8 Dec. 1998

Statement On CFE

Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council
with the Three Invited Countries held in Brussels

Adaptation of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE): Restraint And Flexibility

The North Atlantic Council and the Representatives of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Poland stated on behalf of the 19 Governments represented the following:
  1. The CFE Treaty will continue to be a cornerstone of European security. The States Parties have an historic opportunity and responsibility to adapt this legally-binding document to meet new security realities and ensure the Treaty's long-term effectiveness.

  2. We, the North Atlantic Council, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland are committed to seek early and balanced progress on all outstanding Adaptation issues. Our objective is the signature of an Adapted Treaty by Heads of State and Government at the next OSCE Summit in 1999. We call on all other States Parties to contribute actively to realizing this goal.

  3. Consistent with this objective, we reaffirm our commitment to maintain only such military capabilities as are commensurate with our legitimate security needs, taking into account our obligations under international law. We have no intention of using the adaptation Negotiations to secure narrow political or military advantages. CFE Treaty Adaptation should enhance the security of all States in Europe, whether or not they are members of a political military Alliance.

  4. In Vienna, we have put forward a comprehensive series of detailed proposals dealing with all aspects of adaptation. These are designed to ensure continued predictability and transparency as well as a greater degree of stability in the European military environment and a further lowering of holdings of Treaty Limited Equipment among the CFE States Parties, consistent with the requirement of conflict prevention and crisis management.

  5. In the context of a suitably adapted and legally binding CFE Treaty whose provisions meet our security needs, including our requirements for flexibility, we will continue to exercise restraint in relation to the levels and deployments of our conventional armed forces in all parts of the Treaty's Area of Application. This statement sets out how we would use the proposed mechanisms of an Adapted Treaty:

    • Our military posture would reflect our common determination that, in the current and foreseeable security environment, we will carry out our collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial ground or air combat forces.

    • There would be significant reductions in permitted levels of Treaty Limited Equipment for many of us.

    • Consistent with our previous proposals and in the context of comparable restraint from others in the region, many of us in and around Central Europe would not increase our Territorial Ceilings - the total levels of tanks, artillery and ACVs permitted on a permanent basis on our territories.

    • Moreover, any temporary presence of Treaty Limited Equipment on our territories would be directly governed by the relevant legally-binding provisions of the Adapted Treaty.

    • We and all our Treaty Partners would undertake broad and unprecedented transparency and predictability in our military activities.

    • We would continue to pursue opportunities for cooperative efforts, not just among ourselves but with our partners, in crisis management and conflict prevention.

    • We expect all other CFE States Parties to exercise comparable restraint, and working together as partners, to strengthen this new pattern of cooperative security in Europe as we continue our work on the complex task of adapting the CFE Treaty to better meet new security challenges.

On Ceilings and Holdings

  1. An important goal of CFE Treaty Adaptation should be a significant lowering in the total amount of Treaty Limited Equipment (TLE) permitted in the Treaty's Area of Application. States Parties have already agreed to replace the bloc-to-bloc structure of the original Treaty with a new system of limitations based on National Ceilings (NCs) and Territorial Ceilings (TCs). This system will be more constraining than the Treaty's current structure of limits on the amount of equipment that may be located in large geographic zones.

  2. Many of us have already indicated in Vienna the intention to accept limits on national equipment entitlements that are more restrictive than under the current Treaty. This was an early signal of the restraint with which we are determined to approach the adaptation process. Some Allies, in the context of a satisfactory Treaty package, are prepared to consider further reductions where possible.

  3. The system of Territorial Ceilings itself ensures strict limits on deployments across national boundaries. Our proposals make clear that we see adjustment of Territorial Ceilings as a procedure to address long-term shifts in security needs, and not as a means to achieve tactical flexibility. Consistent with that approach we have proposed that all adjustments to Territorial Ceilings above a specified equipment level be agreed by consensus of the Treaty Parties. We reaffirm our proposed "specific stabilising measures" which, inter alia, would require certain States Parties to set their Territorial Ceilings no higher than current maximum national levels for holdings and not revise them upward. In this context, some other nations may be prepared, in the framework of a satisfactory Treaty package, to renounce the flexibility of adjustment of ceilings, also subject to review at a specified time.


  1. On 14 March 1997 the North Atlantic Council stated that: "In the current and foreseeable security environment, the Alliance will carry out its collective defence and other missions by ensuring the necessary interoperability, integration, and capability for reinforcement rather than by additional permanent stationing of substantial combat forces". The governments of the 16 members of the Alliance reaffirm and the governments of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Hungary and the Republic of Poland associate themselves with this Statement, in its entirety.

  2. This Statement covers ground and air combat forces. It does not relate to headquarters or other military support activities needed to meet our military requirements for reinforcement, interoperability or integration. We will provide further evidence of our intentions as to any future stationing through increased transparency with regard to our defence plans and programmes.

Treaty Mechanisms

  1. The long-term nature of the Treaty, the fundamentally constraining function of the system of National and Territorial Ceilings, the existence of security uncertainties, and the difficulty of predicting the future, all make it important that States Parties can manage crises within the framework of the Adapted Treaty. The proposed System of Temporary Deployments above TCs is designed to meet this need. In fulfillment of our commitment to restraint, we will make use of the Temporary Deployment provisions of an Adapted Treaty only in a manner consistent with strengthening overall and regional stability in Europe. Any such deployment used for crisis management purposes should have a stabilising effect. Its size, structure and composition will be geared to the crisis situation underlying its immediate tasks. While reserving the right under an Adapted Treaty to use fully such flexibilities as Exceptional Temporary Deployments above and headroom below Territorial Ceilings, in order to meet future contingencies, in the current and foreseeable security environment, we do not expect circumstances requiring deployments on the Territory of any State Party in excess of the TLE levels we have proposed for Exceptional Temporary Deployments. In addition, we will seek to prevent any potentially threatening broader or concurrent build-up of conventional forces. We expect other States Parties to exercise similar restraint. To this end, we declare:

    • It is not, and will not be, our policy to use Temporary Deployment provisions for the purpose of permanent stationing of combat forces.

    • Without prejudice to the national right to use headroom under TCs, we will exercise restraint with regard to the levels of any equipment temporarily deployed. We undertake to use fully any headroom, where available, prior to any implementation of the Treaty's Temporary Deployment right to exceed TCs. This will have the effect of minimizing the actual amount of any equipment temporarily in excess of the TC.

    • Similarly, our use of Exceptional Temporary Deployment (ETD) provisions under an adapted Treaty will not be routine. In the current and foreseeable security environment, we do not envisage circumstances requiring frequent resort to ETDs. Nor do we see the concept of such deployments as directed against any specific country.

    • Because such an occurrence would be unusual, it will be accompanied by appropriate political measures, within the OSCE, through which the nature of the exceptional circumstances having given rise to any ETD might be explained. We have proposed that the Adapted Treaty include significantly enhanced opportunities for transparency and verification in connection with any such deployment.

    • We will ensure that our use of Treaty flexibilities does not result in TLE in excess of a Territorial Ceiling by more than the amount permitted for an ETD.

  2. Increased transparency will be essential in providing the basis for our approach to the above issues and should provide greater opportunities to monitor compliance to match the spirit of openness prevalent in Europe today. We are also taking parallel action in Vienna to provide greater transparency concerning new or substantially improved military infrastructure and, more broadly, militarily significant activities and developments.

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