Updated: 25-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


December, 1979

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Mr. J. Luns.


Spring 1980 Ministerial Meeting - East-West relations - Concern over actions of the Soviet Union and some of its allies in troubled areas - Warsaw Pact military build-up - Indivisibility of detente - Effective use of resources - Transatlantic Dialogue - Arms control and disarmament negotiations - SALT II - Madrid CSCE Follow-up Meeting - French CDE proposal - MBFR - Berlin and Germany - Situation in the Mediterranean - Greek-Turkish dialogue - Economic problems of certain member countries - The Middle East - Zimbabwe-Rhodesia - CCMS - 12th December Special Meeting - Efforts to improve East-West relations in the 1980s.


  1. The North Atlantic Council met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 13th and 14th December 1979.

    Ministers accepted with pleasure the invitation of the Turkish Government to hold the next Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council in Ankara in the Spring of 1980.

  2. Ministers renewed their faith in the North Atlantic Treaty which guarantees the freedom, security and well-being of their peoples and the preservation of peace and international stability. Because their Governments are based on the consent of their peoples, on democratic institutions, and on the principle of equality and the rule of law, the members of the Alliance have the strength, enhanced by the will to assist each other, to face the challenges which lie ahead. Looking forward to the 1980s, Ministers expressed their confidence that, by maintaining the strength and cohesion of their Alliance and pursuing the complementary goals of arms control, disarmament, and the improvement of relations between East and West in general, their Governments would continue to make a major contribution to peace and stability in Europe and the world.

  3. Reviewing developments in East-West relations since they last met, Ministers noted that the conclusions of the study undertaken in 1978 remain valid. They recalled their commitment to detente and stressed the defensive nature of the Alliance. Events since their previous meeting showed the continuing influence of forces not conducive to the consolidation of international stability and security. They expressed concern over the direct or indirect actions of the Soviet Union and some of its allies in a number of troubled areas concurrently with a very considerable build-up, both qualitative and quantitative, in Warsaw Pact military strength, and particularly with growing Soviet theatre nuclear and conventional capabilities. Ministers noted that these developments were a cause for legitimate disquiet and were not compatible either with assurances by the Warsaw Pact countries that they do not seek military superiority or with their publicly-declared intention to promote detente, particularly in the military sphere. Ministers reiterated their view that detente must be worldwide and indivisible in character.

  4. Ministers confirmed that their Governments were resolved to take steps to reduce the growing imbalance of forces by improving their military capabilities and thus maintain an adequate level of deterrence and defence across the full spectrum. They recalled the determination of their Governments to achieve, as a key element in conventional force modernization, more effective use of available resources through co-operative equipment programmes and increased standardization and interoperability of weapons systems. They noted with satisfaction the initial progress that has been achieved in these respects. They repeated that through the Transatlantic Dialogue they would continue to work towards more balanced relations among the European and North American members of the Alliance in the field of armaments development and production in order to enhance the availability and quality of new defence equipment. They noted the contribution which is being made by the Conference of National Armaments Directors in this respect, and the need to bear in mind the interests of the less industrialized members of the Alliance.

  5. Ministers believed that efforts to achieve agreement in fields of arms control, disarmament and confidence-building should go hand in hand with the defence efforts of the Allies. They noted that recent proposals put forward by the Eastern countries echoed in part the Western proposals and they saw in them a hopeful indication of the evolution of these countries towards a more positive attitude in the search for common ground. Ministers considered ways of advancing appropriate discussions and negotiations.

  6. Ministers recalled that the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) signed by the United States and the Soviet Union on 18th June reflected their desire for genuine arms control measures which should contribute to the stability of East-West relations. Ministers observed that the Treaty makes it possible to maintain a strong US strategic nuclear deterrent, which remains vital to the defence of the Alliance. Thus this Treaty, which will have the effect of curbing the build-up of strategic nuclear weapons in the world, improves the prospects for detente without jeopardizing the security interests of the members of the Alliance. Ministers expressed the hope that the Treaty would soon come into force. They looked forward to the early continuation of the SALT process, on the basis of further close consultations within the Alliance, leading to additional United States and Soviet reductions and qualitative limitations in the nuclear field. They also expressed the belief that ratification of the Treaty would contribute to other possibilities of progress in the field of arms control.

  7. Ministers believed that the process initiated by the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe made a most valuable contribution to the strengthening of detente, and offered further opportunities to develop existing and new areas of dialogue in the search for agreement. They expressed the hope that the CSCE Follow-Up Meeting to be held at Madrid in 1980 will be a major step forward in that process. Tangible progress in the meantime in implementing the principles and provisions of the Final Act and adequate preparation are of great importance for the success of the Madrid Meeting and could provide a basis for participation at the political level. Although there have been certain welcome measures of relief, in particular the granting of amnesty, and some improvement in other fields, Ministers noted with concern that in certain countries the situation remained unsatisfactory or had even deteriorated as regards respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including cases where citizens continue to be subject to harassment and imprisonment for no reason other than their efforts to bring about the full implementation of the Final Act. Ministers also noted that progress in the field of human contacts was uneven and expressed their concern that the level of implementation of the provisions dealing with a freer flow of information and working conditions for journalists had remained low and, in some cases, had deteriorated. They noted with satisfaction, however, that the Final Act increasingly has become the standard by which the actions of signatory states are judged.

  8. Ministers expressed their intention to devote increasing efforts to preparations for the Madrid Meeting during the period ahead, emphasizing the importance of consultations among Allies as well as with the other participating states and of maintaining balance among all sections of the Final Act. They confirmed that they intended to approach and conduct the Madrid Meeting in a constructive frame of mind and in a manner which would permit a thorough, frank and measured review of the implementation of all provisions of the Final Act. In this spirit, they will be ready to put forward new proposals and to discuss proposals from other participants calculated to bring concrete and balanced progress in all fields covered by the Final Act and thereby contribute to the vitality of the CSCE process. Ministers recognized the importance for the Alliance of developing the confidence-building measures and the other provisions of the Final Act relating to certain aspects of security and disarmament, and hoped for concrete results in this regard at the Madrid Meeting. They reviewed with interest the proposals made in these fields by different CSCE participants, whether Western, neutral and non-aligned or Warsaw Pact countries, including those made by the latter in May and December 1979. They considered that the proposal for a Conference on Disarmament in Europe put forward by France is a useful concept providing a basis upon which to continue developing their approach in this field to bring about such a conference. They agreed to work towards the adoption during the Madrid Meeting, as part of a balanced outcome, of a mandate for further negotiations under the aegis of the CSCE on militarily significant and verifiable confidence-building measures, applicable to the entire continent of Europe. These, if agreed, would help create conditions conducive to limitation and reduction of arms in the same geographical area. This process should take account of both the varied aspects of the existing security situation and of the current negotiations on other aspects of arms control and disarmament concerning the European continent.

  9. The Ministers of countries participating in the negotiations on Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions re-emphasized their determination to work for a successful outcome which would enhance stability, peace and security in Europe. They noted, however, their concern that despite representations made at the highest level by Western leaders to the Eastern participants, the East has made no effort to resolve the data question. These Ministers noted that agreement on the starting size of forces to be reduced is not only an essential prerequisite to any reductions, but can also serve to build confidence that a reduction agreement is being observed and that mutual security is being enhanced.

    In order to advance the negotiations toward an early result, these Ministers approved a proposal for an interim Phase I agreement consistent with the objectives of their Governments in the negotiations, in particular the establishment of parity in the form of a common collective ceiling on ground force manpower and agreement on a combined common collective ceiling on air and ground force manpower of each side in the area of reductions. Their new initiative aims at simplifying existing proposals for a Phase I agreement by focusing on US and Soviet manpower withdrawals and limitations, based on agreed US-Soviet data, and on associated measures applied on a multilateral basis. This interim Phase I agreement would open the way for a subsequent Phase II agreement, based on agreed overall data, providing for further reductions by all direct participants to achieve a common collective ceiling on ground force manpower for each side at approximately 700,000 and for agreement on a combined common collective ceiling on air and ground force manpower for each side at approximately 900,000.

    These Ministers called attention to the package of associated measures which forms an integral part of their proposal for an interim Phase I agreement. This package of measures is designed to promote military stability and confidence, to ensure adequate verification of an MBFR agreement, and to help safeguard undiminished security for flank countries.

    These Ministers urged Eastern participants to give prompt and serious consideration to their initiative, which takes account of negotiating proposals of both sides and which is in accordance with the agreed aim of the negotiations to contribute to the creation of a more stable relationship and to the strengthening of peace and security in Europe. They view this new Western initiative as an integral part of the arms control initiatives agreed upon during this Ministerial Meeting.

  10. Turning to the question of negotiations on disarmament and arms limitation in other fora, Ministers reaffirmed the importance which they attached to the adoption of effective, balanced and verifiable measures. They welcomed as positive elements the discussions during the first session of the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva and the deliberations of the Disarmament Commission in New York. They attached importance to the frequent and active consultations on these questions within the permanent machinery of the Alliance.

  11. Ministers discussed developments with regard to Berlin and Germany as a whole. They noted that since their last meeting the climate in and around Berlin had continued to remain relatively calm. Ministers reaffirmed their conviction that an undisturbed situation in Berlin and on the access routes is an essential element of detente, security and co-operation in Europe, and noted the continuing relevance of the London declaration of 9th May 1977 and the Tokyo declaration of 29th June 1979. Ministers noted with satisfaction the improved climate in the relations between the two German States after a period of reserve and welcomed the conclusion of new agreements and the continuation of negotiations. Ministers consider this as a positive element in the process of detente in Europe, having at the same time beneficial effects for Berlin.

  12. Ministers noted the report on the situation in the Mediterranean prepared on their instructions and underlined again the necessity of maintaining the balance of forces in the whole area. They requested the Council in permanent session to continue to consult on the question and submit a further report at their next meeting.

  13. Ministers welcomed the continuation of the dialogue between Greece and Turkey in search of a peaceful solution to the differences between the two countries and they expressed the hope that in this manner positive results could be attained in the near future.

  14. Ministers considered a report by the Secretary General on the particular problems faced by economically less advanced member countries which constitutes a sound basis for action. While noting with satisfaction the special efforts that had been made over recent months, they stressed the need to give further momentum to the efforts to provide, in the spirit of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty, assistance to Those countries, so as to reach concrete and timely results. They reaffirmed their continued political support for this process which will, indeed, constitute an essential element for the fulfilment of the contributions by those countries to collective defence.

  15. With respect to the Middle East, the Ministers affirmed the importance of elaborating and implementing a just, lasting and comprehensive settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of resolutions 242 and 338 and with the participation of all the parties concerned, including representatives of the Palestinian people. Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress achieved by Egypt and Israel in the implementation of resolution 242 insofar as their mutual relations are concerned. They reaffirmed that a lasting peace requires the resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects and the achievement of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in the context of a negotiated settlement that ensures the security of all states in the region including Israel.

  16. Ministers warmly welcomed the agreement reached in the Constitutional Conference on Rhodesia. They expressed the hope that the cease-fire proposals agreed at that Conference would quickly become fully effective, and that peace would return to Rhodesia and the neighbouring countries. Ministers looked forward to the day when the independent Republic of Zimbabwe would take its place as a full member of the international community.

  17. Ministers, recalling that the Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) had been set up in 1969, took note of the Committee's achievements during its first ten years. They commended its innovative and flexible approach to many problems of the human environment in fields such as energy conservation, alternative energy sources and pollution. Ministers noted the studies launched in 1979, including those on the restoration and conservation of monuments, and on Man's impact on the stratosphere, as well as projected studies on the management of technology.


  1. The Ministers who participated in the special meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers on 12th December 1979 noted with satisfaction that the decisions taken today by the North Atlantic Council in their opinion complemented those adopted at that meeting. Taken together, along with continuing activities following from decisions reached at the London and Washington Meetings, they constitute a comprehensive programme of action. This programme comprises measures to reduce the military imbalance through concrete improvement and modernization of long-range theatre nuclear and conventional forces, and the following wide range of initiatives particularly in the fields of confidence- building and arms control designed to improve mutual security and co-operation in Europe:

    • an offer to negotiate for substantial reductions in the level of long-range theatre nuclear forces as well as inter-continental strategic forces within the framework of SALT III;

    • unilateral withdrawal of one thousand US nuclear warheads from Europe as part of the 12th December decision;

    • a proposal for an interim Phase I agreement for Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions, designed to give fresh impetus to the MBFR negotiations;

    • a proposal for a package of associated measures in MBFR designed to ensure compliance with the agreement and to make military activities more transparent, thereby improving mutual confidence;

    • in furtherance of the CSCE process, readiness to examine proposals concerning Confidence-Building Measures and a Conference on Disarmament in Europe.

    These Ministers are determined that the 1980s should see a fundamental change for the better in the situation between East and West and will make every effort to bring this about. The programme of action which they envisage offers the best opportunity for creating more constructive relations between East and West for which their citizens have hoped for so long.

    These Ministers considered that this programme represents a major new opportunity for the countries of the Warsaw Pact to translate into action the interest they have signalled in improving the situation in Europe, They call on the Warsaw Pact Governments to respond to this offer by making a determined effort, in all available negotiating fora, to achieve substantial results which will enhance security and mutual trust.

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