|Updated: 12-Mar-2001||NATO Speeches|
7 July 1989
Address to the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner
As the 1980s draw to a close, the Alliance is already rising to the challenge
of the 21 st century. Our recent summit meeting proves two things: that
we fully grasp the dimensions of this challenge; and that this Alliance
has the vitality, the unity and the forward-looking policies to faithfully
serve our Western inter-ests.
We are dealing not with inevitabilities, but with choices. What type
of continent, based on which foundations, do we want to emerge from this
dynamic of change? And how can we impose our preferences on those of others?
This was the theme of our summit; but it concerns not just Heads of State
and Government. It is the collective responsibility of all Western policy-makers
to think long and hard about our options and to formulate our goals. Thus
I am glad to see the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung prove by this meeting that
it too is responding to the challenge.
All of us are aware that we are living in a time of historic transition.
The post-war world is coming to an end. Nobody regrets this. It was the
Cold War world, characterised by oppres-sion, injustice and lack of freedom
in Eastern Europe. However, in the current phase of transition and uncertainty,
history is like the Roman god, Janus, with his two faces: on the one hand,
there are opportunities, new possibilities to create a more peaceful and
stable Europe, to bring greater democracy, freedom and economic prosperity
to Eastern Europe, and in doing so to make a substan-tial contribution
to world peace and development. Yet on the other hand, the very scope
of change means that there are risks and dangers. We must not over-estimate
the risks, but at the same time we cannot afford to ignore them.
This fundamental duality determines the future role and tasks of our
Alliance. We must help peaceful change to move along at its natural speed
while preserving a framework of stability. Indeed the two aspects are
interrelated: without stability there can be no real progress; without
real progress no stability. This is one of those rare junctures in history
when we can actively shape events. To succeed, we will need vision, courage
and inspired political leadership; just like that displayed by the Atlantic
Alliance's founding fathers 40 years ago when they responded to the need,
hunger and despair that dominated post-war Europe. In a similar period
of great historic change, they had a clear purpose that turned the situation
around, replacing fear with hope, pessimism with optimism. Western Europe
recovered, and we regained our security, prosperity and freedom.
We have reaped the fruit planted by our predecessors. It is the success
of this Alliance in keeping the peace in Europe for the longest period
since Roman times, in containing Soviet expansionism, and in giving the
West the cohesion to re-emerge as the driving force of democracy and social
progress that explains the pressure for change in the Communist world
We owe it to ourselves to complete the task that they began: to create
the basis of a permanent peace in Europe and of democratic political change
in the East. With our ideas of pluralism, freedom and economic liberalism
in the ascendancy, not only in Europe but throughout the world, we have
never had a better opportunity. For everywhere you care to look, these
ideas race across borders. The desires of some Eastern leaders to keep
their walls, barbed wire and border guards, or even introduce them anew,
remind me of King Canute's attempt to roll back the waves.
The Alliance is the reason why we are at this hopeful juncture today.
We must therefore remember that it is only with firm cohesion that we
can manage the process of change successfully. If we forget this all-important
lesson of our past - and allow our opportunity to slip away - we will
have only ourselves to blame.
I have outlined the challenge. It brings me to my essential point. The
Alliance is fully capable of meeting it. NATO is no prisoner of its past,
nor victim of its own success. It is geared to the future. Better East-West
relations or reform in parts of the East do not mean that our agenda is
exhausted. On the contrary, they give us a fuller agenda and many new
tasks. Our Alliance has always been indispensable as a framework of stability
and war prevention. In addition, it is just as indispensable as an instrument
of peaceful political change. The two go together. No other framework
brings the combined weight of Western Europe and North America to bear
on this great challenge of promoting and managing change; and without
both continents working together, we cannot hope to succeed.
We will use this time of change to our full advantage. Already we are
actively shaping events. Each day brings the achievement of our goals
closer. It is only in the military sphere that this is a defensive alliance.
When it comes to our vision of the world in the year 2000, to our values,
ideas and concepts, we are on the political offensive.
Our ultimate aim is nothing less than to overcome the division of Europe,
including that of Germany. A bold ambition, but finally after forty years
of NATO, it is now within our grasp. Today the Communist countries are
no longer able to sustain indefinitely the artificial barriers which sheltered
them. They cannot operate in isolation from the international community
or world economic system. If they now persevere with the past, their crisis
becomes only worse. If some leaders are turning finally to our values,
it is not simply because they find no answers within the traditional reference
points of their ideology; nor simply because they see their peoples attracted
overwhelmingly to these values. It is first and foremost because Western
notions - human rights, the rule of law, market forces - are the only
ones that experience has shown to work in practice. There is no alternative.
As a consequence, the political role and function of NATO is increasing
in importance. Something that was occasionally lost sight of during the
Cold War is acknowledged again: NATO is a political Alliance, a community
of the destinies and values of the free world.
In our Summit Declaration you will find our vision of Europe in the year
2000 and beyond. It is not a vague concept. It indicates clear foundations
and an architecture for the future Europe:
The message of the summit is that we are for movement, for dynamic change
of the status quo, to overcome confrontation and end the Cold War, sweeping
away its most offensive symbols such as walls and barbed wire, and we
are for doing so quickly, in a manner which builds on the security and
stability we have created over the years. We know that the worst enemies
of security are not weapons, even if they are nuclear weapons. It is not
missiles which prevent lasting peace, but political confrontation, the
division of Europe and the suppression of human rights. Weapons and soldiers
are not the cause of tension and conflict - they are rather the consequence.
This is why we must concentrate on the political future of Europe. It
is time to free the political debate from its fixation with weapons, strategy
and disarmament and turn it towards the decisive questions of the political
reshap-ing of Europe. We cannot finally resolve the problem of security
by military means. What we must achieve is a Europe in which armed might
becomes unimportant. The shining example for this is the Franco-German
We have an interest in Gorbachev's success. We are not standing passively
aside. We support his reform policies as well as we can when they enhance
openness, human rights and pluralism. However, we will not let ourselves
be deceived by illusions. The Soviet Union is not democratic. It is still
- and will be for a long time - a great military power, and thus dangerous.
And of course the actions of its leader are determined by the national
superpower interests of the Soviet Union, and not by consideration for
us. Reform policies could still fail, and of course people and aims could
Therefore we must remain on our guard and not neglect our security. It
would be foolish to remain passive and suspicious, but equally we cannot
entrust security and freedom to the goodwill of a Soviet leader alone.
We can and must do both things: encourage detente and maintain a credible
defence. Then we are ready for anything.
That is our Alliance's policy as it is set out in the Summit Declaration.
Unfortunately this important and even visionary document has not yet received
the attention it deserves. I am confident that it will.
Our Declaration makes clear: we will reward those Eastern countries determined
to move forward and to embrace our values irreversibly. On the other hand,
we will withold our assistance to those other countries that still seem
intent on resisting the winds of change and on clinging desperately to
a discredited, outmoded system.
We will redouble our efforts and use all possibilities for co-operation
and dialogue. Some examples are:
At the same time, we must make sure that our support leads to more democracy
and freedom in the East. We therefore expect actions such as:
In particular, the statement on the right to self-determination of all
peoples contained in the German-Soviet Declaration of 13 June 1989 must
now be reflected in practice. This will be a measure of the progress in
Attention has tended to focus on arms control and strategic nuclear forces.
And indeed disarmament and arms control are important factors for increasing
stability in Europe. The comprehensive concept of disarmament and arms
control, which the Heads of State and Government approved at the Summit,
shows that our governments have developed clear and extensive foundations
for negotiations. In all areas we seek security at the lowest possible
level of armament.
Indeed, in the field of disarmament the decisive initiatives have also
come from the West. For example:
Yet at the same time disarmament and arms control cannot be substitutes for political solutions. And they are only possible if our security remains guaranteed. Detente and defence do not contradict each other. I must warn against attempts to set up these two goals against each other as if the Alliance and its defensive strategy stood in the way of an understanding between East and West.
In the field of conventional weapons we have set ourselves particularly
ambitious goals, as the new initiative of US President Bush makes clear.
Obviously for this Alliance the Vienna negotiations have overriding importance.
For it is there that our security interests intersect most closely with
our political goals. Major Soviet force reductions and withdrawals will
not only allow but also accelerate the political changes we wish to encourage.
So I invite all of you to watch Vienna as the reliable barometer of the
real Soviet intentions for Europe.
The new proposal confirms once again that the true initiative in East-West
relations lies with the West. It is true of ideas and conceptual leadership,
of the dynamic energy to change history and of the proposals in the disarm-ament
process. The East is turning to the West. Communism has proved incapable
of solving the problems of modern industrial societies. Its attraction
is faded and its leaders know it. So we are right to be optimistic - history
is on the side of freedom. The wind is against the dictatorships.
So, for me at least, the answer to the question you have set me this
morning is clear. The West does not need a new strategy for its security.
Indeed, I am convinced that the principles of our political and military
strategy, which have guaranteed our peace for decades, are today as valid
as ever. This strategy has contributed decisively to protecting Europe
from war, while all about us there have been 150 conflicts since the Second
World War. There is no other currently conceivable strategy which could
so successfully protect us. And when I say "us", I mean all
16 Allies, not simply the nations on or near the East-West border in Central
Europe. A NATO strategy must give equal protection to all, despite immense
geographical disparities and problems of reinforcement and resupply. Of
course: no strategy is for eternity. And every strategy has to be adapted
to changing circumstances. A conventional balance in Europe at minimum
levels would have consequences for our strategy -without eliminating the
need for a minimum nuclear deterrent.
Nuclear weapons have prevented not merely atomic conflicts, but also
conventional wars between states which possess nuclear weapons. They have
achieved something which conventional weapons could not through the milleniums
of our history: they have prevented the use of military force. The complete
elimination of nuclear weapons would not make the world safer. In any
case it would not be possible, because the knowledge of how to make them
could not be removed from human minds. A Europe free of nuclear weapons
would not bring more but less security against military conflicts. Nuclear
deterrence has proven to be superior to previous methods in displacing
war as a political option.
Thus, it is false to see a contradiction between the existence of nuclear
weapons and the construction of a peaceful European order. Our strategy
of deterrence and our weapons are no barrier to political progress. They
cannot conceivably be used for any other purpose but self-defence. Our
goal remains a militarily stable situation with an agreed minimum of conventional
and nuclear weapons on both sides to exclude any thought of war.
It is equally nonsensical to imagine a contradiction between the Alliance
strategy and German interests, as has been done in recent months in connection
with the discussion on short-range nuclear weapons. A special threat to
Germany has mistakenly been raised. This culminated in the specially foolish
slogan "the shorter the range the deader the Germans". Those
who argue like this have thoroughly misunderstood our strategy. It is
not a strategy of war, but of war prevention, and that is how it has worked
in practice. Germans have had the greatest benefit from the peace which
it has maintained - the security, freedom and well-being of our country
has rested on this foundation for four decades. It is first and foremost
in the German interest that the strategy of flexible response and forward
defence remains credible in the future.
Thinking in war scenarios will thus certainly lead us astray. There is
no special threat to Germany except that inherent in its geographical
situation on the dividing line between East and West. From that situation
we can see that there is only one real German interest: to prevent all
wars whether nuclear or conventional, for any war in Europe would destroy
The Soviet Union would do well to give up its attempts to denuclearise
Europe. Together with us it should create a security structure for Europe
including an agreed minimum of nuclear weapons which would guarantee military
stability and plainly show any war or even the threat of military force
to be senseless and useless. Such a mutually agreed security order in
Europe and between the global powers would maintain deterrence as a safeguard
in a security system which is governed by stability, legitimacy and confidence
in the displacement of war as an instrument of politics.
The two outstanding tasks of the Alliance in the next decade are mapped
out. The first is the political guidance of historical change towards
a new, more just and lasting order of peace and freedom. The second is
maintenance of a stable basis for preventing war and guaranteeing peace.
"Change in security" should be our motto.
Courage and leadership are now more necessary than ever. On the one hand
to boldly point the way ahead in East-West relations; on the other hand
to persuade our publics that success has its conditions: without a robust
defence, their hopes for a brighter tomorrow could fade even more rapidly
than they arose.
The recent Summit of Heads of State and Government was a triumph for the understanding that we can only approach our political goals together. We are ready to take up the challenge of history. Our vision of an undivided and free Europe is a great one which it is worth striving for. And this Atlantic Alliance, provided we keep it strong and united, gives us the opportunity to make it a reality in our lifetime.