Updated: 12-Mar-2001 NATO Speeches

5 July 1990

Opening Statement to the NATO Summit Meeting

Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner

The Cold War belongs to history. Our Alliance is moving from confrontation to cooperation. We are building a new Europe, a Europe drawn together by the unfettered aspiration for freedom, democracy and prosperity. Never before has Europe had such a tangible opportunity to overcome the cycle of war and peace that has so bedevilled its past.

We have a clear vision of Europe's future. We set it out in our 40th Anniversary Summit Declaration just one year ago. Now at our meeting today we must chart the further course towards the realization of that vision of a Europe whole and free. Our objective is not only the preservation of peace but the building of peace.

In the past few weeks a series of ministerial meetings have drawn up the basis for this Alliance's contribution to the new Europe. Already we are responding to change with change and with initiative. We are adapting our Alliance, reaching out to all who wish to build the same Europe as we do. Today we will renew our offer of cooperation and give it concrete form. We look at the Soviet Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as potential partners and friends. A policy of cooperation is the logical extension of our Harmel Doctrine. The Alliance is now realizing its full potential as a framework of stability and an instigator of peaceful change.

Europe is not yet immune from future risk or danger. This Alliance, which has contributed so much to overcoming Europe's painful division, must play its full part alongside other Western institutions in extending the stability and security we enjoy to all European nations. NATO's impact will be critical in four areas:

First in clearing away the legacy of the Cold War years by concluding a CFE agreement and continuing the process of arms control. We must bring the military situation rapidly into line with the new political realities of Europe.

Second in helping to erect a new European architecture that binds all our nations together. The Alliance will play a central role, as this meeting shows. We will set out our concrete proposals for giving the CSCE a more prominent role as the genesis of this new order.

Third in continuing to press for a settlement of the external aspects of German unity satisfactory to all the parties concerned. Full German membership of our Alliance - and it alone - offers stability to a Europe in transition.

Fourth, and finally, our Alliance will continue to prevent war, a task that is no less relevant simply because the most direct threat to peace on our continent has now receded. There are many potential instabilities, both within and without Europe, that we must plan for prudently today if we are not to be their victim tomorrow.

Our Alliance cannot be successful in its new tasks if it fails to fulfil the oldest and most fundamental one: the preservation of peace. We must retain a secure defence. It is not an obstacle to change but the very precondition for change, and our weapons never were, and never will be, a threat to anyone.

Neither North America nor Europe can be secure and successful unless they stay together. Now that Europe is stronger and more integrated it can provide for an even closer and more successful transatlantic partnership by assuming its share of global responsibilities. United there is no challenge this Alliance cannot meet.

Finally, allow me on behalf of all Allies to express our appreciation for the hospitality and warm welcome that Her Majesty's Government, under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has extended to us here in London.

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