Updated: 27-Oct-2000 Ministerial Communiqus


May 1990

Final Communiqué

Chairman: Manfred Wörner


Fundamental changes in Central and Eastern Europe - Adaptation of NATO to new conditions - NATO's rôle as focus of Western efforts to influence change in Europe - Potential rô1e for CSCE and arms control - Maintenance of a stable framework for change and establishment of a lasting peace - Reduced military risks - Rô1e of unilateral Soviet and Warsaw Pact force reductions in redressing imbalance in Europe - CFE implementation - Further confidence and security building measures - Prospects for dramatic improvement in mutual security - Maintenance of adequate collective defence including presence of North American forces in Europe - Comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament - Short-term adjustments to defence posture - Preparations for longer-term changes - Modification of 3% general target for annual defence expenditure increases - Resource implications of CFE - Maintenance of credible defence posture - Diminished readiness and availability of standing forces - Reduction in exercises - Reductions and adjustments to training programmes - Maintenance of operational standards - Review of location of NATO Tactical Fighter Centre - Multinational forces - Use of civil resources for defence - CNAD Work Plan - 1990 Force Goals - Early implementation of CFE Treaty - Negotiations of further reductions of armed forces in Europe - Rô1e of collective security in a period of unprecedented change and opportunity.

  1. The Defence Planning Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation met in Ministerial session in Brussels on 22nd and 23rd May,1990.

  2. Our meetings this Spring mark the beginning of a new era. When we met two weeks ago in Canada to discuss nuclear matters, we underlined the fundamental nature of the changes under way in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Both the spread of democracy in those countries and the unification of Germany are transforming the political shape of Europe. In consequence the nature of the security challenges facing the Alliance is being radically altered. NATO is determined to make the most of the opportunities created by these developments and is adapting to the new conditions in Europe, while also serving as a major focus of Western efforts to influence them. We reaffirmed that NATO remains the foundation of our collective security. At the same time we also see the potential for the CSCE and arms control processes to serve as important and complementary means of developing measures to strengthen co-operative security. Our objective is to maintain a stable framework for change enabling the establishment of a lasting peace with freedom in Europe.

  3. As a result of these political changes and NATO's successful policies, the military risks facing the Alliance have already been greatly reduced. We look forward to the completion of Soviet and Warsaw Pact unilateral force reductions as announced. Full implementation of these reductions will contribute to redressing the significant imbalance of forces in Europe. This imbalance will, however, be removed only by the implementation of a successful agreement on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). According to an initial assessment by the NATO Military Authorities, the implementation of a CFE Treaty, together with further confidence and security building measures, will virtually eliminate the possibility of a surprise attack on NATO as a whole by vastly superior conventional forces. As a result, the minimum warning time for any large scale offensive operation will substantially increase. Overall, such an agreement, once implemented, will produce a dramatic improvement in our mutual security. We therefore stress the importance of concluding a Treaty this year and call upon the Soviet Union to work constructively with all other parties towards achieving this aim.

  4. Such a fundamental process of change carries with it its own potential for instability and uncertainty. In addition, even after the satisfactory conclusion of current arms control negotiations, the Soviet Union will continue to retain substantial, modern and effective nuclear and conventional forces. The fundamental need to maintain our security therefore remains vital. The resolution and solidarity with which we have maintained adequate collective defence arrangements for so long, including the presence of significant North American conventional and nuclear forces in Europe, will continue to be crucial factors in the building of a lasting peaceful order in Europe.

  5. We are already moving with the times. The principles of Alliance security set out in the Comprehensive Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament remain valid. On this basis, and looking forward to the forthcoming NATO Summit which will consider NATO's role in a transformed Europe in the 1990s, we have decided to undertake a review of NATO's military strategy and that we will continue to adapt our defence requirements to ensure that they take full account of the new circumstances now emerging. We will also need to adjust the operational concepts and doctrines which underpin the strategy, so that they continue to meet our security requirements.

  6. We are in a period of transition. We are making important progress in achieving our longstanding aim of enhancing security and stability in Europe at the lowest possible levels of forces consistent with our security needs. We are addressing together the challenges of reducing and adapting our defences through the well-proven collective planning procedures of the Alliance. This means, in the short term, making adjustments to our defence posture where we believe it is sensible and safe to do so, and, for the longer term, preparing to make more fundamental changes. In this process of planning for the future we attach importance to retaining flexibility in order to allow the Alliance to respond quickly and positively to the changing environment.

  7. We can now begin to reap the benefits of the greatly improved climate in East/ West relations. As a first step, we have concluded that the general target, first agreed in 1977, of annual real increases in defence expenditure of the order of 3% is no longer appropriate, although expenditure plans will continue to need to reflect particular national circumstances. The need to maintain a credible and effective defence posture will remain the basis for determining the resources required for our collective defence. As a result of a CFE Treaty, some reduction in overall defence expenditure can be expected. However, these savings will be partly offset by costs associated with the implementation of a treaty, e.g. the cost of destruction, verification and the necessary restructuring of our forces. In the longer term, further reduction in overall defence expenditure may be possible through a continuation of the arms control process.

  8. We have further decided to take steps to lower the readiness and availability of a number of our standing forces. We have already made significant cuts in the size and number of exercises. As a result of comprehensive review by the NATO Military Authorities we have decided to make further substantial reductions and adjustments to our training programmes while still continuing to maintain necessary operational standards. This will reduce the impact on the public, will benefit the quality of life and protect the environment. We also reviewed the question of the location of the NATO Tactical Fighter Centre and agreed not to pursue further the sites under consideration but to examine alternative ways of meeting our training requirements.

  9. Looking towards the longer term we attach particular importance to a study which we have invited the NATO Military Authorities to undertake into the possibilities for greater use of multinational forces. The current study on the future concept and employment of reinforcements will be an important element in our assessment of post-CFE requirements. We are examining the scope for making greater use of civil resources for defence. We welcome the Work Plan being developed by the Conference of National Armaments Directors, aimed at maximising the benefits of armaments co-operation in a post-CFE environment. We have commissioned a reassessment of all the political demands on our common funding resources, including those related to implementation of a CFE Treaty, in order to establish a revised set of priorities.

  10. We are planning ahead for the implementation of a CFE Treaty and in the meantime have taken steps to ensure that our force posture remains appropriate and flexible. The 1990 Force Goals have been adopted as a transitional package with this aim firmly in view. They provide, in the face of considerable uncertainty, a sound framework for the way ahead. In preparation for early signature and timely implementation of a CFE agreement, good progress has been made towards apportioning the potential equipment reductions and setting residual national ceilings. We are determined to ensure that the implementation of the treaty will result in the retention of a balanced and coherent NATO force structure and contribute towards an effective division of labour. Beyond CFE, we look forward to continuing negotiations through which armed forces in Europe can be further reduced in accordance with our longstanding security aims.

  11. The Alliance is entering a new decade in which it will face unprecedented change and opportunity. In the midst of change, the need for an established and reliable system of collective security will remain undiminished, We shall therefore hold fast to the basic principle of war prevention through deterrence and defence. In adapting our defence efforts to meet the needs of a changing world, we shall ensure that the levels, structures, and operational concepts of our armed force continue to evolve in a positive and constructive way. We have the determination, experience and vision to manage and steer events towards a future in which we aim for a co-operative, not confrontational, approach to the challenges that will lie ahead.

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