance was confirmed in the Final Act of Helsinki. It is in light of these considerations that they have concluded that the recently published Warsaw Pact proposals could not be accepted.

  3. Ministers stated again the determination of their governments to continue to comply with all the principles and provisions of the Final Act of the CSCE and expected that all other signatories would take steps to fully implement them. They noted that some progress had been made in implementation. However, much remains to be done before the benefits of the Final Act become significantly apparent in tangible improvements, not only in relations between states, but also in the lives of peoples and individuals. Ministers recalled that the Final Act acknowledges that wider human contacts and dissemination of information would contribute to the strengthening of peace and expressed the hope that the Warsaw Pact countries would take measures leading to significant progress in the pace of implementation of the Final Act in the months to come.

    Ministers also noted that Allied governments had fully and scrupulously implemented the provisions of the Final Act dealing with confidence-building measures. They noted that the practice of notifying major manoeuvres was beginning to be established; however, unlike Allied countries, Warsaw Pact countries had still not notified manoeuvres involving less than 25,000 men. They regretted that the Warsaw Pact countries had failed up to now to accept invitations to send observers to Western manoeuvres.

    Ministers looked forward with interest to the follow-up meeting to be held in Belgrade during 1977. The meeting provides an opportunity for a thorough and objective review of the situation prevailing in all the signatory countries as regards all the areas covered by the Final Act, and also for considering the further progress that could be made towards the objectives agreed in Helsinki. Allied governments intend to play their full part in seeking positive results, with the aim of furthering the cause of peace and co-operation in Europe.

  4. Ministers heard a report from the United States Secretary of State on the progress and prospects of the United States-USSR Strategic Arms Limitation Talks and discussed the relationship between the SALT negotiations and Allied security interests. Ministers found the report on SALT both useful and informative and welcomed continued United States efforts toward achievement of a satisfactory SALT agreement which takes into account Allied interests and concerns.

  5. Ministers of the participating countries reviewed the state of negotiations in Vienna on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions (MBFR). They expressed their conviction that these negotiations would achieve their agreed aim of contributing to a more stable relationship and to the strengthening of peace and security in Europe only if they were to result in eliminating the existing ground force manpower disparity in Central Europe and in mitigating the disparity in main battle tanks.

    These Ministers reaffirmed their position that these objectives would be achieved by their 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 main battle tanks. These Ministers stressed that agreement to the goal of a common collective ceiling and reductions of United States and Soviet ground forces in the first phase would be an important and practical first step leading to the common collective ceiling which would be reached through additional reductions in the second phase.

    These Ministers noted with regret that the important specific additional offer they made one year ago had thus far not met with an adequate response. They reaffirmed their conviction that the Western proposals provided a reasonable foundation for a just and equitable MBFR agreement. They re-emphasized their continuing resolve to press for the achievement of the objectives of the Western participants which would ensure undiminished security for all countries concerned. They expressed satisfaction with their governments' continuing solidarity, based on the firm support of their public opinion, and reaffirmed the principle that NATO forces should not be reduced except in the context of mutual and balanced force reduction agreements.

  6. In connection with Germany and Berlin, Ministers reviewed the developments which had occurred since their last meeting in 1 May 1976.

    Ministers expressed themselves satisfied with the progress which had been possible in matters relating to Berlin on the basis of the Quadripartite Agreement during the five years since its signature. In particular, the Agreement had significantly alleviated the lives of many Germans.

    Ministers confirmed the continued commitment of their countries to the security and viability of Berlin. These remain essential elements of Western policy, and of detente between East and West. They noted the need for Berlin fully to benefit from any improvement in East-West relations, in particular through its ties to the Federal Republic of Germany as they are confirmed in the Quadripartite Agreement.

    Ministers emphasized that the Quadripartite Agreement was part of a greater balance of interests which had, to a very great degree, made possible and contributed to the development of better relations between East and West in Europe. They noted that this process would be placed in serious jeopardy if any of the signatories failed fully to observe the commitments which it undertook in the Quadripartite Agreement.

  7. Ministers reviewed developments in the Mediterranean area since their last meeting. They welcomed the end of hostilities in the Lebanon and expressed the hope that there would be continued progress towards stability and reconstruction in that country. They considered, nonetheless, that the continuing instability in the Middle East still gave cause for serious concern and could have dangerous consequences. They underlined the urgency of continuing efforts designed to achieve an overall settlement resulting in a just and durable peace in the Middle East.

    Ministers took note of the Report on the Situation in the Mediterranean prepared on their instructions. They emphasized the need to preserve the balance of forces throughout the Mediterranean area. They requested the Council in Permanent Session to continue its consultations on this question and report to them again at their next meeting.

    In this context, Ministers reaffirmed their view that the coming into operation of defence co-operation agreements between Allied countries will strengthen the Allied defences in the Mediterranean.

    The Ministers voiced their satisfaction on the agreement between Greece and Turkey on the procedure to be followed for the delimitation of the continental shelf and expressed their hope for the successful solution of this issue and the Aegean air space matters.

  8. In the context of improving the military capability of the Alliance and making more effective use of available resources Ministers discussed various aspects of standardization and interoperability of equipment and procedures. They approved the second report by the Ad Hoc Committee on Equipment Interoperability and agreed to take a number of actions, particularly in respect to tactical area communications, rearming of tactical aircraft and the implementation of NATO standardization agreements. They authorized the Committee to continue its efforts for the time being both in specific areas and in the elaboration of procedures for ensuring the interoperability of future equipment. They also noted the progress in standardization achieved by the Conference of National Armaments Directors in promoting co-operation among member nations in selected equipment areas.

  9. Ministers took note of the progress achieved by the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS), and its contribution to effective international co-operation in dealing with environmental problems confronting our societies. They took note of the completion of the pilot studies on advanced health care and urban transportation, and of the Committee's continuing emphasis on implementation by member countries of action resolutions. Ministers noted and endorsed the initiation of two new pilot studies, one to assist in world-wide efforts to clean the marine environment and the other to permit environmentally acceptable utilisation of high-sulphur coal and oil. Ministers noted too that the Committee's discussions focused attention on global issues such as the effect of fluorocarbons on the stratosphere and long-range transport of air pollutants.

  10. Ministers recognized that the basic problems in East-West relations were unlikely to be resolved quickly and that the Alliance must respond with a long-term effort commensurate to the challenges confronting it. The Allies could rely not only on their material resources, but also on the creative power demonstrated in all fields by their free and democratic societies. Ministers were confident that, with the mutual support and solidarity provided by the Alliance, their governments and peoples would be able to overcome the problems which faced them.

  11. The next Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council will be held in London on l0th and 11th May, 1977.

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