Updated: 25-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


The Hague
May, 1979

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


30th Anniversary of the Alliance - Economic cooperation - East- West relations - Detente - Salt II agreement - CSCE - Berlin and Germany - MBFR - 1978 French proposal for conventional arms limitations and reductions - Growing Soviet theatre nuclear capabilities - Equipment cooperation - Civil emergency planning and rapid reinforcement of Allied forces in Europe - The Middle East - Greek-Turkish dialogue - The Mediterranean - NATO Science Programme - High Level Group on TNF modernization - Special Group on arms control.


    The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in the Hague on 30th and 31st May, 1979.

  1. Commemorating the 30th Anniversary of the Alliance, Ministers expressed their deep satisfaction at the decisive contribution the Alliance had made to the maintenance of peace in Europe, and thereby to the security and economic and social advancement of their countries. They renewed their faith in the purposes and principles of the Alliance, and pledged the continuing dedication of their countries to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law

  2. In the light of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty, Ministers considered a report by the Secretary General on economic co-operation and assistance within the Alliance. Ministers recognized the continued urgency of making economic assistance available to members of the Alliance experiencing severe difficulties and the necessity of finding practical solutions to this problem. They reaffirmed their continued political support for efforts to this end. The Ministers also noted with satisfaction the action recently taken in another international forum.

  3. Ministers expressed their confidence that as the Alliance enters into its fourth decade, it will continue to ensure the security of its members by pursuing the complementary aims of deterrence and detente thus contributing to peace and stability. Recalling the study undertaken in 1978 as the background for Alliance consultation on East-West issues, they reviewed recent developments in East-West relations, They noted with attention certain signs in recent statements which might indicate a desire on the part of the Warsaw Pact countries to make efforts towards a better situation. At the same time they noted the persistence of disturbing factors, above all the ceaseless growth of the military power of these countries and its projection abroad. In the face of these facts, Ministers underlined the importance of continued steadfastness and solidarity among the members of the Alliance coupled with a sustained defence effort. While recalling that detente is an indivisible process, they remained committed to seeking concrete progress in efforts to strengthen confidence in international relations and expressed their determination to continue to strive towards this end, especially in the dialogues and negotiations under way.

  4. Ministers welcomed the agreement reached between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Strategic Arms Limitation-Talks. They agreed that a balanced limitation of the nuclear weapons capabilities of the Soviet Union and the United States will make an important contribution to East-West relations and security. Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the past record of close and full exchanges within the Alliance on issues arising from these talks and confirmed the importance of continuing these exchanges. They looked forward to the opportunity to study in depth the official SALT II text once the treaty is signed.

  5. Ministers again stressed the importance they attach to the continuation and deepening of the CSCE process as a central element of detente. In reviewing the implementation of the CSCE Final Act Ministers re-emphasised that progress in implementation is essential for the continuation of the CSCE process. Such progress could provide a basis for participation at the political level at the Madrid Meeting and contribute to a successful outcome. They expressed their concern that, although there had been progress in some sectors, the situation in others, notably that of human rights and fundamental freedoms, remained largely unchanged and had, in some instances in the field of information, deteriorated. In the latter context they noted with special concern the restrictions recently imposed by some states participating in the CSCE on the working conditions for journalists. They observed that the three meetings of experts envisaged by the Belgrade Meeting had taken place in a satisfactory atmosphere. Welcoming the fact that the need for careful preparation of the Madrid Meeting is widely recognised, they reiterated their intention to consult closely, both among the Allies and with all other participating states, to this end and in order to stimulate continued development of confidence-building measures, which Western countries had already suggested at the Belgrade Meeting on the basis of the recommendations contained in the CSCE Final Act; they expressed the hope that it would be possible to achieve concrete progress in Madrid. They stressed the importance of maintaining a balance among all sections of the Final Act and their determination to continue efforts to achieve full implementation of all its principles and provisions.

  6. Ministers reviewed developments concerning Berlin and Germany as a whole. They agreed that the continuation since their last meeting of a calm situation in Berlin and on the access routes is a positive element of the general climate in Europe. They emphasised the importance which the maintenance of an undisturbed Berlin situation continues to have for detente and stability in Europe.

  7. Ministers of countries participating in the negotiations on MBFR expressed their disappointment at the absence of significant progress in spite of the efforts made by the Western negotiators. They re-emphasised their determination to work for a successful outcome which would enhance stability, peace and security in Europe. They reaffirmed their proposal to create approximate parity in ground forces of the two sides in the area of reductions through the establishment of a common collective ceiling for ground force manpower on each side and the reduction of the disparity in main battle tanks; a first phase reductions agreement concerning United States and Soviet ground forces on the basis proposed by the participating Allies would be an important and practical step towards this goal. Ministers noted that the relevance of their proposal for the achievement of a more stable relationship in Europe is no longer disputed in principle in the negotiations. However, important differences of substance remain unresolved. The central open questions are the clarification of the data base - prerequisite to genuine parity - and the implementation of the principle of collectivity. These Ministers recalled that, since their last meeting, the Western side has made important moves on these two central issues. They called on the Eastern side to take full account of the Western moves and to respond positively in order to restore the momentum in the talks. These Ministers underlined the importance which they attach to associated measures which would promote military stability and confidence and ensure verification of an MBFR agreement. In this connection they also stressed the significance of undiminished security for the flank countries.

  8. In the face of the continuing build-up of nuclear and conventional weapons, Ministers reaffirmed their determination to explore all avenues in the pursuit of realistic and verifiable disarmament and arms control measures which will enhance stability, reduce force levels and promote security. Ministers expressed their hope that the continuing process initiated by the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament would stimulate speedier progress in international disarmament negotiations. In particular they welcomed the start made by the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva and the United Nations Disarmament Commission in New York. Active consultations on arms control and disarmament issues are taking place within the permanent machinery of the Alliance. As another element in the search for ways to develop the disarmament process, Ministers had a further useful exchange of views on the proposal made by France in May 1978 to all the European countries, as well as to the United States and Canada, designed not only to build confidence but also to limit and reduce conventional weapons throughout Europe. They decided to continue examining this proposal and its prospects for confidence-building and security in this continent.

  9. Ministers again voiced their concern at the continued growth in Warsaw Pact military power beyond levels justified for defensive purposes. They expressed particular concern about the growing Soviet theatre nuclear capabilities. While expressing their determination to pursue all aspects of detente, Ministers, recalling the decisions taken at the London and Washington meetings, underlined the need to continue to devote the resources necessary to modernize and strengthen Allied capabilities to the extent required for deterrence and defence.

  10. Ministers welcomed the developments reported by the Conference of National Armaments Directors in the field of equipment co-operation designed to bring about a more effective use of available resources. They noted that good progress was being made both in establishing new joint programmes for individual items and in working out armaments planning procedures. They noted with satisfaction that the transatlantic dialogue was evolving in a practical way toward the establishment of more balanced relations among the European and North American members of the Alliance in the field of development and production of new defence equipment and the augmenting of its quantity and quality, bearing in mind the importance of standardization and interoperability. In this connection, the special concerns of the less industrialized countries of the Alliance would continue to be borne in mind.

  11. Ministers examined two reports relating to civil emergency matters. They took note of the action so far taken by the member countries concerned to provide civil support for the rapid reinforcement of Allied forces in Europe and underlined the importance of civil emergency planning. Ministers agreed on the need for greater governmental support for civil emergency planning, with a view to redressing present shortcomings and achieving significant improvements in the level of civil preparedness as rapidly as possible.

  12. With regard to the Middle East, the Ministers paid tribute to the efforts undertaken by President Carter, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin. They underlined the fact that a lasting peace in the Middle East requires the participation of all the parties concerned, including representatives of the Palestinian people, in the elaboration and implementation of a comprehensive settlement of the conflict based on Resolutions 242 and 338 and respect for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

  13. Ministers noted the continuation of the dialogue between Greece and Turkey and expressed the hope that this initiative will be pursued through joint efforts so that positive and concrete results could be attained in the near future.

  14. Ministers took note of the semi-annual report on the situation in the Mediterranean. They reaffirmed their conviction that the balance off forces in the whole Mediterranean region is an essential requirement for peace in the area.

  15. Ministers recognized the significant contribution of the NATO Science Programme in encouraging scientific and technological collaboration within the Alliance and expressed their full support for it. They welcomed in particular the intensified consideration being given by the Science Committee to the possibilities of reducing scientific and technological disparities between member countries through co-operative activities.


The Ministers of the countries participating in the High Level Group on theatre nuclear force modernization and the Special Group on arms control discussed the activities of these groups. Against the background of the growth in Soviet theatre nuclear forces referred to above, they noted that the continuing necessity to maintain and modernize theatre nuclear forces in support of the strategy of forward defence and flexible response, envisaging no increase in overall reliance on nuclear systems, had recently been reaffirmed. At the same time, in line with the fundamental dual objectives of detente and deterrence, they emphasized the need for a response to this challenge which combines the complementary approaches of force improvements and arms control. In preparation for decisions to be made these Ministers welcomed the fact that the Special Group was working effectively in parallel with the High Level Group and took note of the report on the progress of its work.

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