Updated: 27-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


May 1988

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Lord Carrington


Full support and solidarity of the Alliance on eve of President Reagan's meeting with General Secretary Gorbachev - Continued validity of Harmel principles - Equitable share of roles, risks, responsibilities and benefits of collective defence - Relocation of US 401st Tactical Fighter Wing in Italy - Continuing growth of Soviet military capabilities and expenditure - Flexible response and forward defence - Improving effectiveness of conventional forces - Conventional Defence Improvements action plan - Need for increased assistance to Greece, Portugal and Turkey - Military Assistance Requirements (MAREQs) - Work of the Independent European Programme Group - NATO Common Funded Infrastructure Programme - Implementation of common support facilities for NATO forces - Conventional Armaments Planning System - Progress in cooperative projects - Hopes for early entry into force of the INF Treaty - Support for US position in START negotiations - Progress towards Conventional Stability Negotiations - MBFR Talks - Defence and arms control objectives - Tribute to Lord Carrington.

  1. The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation met in Ministerial Session in Brussels on 26th and 27th May 1988.

  2. On the eve of the meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev, we declare that the President goes to Moscow with the full support and solidarity of the Alliance.

  3. We reaffirmed our commitment to preserve the peace and freedom of the Alliance, and to continue to pursue our arms control objectives of enhancing security and stability at lower levels of forces. To that end the Harmel principles remain valid, that is the maintenance of adequate military strength and political solidarity as the basis for the development of a more constructive East-West relationship.

  4. The need for all Alliance members to share equitably the roles, risks and responsibilities, as well as benefits, of collective defence has been fundamental to the success of our policies. It will remain equally vital in the future. We are therefore determined to take the required steps to consolidate our past efforts and to sustain the credibility of Alliance defence. This will not be an easy task. We recognize that serious challenges lie ahead, particularly in the provision of the necessary resources. We are convinced that these challenges must be met within the framework of the Alliance and with the spirit of solidarity that has traditionally characterised our endeavours. They will require a renewed effort by all of us to make available the necessary resources and to search on a collective basis for new and innovative ways to make the best use of these resources. We are all determined to play our part in improving our collective defence and in ensuring that each of us contributes in the most effective and equitable fashion. We agreed to commission a review of how our efforts to this end might be better focussed and to return to the issue at our next meeting.

  5. The shared interest between North America and Europe in maintaining peace and security in the North Atlantic area, and the undiminished presence of North American forces in Europe as the concrete and visible manifestation of this mutuality of interest, remain central to our strategy of deterrence and defence. In this context, we fully accepted the vital political and military importance of relocating the United States' 401st Tactical Fighter Wing in Southern Europe. We therefore invited Italy to host the Wing and agreed to fund all the required costs of relocation from the NATO Common Infrastructure Programme.

  6. We have noted statements by Soviet leaders that suggest changes in Soviet thinking on the doctrine and structure of Soviet forces. But as yet there has been no visible effect on the size and growth of Soviet armed forces, which are deployed far in excess of purely defensive needs and which continue to modernise at a steady and impressive rate. Soviet military expenditures are estimated to represent some 15 to 17% of its GNP. The continuing growth of Soviet military capabilities provides a persuasive reminder of the need for credible defence.

  7. In the face of this military power we reaffirmed that flexible response and forward defence, based on an appropriate mix of adequate and effective nuclear and conventional forces, remain vital to our security. Our views on Alliance nuclear requirements were expressed at the recent meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group in Brussels.

  8. At this meeting we concentrated our attention on our conventional forces. There are disparities in several key areas between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces which continue to concern us . It is to mitigate this situation and to avoid undue reliance on the early use of nuclear weapons that we are determined to improve the effectiveness of our conventional forces. Our intentions in this respect were reflected in the adoption of the 1988 Force Goals. These Force Goals set the NATO agreed planning targets for national defence planners, and we have undertaken to introduce them into our national plans to the maximum extent possible.

  9. The 1988 Force Goals maintain the emphasis on the Conventional Defence Improvements action plan agreed in May 1985 and direct national resources to those areas where additional effort will provide the greatest return for the collective defence of the Alliance. The provision of adequate resources and improving value for money, in accordance with the 1987 Ministerial Guidance, will continue to be a serious challenge for all nations. However, the problem of reconciling resources with force requirements has emphasised the need to pursue CDI with sustained vigour, and we are determined to make a special effort to achieve in full those force goals singled out as most relevant to it. We also agreed to redouble our efforts to optimise our collective return through closer co-operation and co-ordination.

  10. We stressed the need for broader participation by Alliance members in providing increased assistance to Greece, Portugal and Turkey to strengthen their conventional defences, in order that they may more effectively fulfil their proper roles in the collective defence of the Alliance. To that end, we have introduced into the Force Goal process for these countries a new category of Military Assistance Requirements (MAREQs). We also expressed particular interest in the continuing work of the Independent European Programme Group on assistance to these countries which aims at permitting them to participate more fully as partners in armaments co-operation programmes with their NATO Allies.

  11. We welcomed the work in hand, in response to proposals made by Spain, to develop a framework for a significant Spanish military contribution to the common defence.

  12. During our regular Biennial Review of the NATO Common Funded Infrastructure Programme, we noted impressive achievements in expediting the implementation of common support facilities for our NATO forces within the increased funding levels agreed by Ministers in December 1984. We reaffirmed the importance of this unique commonly funded and commonly managed programme and of maintaining a level of funding adequate to preserve its momentum. We agreed to take a decision at our next meeting on an initial funding commitment to the first two years (1991 and 1992) of the next six-year Slice Group.

  13. We welcomed the start, on a trial basis, of a NATO Conventional Armaments Planning System (NATO CAPS). The principal tasks of CAPS are to determine how the military requirements of the Alliance can best be met by national armaments programmes, individually and collectively, and to help elaborate armaments co-operation opportunities and priorities. CAPS offers major potential for ensuring a better, co-ordinated use of the limited financial resources available for armaments research, development and production. We are committed to its success.

  14. The Alliance has made good progress in co-operative projects, including those launched as a result of United States legislation. Studies in the important area of Follow on Forces Attack are yielding results. We continue as in the past to attach great importance to the sharing of technology among the members of the Alliance, and to the protection of militarily relevant technology.

  15. We looked forward to the early entry into force of the INF Treaty. Noting that the negotiation and signature of this Treaty may constitute an encouraging sign of change in the policies of the Soviet Union, we expressed the hope that it would lead to further progress in pursuit of the Alliance's arms control objectives as reaffirmed in the Declaration of the Heads of State and Government of 3rd March 1988. In this connection, we reiterated our full sup- port for the United States' position in the START negotiations aiming at a 50% reduction in the strategic offensive nuclear arsenals of the United States and the Soviet Union and look forward to rapid progress in that area.

  16. We recalled the Statement on Conventional Arms Control: The Way Ahead issued under the authority of the Heads of State and Government. In this context, we welcomed continuing progress made in Vienna towards convening Conventional Stability Negotiations covering the whole of Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals as part of a balanced outcome to the Vienna follow-up meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. We also reiterated our desire to achieve a meaningful agreement in the MBFR talks and urged the East to respond positively to our initiative of 5th December 1985.

  17. In looking ahead we must pursue vigorously all efforts to bring about the required improvements to our own forces. We must also ensure that our defence and our arms control objectives remain synchronised. Long term security will only be assured if these two approaches exist in complementary and harmonious relationship.

    We expressed our deep appreciation to Lord Carrington for the outstanding services he has rendered the Alliance during his term as Secretary General. We acknowledged particularly his great experience in defence matters and his contribution to the work of the Defence Planning Committee through four challenging years.

 [ Go to Comm '80-'89 Index ]  [ Go to Homepage ]