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NATO Statement of the Future of East-West Relations


On December 3, 1989, following the summit meeting in Malta between US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, in which the leaders attested to an historic shift in US-Soviet relations, Bush traveled to Brussels to report on the meeting to a special summit of NATO leaders. The next day, Bush delivered a speech in which he discussed the issue of German reunification. Since the Berlin Wall had fallen on November 9, West Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Kohl had issued a 10-point reunification plan, while England, France, and the Soviet Union cautioned against reunification. Bush laid out a four-point policy stipulating that the US would back reunification if it was decided by voting in both Germanys; if it was initiated gradually; if Germany remained in NATO; and if border changes complied with the principles of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, a condition that would prevent a united Germany from claiming territories it had lost due to World War II. Bush’s stated principles were adopted by NATO as a whole when they were incorporated into the following communiqué issued following a NATO meeting later in the month. The communiqué included language and proposals expressed by Secretary of State James Baker in a speech he gave in West Berlin two days earlier, calling for NATO to design “a new architecture” to adapt to a “new Europe, whole and free.” In addition, the communiqué reflected French and Soviet calls for a 1990 summit meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), whose 35 member nations represented NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and neutral countries. A few days after the issuance of the communiqué, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze indicated that his government was giving “careful and scrupulous study” to the document. The US soon changed its policy, however, believing that East Germany would not be able to function for long as an independent nation.

General Secretary Manfred Wörner, "NATO Statement of the Future of East-West Relations," Making the History of 1989, Item #49


Manfred Wörner, "Final Communiqué, 14 December 1989," speech, Brussels, Belgium, 1989, NATO, Online Library, NATO (accessed April 3, 2008).

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NATO Statement of the Future of East-West Relations in World History Commons,