8 February 1990
Alliance and German Unity
by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner
at the Uberseeclub
The question of European security is one that must now be looked at afresh.
The rigid military confrontation of past decades is increasingly giving
way to a concern for enhanced security and to the active pursuit of peace
using a combination of military and political elements.
Two tasks have to be faced in the coming years:
Both tasks are equally indispensable for the preservation and strengthening
of peace in the long run.
- the development of a new security structure, and
- he creation of a new political order in Europe.
The Alliance therefore faces a dual challenge. It must be a driving and
guiding force in the dynamic process of change from the status quo, helping
to establish a new continental order of peace and freedom. In the second
place, it must be a source of stability, guaranteeing security in Europe,
especially in the face of erratic developments in the Soviet Union and a
difficult transitional period in Central and Eastern Europe.
The task of working out a new European security equation for the 21 st century
offers a historic opportunity. Under pressure for comprehensive change in
its system the Soviet Union favours a new security order. The basic premises
of Western security and stability - the presence of US troops on the European
continent, the continuation of the Atlantic Alliance and an ultimate nuclear
deterrent to uphold peace - are today increasingly acknowledged by the Soviet
Union as being prerequisites for stability and fundamentals of a future
I believe the following points to be important:
A future European political order must build on the right of free self-determination
of peoples. From the debate in the West the outlines of a European architecture
for peace are already visible. It is based on existing institutions which
represent the outstanding accomplishment of the post-war period:
- Only the transatlantic link, the continued integration of America
in our security structures, can guarantee stability in the long term.
The US commitment to European security is the cornerstone of the Western
system that was created after the Second World War, and which has given
us peace. Without the active participation of North America it will
not be possible to balance the Germans' interest in unity, their neighbours'
concerns and the Soviet Union's legitimate security interests, and to
reach a common position.
- The Alliance, which is the concrete expression of this transatlantic
link, remains indispensable for a future security scheme. At the same
time, the Alliance will still have the function of guiding the ongoing
arms control process.
- The starting point for the future European security structure is provided
by the Vienna negotiations. Initial results must lead to yet further
reductions in force levels and new defensive structures. The latest
US proposal to reduce American and Soviet troops in Central Europe to
less than 200,000 shows the way. Future conventional disarmament in
Europe must not remain a matter of mere bean-counting, however. It must
not merely cover force levels, but also build-up capability, logistics,
infra-structure, modes of deployment, force structures and exercise
patterns, under conditions of increased transparency.
- A new European security equation must also comprise a residual nuclear
deterrent as an ultimate guarantee of peace, with agreement on a minimum
level of nuclear armament. On this point, the most recent pronouncements
of Soviet spokesmen, including even Gorbachev, are encouraging.
- It is necessary to develop co-operative mechanisms to promote under-standing
with the East - for instance more exchanges between military academies,
reciprocal troop visits, seminars to enhance shared learning.
- Comparison of NATO with the Warsaw Pact is only conceivable or useful
if the latter changes fundamentally to become a voluntary alliance of
free and equal partners. Until this happens the two cannot properly
be equated, although they often are, through thoughtlessness or for
transparent reasons. Even to refer to both these alliances as military
blocs is grossly misleading. The Warsaw Pact itself is no longer a bloc,
let alone NATO. The Atlantic Alliance is a free association of democratic,
self-determining nations of the free world, and is purely defensive
in nature. Up till now the Warsaw Pact has been a military alliance
lacking the legitimation of a free expression of will by the peoples
involved. We hope for a change, which would decisively improve the prospects
for fruitful co-operation.
- Nevertheless we cannot and will not become guarantors of the Warsaw
Pact. We are arguing neither for its dissolution nor for its continuation.
Its fate will be determined by its members alone exercising free choice.
This must also be allowed for in the arms control process.
- Even if the Warsaw Pact does dissolve itself that is no reason for
disbanding NATO. On the contrary there is every reason to argue that
our role as an agent of stability would then become even more important.
- To equate the stationing of Soviet troops in Central and Eastern Europe
with the presence of American troops in Western Europe is neither acceptable
nor helpful. The American and Canadian troops are here with the agreement
of free parliaments and governments. The same is not true of the Soviet
forces in Central and Eastern Europe - on the contrary, the free governments
of Czechoslovakia and Hungary have demanded their withdrawal. Once again,
the removal of Soviet troops can and indeed will lead to the reduction
of American force levels, but not to a complete US withdrawal. There
are also geostrategic reasons for that. The current arms control negotiations
should not be used to legitimise the presence of Soviet troops in Central
and Eastern Europe against the will of the stationing countries, nor
to make their withdrawal conditional on that of the North American forces.
In this context the CSCE framework for a pan-European peace system assumes
special significance. The CSCE system must be extended and deepened. Such
an overarching structure, however, cannot replace but only com-plement the
Atlantic Alliance. How should a body of 35 states, which still can exercise
veto rights, really guarantee security. Only the Atlantic Alliance is able
to supply the structural base for the growing European architecture, to
over-come crises and conflicts which can never be excluded, even with the
current changes in the European landscape. The Alliance is the umbrella
under which European integration is able to grow dynamically and continually.
EC and CSCE would be overburdened if they had to carry out the task of guaranteeing
peace in the forseeable time. They do not dispose of the necessary structure
nor the corresponding instruments in their present and foreseeable state
- The process of European integration with its goal of political union;
- The Atlantic Alliance;
- The CSCE process.
Whether we are concerned with security arrangements or a peaceful political
order in Europe, we inevitably find the German question to be central.
German unity will come. We, who have striven for the triumph of democracy
and for an end to the division of Europe and of Germany, must accept the
crucial role of the peoples who are shaping the new order in the revolution
in the East. The timetable for the achievement of German unity will not
so much be determined by planners and governments as by the course of
events in the GDR, as part of the tremendous restructuring of Europe,
and by the free choice of the people there and in the Federal Republic.
What politicians and diplomats can do is to recognise these facts and
develop a framework so that the process is smooth and harmonious and avoids
crises or erratic devel-opments with the attendant risks for all of Europe.
The Alliance has been pledged to German unity since the entry of the Federal
Republic in 1954/55. This is true of the three Western powers as well
as of all the other Allies. The Alliance is not an obstacle to German
unity, any more than it is to European integration. It helped to bring
more democracy and freedom. It seeks to overcome the division of Germany
and Europe. It is promoting reform in the East.
The continued existence of NATO and progress towards German unity are
perfectly compatible. Indeed I would say they were mutually dependent.
Now I hear sometimes that it is not realistic to assume that a reunified
Germany could exist in the Atlantic Alliance. I would confront these voices
with the insight drawn from our historic experience : To make the dissolution
of the Alliance a sine qua non of German unity would deprive both Germany
and Europe of a basic force for stability. Only firm anchoring in the
West can provide the fundamental stability for the difficult process in
which we are engaged.
A drifting, neutral Germany cannot be a solution, given the country's
geostrategic position and its political, economic and military potential,
and this is the view of all the Allies. It would not even be in the enlightened
self-interest of the Soviets. The history of the last two centuries demonstrates
Thus there is no acceptable alternative to Germany remaining anchored
in the Atlantic Alliance - and belonging to the European Community. Please
understand that it would be a mistake to consider the German question
in terms of a dynamically unfolding future while, at the same tune, viewing
the role and function of the Atlantic Alliance as merely static. The latter
is another part of the same series of rapid, interdependent developments.
The Soviet Union is adapting to this movement towards German unity. Foreign
Minister Shevardnadze's speech in Brussels and General Secretary Gorbachev's
latest pronouncements show this. Soviet security interests and their definition
have changed dramatically in the past four years. The Soviets' forward
deployment in Europe since 1945 sprang partly from an expansionist drive
for world power, but also from deep-seated need for security. That need
has lost its justification with the now unequivocal recognition that there
is no threat from the West.
As a result, the Soviet perception of their security has changed. They
no longer need a Western glacis. The Soviet Union will have to accept
- and is probably already on the way to doing so - that its security will
be enhanced rather the impaired by the loss of its Central and East European
buffer zone. New, stable structures and increased prosperity as well asnewand
closer forms of international co-operation in Central and Western Europe
will above all benefit Soviet reform process.
The Soviet Union's security interests - in stability, freedom from threat
and co-operation along the borders of the Soviet state - will be better
served in the long term by the intensification of the disarmament process
and the further reduction of military forces, by taking advantage of the
Alliance as a co-operative partner in the management of peace, and by
the extension of the CSCE system and the resulting reduction of confrontation.
In addition, special arrangements could be devised to take account of
Soviet security interests with a united Germany as a member of the Atlantic
A component of such an arrangement could be a special military status
for the territory of the GDR, or perhaps an agreement not to extend military
integration to that territory. These are just two possibilities out of
many which could be conceived. German unity and membership of the Atlantic
Alliance are perfectly compatible within a security architecture which
would preserve European stability in the interest of the Soviet Union
as well as of other states.
The members of the Alliance must as a matter of urgency incorporate such
considerations into a common concept for progress towards German unity.
The important sign is that the European Community, the Atlantic Alli-ance
and the CSCE should be developed as a framework for German and European
unity. Omission of any of these structural elements would disrupt the
balance which is so vital for the future of Germany and Europe. The Soviet
Union can be sure that we take their ideas seriously, and more we will
respect their legitimate security interests.