Updated: 27-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


Dec. 1988

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Manfred Wörner


Signs of change in the policies of the Soviet Union - Promising prospects for improved East-West dialogue - Address made by President Gorbachev at the 43rd UN General Assembly - Search for ways to ease division of Europe - Current developments in Eastern Europe - Hopes for a new Soviet approach - Vienna CSCE Follow-up Meeting - Full support for US position on START - Implementation of INF Treaty - Progress towards early ratification of Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty and Threshold Test Ban Treaty - Conventional imbalance in Europe - Forthcoming conventional stability negotiations - Soviet conventional force reductions - Publication of NATO data on conventional forces in Europe - Statement on Allied proposals for forthcoming negotiations on conventional stability and further confidence and security-building measures in Europe - MBFR - Early conclusion of a worldwide, comprehensive and effectively verifiable ban on chemical weapons - Conference of the states party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol - Outstanding issues in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament - Controls on the export of commodities related to chemical weapons production - Further development of the comprehensive concept of arms control and disarmament - Reaffirmed commitment to equal share of risks, burdens, responsibilities and benefits of Alliance participation - Publication of report on enhancing collective security - Current Western initiative on Berlin - Continued efforts of the Federal Republic of Germany to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with the GDR - Situation in Afghanistan - Condemnation of terrorism - Improving the present level of cooperation and assistance within the Alliance - Coordination agreements between Major NATO Commanders and Spanish Military Authorities - Civil emergency planning and preparedness - Alliance's 40th Anniversary - East-West trade - Situation in the Mediterranean - Armaments cooperation and planning - Canadian proposals for assistance for countries with lesser developed defence industries.

  1. Our meeting has taken place amid clear signs of change in the internal and external policies of the Soviet Union and of some of its allies. Promising prospects are opening up for an improved East-West dialogue. We are encouraged by this trend which, if sustained, would provide us with an unprecedented opportunity to shape a better international environment reflecting our basic values and the aspirations of our peoples.

    Among the most promising recent developments is the address made by President Gorbachev at the 43rd UN General Assembly, which indicates the extent of change in Soviet policies.

    We will continue to seize every opportunity to co-operate in the search for political solutions to East-West differences, with a view to promoting our ultimate aim of a just and lasting peaceful order in Europe.

  2. In the pursuit of this endeavour, we look for further tangible and lasting changes addressing directly the issues dividing East and West. We reiterate our willingness to work closely with the Soviet Union and its allies in the search for ways to ease and finally overcome the painful division of Europe.

    We will continue to evaluate closely the current developments in eastern Europe, where pressures for movement toward political and economic reform are mounting. While welcoming progress achieved in certain areas, we need to take a realistic view of developments. The Soviet Union and other Eastern countries still have to meet fully their obligations on human rights. Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the recent introduction or announcement of important measures in this field. In the defence area we express the hope that President Gorbachev's address also represents the starting point of a new approach by the Soviet Union to the size and structure of their military forces and programmes, which both in the nuclear and conventional fields still exceed any reasonable defence need.

  3. Our approach to these developments will continue to be based on :

    • the validity of the Harmel Report with its two complementary and mutually reinforcing principles, adequate military strength and political solidarity, and, on that basis, the search for constructive dialogue and co-operation, including arms control ;

    • the common interests, as well as the historical, cultural and moral values that tie the United States, Canadian and European members of our Alliance indivisibly together ; these are at the basis of the commitment of the North American democracies to the preservation of peace and security in Europe. A free, independent and increasingly united Europe is vital to North America's security ;

    • the continuing validity of our strategy of deterrence for the prevention of war in the terms set out in the declaration of our Heads of State and Government at their Summit Meeting of March of this year ;

    • our firm resolve to maintain the strategic unity of the Alliance and the principle of indivisibility of security.

  4. The security policy of the Alliance embraces a broad spectrum of political as well as military concerns. We attach particular importance to the CSCE process, which provides a road map for stable and constructive relations between East and West and for a dynamic evolution in Europe. We note with regret that a number of governments in the East still continue to ignore important provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and the Madrid Concluding Document; full implementation of the undertakings contained in these documents, including full respect for human rights, is an essential requirement for genuine peace and enhancement of mutual confidence. We will continue to strive for the conclusion of the CSCE Follow-Up Meeting in Vienna in the immediate future, with a substantial and balanced concluding document.

  5. Arms control is an integral part of Alliance security policy. In expressing full support for the United States position in the START negotiations, i.e. its aim to reach a 50% reduction in the strategic nuclear forces of the US and the Soviet Union, we welcome the substantial progress achieved, including preliminary agreement on key elements, and look forward to a timely, successful conclusion of these negotiations. We reaffirm the importance of the INF Treaty and welcome its smooth implementation. We also take note of progress towards the early ratification of the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty and the Threshold Test Ban Treaty as a result of the negotiations on the verification protocols to these treaties.

  6. We recall the document on conventional arms control issued by the Heads of State and Government in March of this year, which indicated that the conventional imbalance in Europe remains at the core of Europe's security concerns.

    We look forward to beginning as soon as possible conventional stability negotiations, within the framework of the CSCE process, with the objective of establishing a secure and stable balance of forces at lower levels, between the 23 members of the two military alliances in Europe. We want a situation in Europe in which force postures, as well as numbers and deployments of weapons systems, no longer make a surprise attack and a large-scale offensive action a feasible option, an option which we have never possessed or desired. Our vision remains a continent where military forces should only exist to prevent war and to ensure self-defence, not for the purpose of military aggression and not for the purposes of political or military intimidation. We therefore welcome the latest pronouncement by the Soviet leadership regarding significant reductions of Soviet conventional forces in Europe and restructuring of the remaining forces. This implicitly acknowledges our long-held view that redressing the conventional imbalance is a key to more security and stability in Europe. Implementation of these measures would be a very important first step in this direction and reduce, but not eliminate, the conventional imbalances. In particular, it would provide a very favourable impetus to the conventional stability negotiations.

    The conventional stability talks will be accompanied by distinct negotiations on further confidence-building measures among the 35 CSCE participants. Such negotiations will have to build upon and expand on the results of the Stockholm Conference, which marked a significant step towards increasing transparency and contributed to greater confidence and predictability of military activities in Europe. To promote transparency and confidence we have recently taken the initiative of publishing data on conventional forces in Europe. We look to the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization and other participating states to reciprocate this effort.

    Recognising the urgency and central importance of addressing conventional stability and increased confidence in Europe, we have adopted a separate statement outlining our proposal for the forthcoming negotiations on conventional stability and further confidence and security-building measures in Europe.

    The member states participating in the MBFR talks emphasize their agreement to the continuation of these talks until a new mandate for negotiations on conventional stability has emerged. They also agree that these talks should be concluded before the start of new negotiations.

  7. We reiterate our full commitment to the goal of an early conclusion of a truly world-wide, comprehensive and effectively verifiable ban on chemical weapons.

    In that spirit we endorse the call for a conference in Paris of the states party to the 1925 Geneva Protocol and other concerned states. We will lend our full support to its work. We expect that the Conference will strengthen the authority of the Protocol and of principles prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, recall the condemnation by the international community of the recourse to these weapons and give a strong further impetus to the negotiations on a total and effectively verifiable ban on chemical weapons.

    The solution of the outstanding issues in the negotiations at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament will not only require greater openness about capabilities in order to promote more confidence between the participating states, but also the intensification of the technical work, in particular on the crucial issue of verification, needed to underpin the negotiating effort. In the perspective of a chemical weapons ban, we also underline the importance of stringent controls on the export of commodities related to chemical weapons production. Such a ban is all the more imperative as a priority at a time of reports of use of these weapons against civilians and continuing proliferation in various parts of the world.

  8. As called for in the Ministerial statement issued in June 1988 in Madrid, we received a written report on the further development of the comprehensive concept of arms control and disarmament. We reviewed the state of work and welcomed the progress achieved to date.

    The Council in Permanent Session was directed to pursue intensively, in the perspective of the comprehensive concept, its consideration of all outstanding arms control issues, in accordance with the Reykjavik statement of June 1987, and to submit a complete report by our next meeting.

  9. We reaffirm our commitment to share fairly the risks, burdens and responsibilities, as well as the benefits, of our participation in the Alliance. This commitment to equitable sharing is a fundamental principle of the Alliance and a prerequisite for maintaining its cohesion and solidarity. We all attach great importance, in an evolving political, trade and economic environment, to maintaining balance and equity in our partnership.

    The countries concerned welcome the publication of a major and wide-ranging report on enhancing the collective security of the Alliance. It breaks new ground, and its conclusions and recommendations chart a clear course of action for the future. The report also underlines the determination of the countries concerned to ensure the provision of adequate resources available for defence and to exert the maximum effort to obtain the greatest return on their defence investment.

  10. The maintenance of a calm situation in and around Berlin and the achievement of practical improvements for Berliners remain of fundamental importance for East-West relations. In this context the Alliance strongly supports the current Western Initiative on Berlin. It welcomes progress over Berlin's inclusion in international agreements.

    The Alliance supports the continued efforts of the Federal Republic of Germany to strengthen dialogue and co-operation with the GDR in the interest of the German people, including Berliners, and thus to contribute to peace and stability in Europe.

  11. We continue to follow closely the situation in Afghanistan. We previously noted the start of the Soviet troop withdrawal and expect the Soviet Union to resume that process and to meet the 15th February deadline. We support the aspiration of the Afghan people to exercise their right to self determination and to recover their country's full sovereignty and independence.

  12. We reiterate our condemnation of terrorism in all its manifestations and reaffirm our determination to combat it. We believe international co-operation to be essential in the eradication of this scourge.

  13. In the spirit of Article 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty and in view of the prosperity gap among the various members of the Alliance, we renew our sup- port for our economically less favoured partners and reaffirm our goal of improving the present level of co-operation and assistance within the Alliance.

  14. We note and welcome the approval of the guidelines for the co-ordination agreements to be concluded between the Major NATO Commanders and the Spanish Military Authorities. We consider this to be an important event for the Alliance. It opens the way to a significant Spanish military contribution to the common defence outside the integrated military structure.

  15. We agree that civil emergency planning and preparedness are essential elements in NATO's policy of deterrence and defence. The human and financial resources required for civil preparedness constitute a cost-effective contribution to that policy, as well as to the efficiency of peacetime disaster relief arrangements. Civil emergency planning remains a responsibility of member countries. To be fully effective, the actions of the countries in this field must, however, be complemented by the maximum co-operation between capitals and at Alliance level.

  16. As our Alliance approaches its 40th Anniversary, we acknowledge the results of our common endeavour, the enduring vitality of our organisation and its ability to adapt to change while upholding its basic purposes and principles. The success of our past efforts to achieve a safer and more peaceful world enhances our confidence in the future.

  17. The Spring 1989 meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Ministerial Session will be held in London on 8th and 9th June.

In addition to the Communiqué Foreign Ministers decided to publish the following extracts from the Minutes of their Meeting in Brussels on 8th and 9th December 1988.

East-West Trade

Recalling previous statements, Ministers reaffirmed that trade conducted on the basis of commercially sound terms and mutual advantage, that avoids preferential treatment of the Soviet Union, contributes to constructive East- West relations. At the same time, bilateral economic relations with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe must remain consistent with broad Allied security concerns. These include avoiding dependance on the Soviet Union, or contributing to Soviet military capabilities. In order to avoid further use by the Soviet Union of some forms of trade to enhance its military strength, the Allies will remain vigilant in their continuing review of the security aspects of East-West economic relations. This work will assist Allied governments in the conduct of their policies in this field.

As the issue of East-West trade is of importance, the Allies will continue exchanges on this subject.

The Situation in the Mediterranean

Ministers noted the report on the Situation in the Mediterranean. In view of the actual and potential impact on Alliance security of events in the area, they requested the Council in Permanent Session to continue to consult on the question and to submit further reports at their future meetings.

Armaments Co-operation and Planning

Ministers examined the report by the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD). They noted with particular satisfaction that the trial of a NATO Conventional Armaments Planning System (CAPS) is proceeding well, and they reaffirmed the great importance they attach to this major Alliance initiative.

Ministers reviewed CNAD progress in a range of co-operative armaments projects, including those being pursued as a result of United States legislation, and welcomed the positive contribution made by these co-operative projects to the maintenance of a credible conventional defence posture.

Ministers noted with interest that the CNAD is examining Canadian proposals for assistance to countries with lesser developed defence industries, by means of research and development, cost-sharing arrangements within co-operative arms projects. They looked forward to receiving firm recommendations from the CNAD in this area at the earliest opportunity.

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