for Publication from the Minutes
In addition to the Communiqué Foreign Ministers decided to publish the following extracts from the Minutes of their Meeting in Brussels on 17th and 18th December, 1990.
of the Ministerial Meeting of the Council
- Basing of the United States 401st Tactical Fighter Wing
- The Foreign Ministers of the nations concerned, meeting in Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council, note with approval the discussion and affirmation of continued support for construction with common infrastructure funding of the new airbase at Crotone which occurred in the recent Defence Planning Committee meeting. They note that the consensus of Defence Ministers reflected the conviction that:
- The evolving security challenges facing NATO, including the changing nature of the threat and the planned reductions in forces and bases throughout the Alliance, make the retention of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing in NATO's southern region more important now than ever before. With fewer forces deployed, those remaining must be located in the most advantageous positions.
- The changes currently underway in Europe, such as the implementation of CFE reductions, the diminished threat in the central region, and the closure of many existing NATO bases, all make the continuation of construction of a new air base at Crotone our best course of action. As recent events have shown, the southern region is close to many potential threats.
- There are no existing air bases in NATO, particularly in the southern region, which could serve as an adequate peacetime basing location that would permit the 401st TFW to meet fully its responsibilities to NATO. Bases in the region are either occupied by host countries or lack adequate facilities to support the 401st.
- Furthermore, the Ministers note that the base at Crotone, replacing the facilities and functions of the base at Torrejon, Spain in support of the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, is intended to serve as a peacetime NATO base. Consistent with the need to respect national sovereignty and the past practices in Italy and other NATO countries, use of Crotone for military missions outside of the European Theatre would be considered on a case-by-case basis as agreed between the two governments. As has been the case with other US forces withdrawn from Europe for the Gulf crisis, there are no restrictions that would preclude the United States from exercising its authority to withdraw these aircraft from their NATO commitment and to redeploy them if their presence and capabilities are required for military missions outside of the European Theatre.
Therefore, the Foreign Ministers concerned join with their defence colleagues in unanimously reaffirming the continued importance to the Alliance of basing the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing in the southern region and in endorsing continuation of construction with common infrastructure funding of a new airbase at Crotone, Italy, for the Wing's future deployment.
Economic Cooperation and Assistance within the Alliance
- The Ministers noted a report by the Secretary General which examined the conditions in the economically less favoured members of the Alliance and outlined Western efforts in economic assistance to and cooperation with these countries.
The report particularly highlighted the adverse effects of the Gulf crisis on the economies concerned. It underlined that of all NATO countries, Greece, Portugal and Turkey are seriously affected by the implementation of UN imposed trade sanctions against Iraq and that Turkey, as a front line state, suffers considerable economic costs.
The report stated that while the Allies are to be commended for the regular and substantial assistance provided through the various fora and channels, they must continue to be aware of these countries' special economic needs and of their higher vulnerability to external shocks.
It was noted in the Secretary General's report that the transfer of military equipment through implementation of the CFE treaty could bring about significant improvements in their equipment.
The Situation in the Mediterranean
- Ministers noted the report on the situation in the Mediterranean. In view of the growing impact on the Alliance of events in the area, they requested the Council in permanent session to maintain close consultation on the question and to submit further reports at their future meetings.
- Ministers took note of the Secretary General's report on the activities of the Committee in 1990.
They expressed satisfaction with the extraordinary vitality of NATO's Science Programme and with the standards achieved, which resulted in its greater visibility. Ministers noted the capacity of the Science Committee to face the new challenges of our times, as demonstrated by the invitations extended to experts from Eastern and Central Europe, in order to allow them to participate with their Western colleagues in scientific activities.
Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society
- Ministers took note of the Secretary General's report on the activities of the CCMS in 1990. In particular they praised the outcome of the two Plenary Sessions of the Committee, held in June in Erice and in November in Brussels.
They noted that a total of 20 projects for new pilot studies have been examined and 10 new pilot studies launched, and that, to enhance the effectiveness of the work carried out, a special meeting would take place in February 1991 to discuss new methods to identify areas where future pilot studies could be conducted.
Conference of National Armaments Directors
- Ministers noted the Report by the Conference of National Armaments Directors. They noted the investigation to be undertaken by a group of nations of ways of encouraging defence trade within the Alliance. They also noted moves to intensify transatlantic cooperation in defence research, progress on the NATO conventional armaments planning system and a specific initiative in the area of operational standardisation and interoperability.