NATO celebrates German Reunification
On 3 October 1990, the constitution of West Germany was extended to cover the five states of East Germany, reunifying Germany as a single country under one law. Congratulations were extended to the new country from around the world, including from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which could celebrate the reunification as one of its own achievements. NATO was a military alliance to contain Communist expansion. The reunification of Germany both ended the Cold War division of this European country, and provided a new path toward integrating East and West Europe as a whole. As the Secretary General of NATO points out in the following speech, this victory was achieved through peaceful means, not violence, a hopeful sign for the future reintegration of all of Europe as one community.
Address to the North Atlantic Council on the occasion of German Unification
Speech by Secretary General, Manfred Wörner
Today, the 3rd of October 1990, is a decisive landmark in the history of our Alliance.
This is a day of undiminished rejoicing, not only for the Germans, but for the whole of
our Alliance. We have reached one of the most important and longstanding objectives of
The German people have exercised at long last their right of self-determination. Germany
has overcome its painful, unnatural division. Thus a vital step has been taken to overcome
the division of Europe. Without our Alliance this would not have been possible. Over
twenty years ago our Harmel Report stated that German unity could never be for this
Alliance a purely national question. No permanent peace, no new European order of
freedom, democracy and prosperity could be built around a divided Germany, or in
opposition to the wishes of the Germans themselves to live within a single nation. Today
we put nearly half a century of confrontation and frustration behind us. Our policy of
secure defence and the active pursuit of detente has proved the recipe for peaceful
change. With German unity finally realised, the way is clear for this Alliance to achieve
its ultimate objective: a lasting order of peace, freedom and justice in Europe.
Less than a year has passed since that night of celebration when the Berlin Wall came
down. In that time we have all been witnesses of the historic process of a divided nation
growing together again. This unique task of merging two incompatible political and
social systems has demanded an unparalleled effort. Yet by their imagination, courage
and determination, the German authorities, loyally supported by their partners in the
Alliance and in the European Community, have created the climate of confidence needed
And there have been the external aspects of German unification. This process again was a
unique task in history. It had to lay the groundwork in the centre of Europe for the new
European order we are building in the CSCE process, based on the supporting pillars of
the European Community and the Atlantic Alliance.
The same imagination and boldness displayed by the Federal German authorities in
working out the internal modalities of German unity were displayed also by the US, UK
and French Authorities in close consultation with all other Allies. And again our Alliance
stood the test of solidarity and cohesion. Strong reservations and even opposition in the
Soviet Union based on decades of fear and distrust had to be overcome. Our Alliance has
met this challenge, standing firmly together. Our London Summit showed that the new
Germany would be part of a new, transformed Alliance; an Alliance that desired
cooperation not confrontation, and which extended the hand of friendship to the Soviet
Union and to all the other nations of Central and Eastern Europe. Thus again our Alliance
contributed decisively to the final lifting of Soviet objections to the full NATO
membership of a united Germany. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution and
consent of the Soviet leadership and people.
We now include the whole of Germany in our Alliance as we reassess our strategy and
our force posture. I do not doubt that we will rapidly succeed in this endeavour.
The unification of Germany in conditions of peace, freedom and prosperity is a
vindication of our perseverance; and also of our values which have proved infinitely
more powerful than military force, ideology and repression. Those universal values are
the forces that drive history and move human progress. In the decades since its
foundation, our Alliance has been a decisive factor in the resurrection of a democratic
Germany after the war up to the final achievement of regaining its unity. The Alliance
has provided the framework of security in which the ruined, impoverished Federal
Republic of the immediate post-war years could rebuild its democracy and anchor itself
irrevocably in the West.
On behalf of our Atlantic Alliance, I congratulate the German nation on the achievement
of its unity. I salute and welcome the united Germany as a loyal member of our Alliance
and an active partner in the building of a Europe whole and free.
All our best wishes accompany you.
Manfred Wörner. "Address to the North Atlantic Council on the occasion of German Unification," speech, Brussels, Belgium, October 3, 1990. NATO, Online Library, NATO (accessed September 7, 2006).