HC Deb 04 April 1990 vol 170 cc1189-91
9. Mr. Tredinnick

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications of the result of the East German elections for the NATO alliance.

Mr. Hurd


Hon. Members

Get on with it.

Mr. Speaker


Hon. Members

He is wasting time.

Mr. Hurd

I am sorry, but at least I have disentangled myself in silence, which is perhaps preferable to the alternative offered by the right hon. Member for Gorton.

NATO has long supported the cause for freedom in the German Democratic Republic and throughout eastern Europe. We welcome the democratic elections in the German Democratic Republic, because the establishment of a genuine democracy there will contribute to stability and security in Europe. We stress the crucial importance of continued German membership of NATO.

Mr. Tredinnick

Does my right hon. Friend agree that Chancellor Kohl's commitment to keeping West Germany within NATO is as important to West German security as to that of all western nations?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is great concern in the hosiery and shoe industries in my constituency in Leicestershire that the elections in East Germany and eastern Europe will herald a new flood of imports? Does my right hon. Friend further agree that to help British industry there must be strict regulations on imports from eastern Europe as a consequence of the democratic process there?

Mr. Hurd

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's first point. His second point is also correct. Under existing arrangements, the western border of the Federal Republic of Germany is policed and controlled to ensure that East German goods do not enter the Community unfairly, and that will continue.

Mr. Wareing

Has the Foreign Secretary seen a report in Stern magazine of a poll in West Germany in which a majority of West Germans said that they were opposed to any form of NATO forces across what is now the boundary with the German Democratic Republic, up to the Oder-Neisse line? Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to reassure not only the West German people but the Soviet Union that, regardless of whether Germany is in or out of NATO, Britain will not support NATO forces moving up to the Oder-Neisse line?

Mr. Hurd

It is extremely important for the security of us all that a united Germany should remain in NATO. However, there is a wide body of reasonable opinion that so far as the eastern part of a united Germany is concerned, there should not be stationed there NATO—that is to say, United States, British, French or Canadian —forces.

Mr. Wells

Does my right hon. Friend agree that if war, tension and instability in Europe are not to result from the unification of Germany and democratic elections in East Germany, it is essential for each nation to follow the path of negotiations on difficult issues, as in Lithuania? Will my right hon. Friend outline the careful and considered negotiations that he faces in the next two or three months?

Mr. Hurd

It would take a little time to do that. The two-plus-four negotiations, about which I gave evidence to the Select Committee this morning, are now beginning; the discussions in NATO are under way; the discussions in the European Community, for which there will be a special European Council on 28 April, are under way; and there are the discussions about the Polish borders, in the achieving of which we have played a prominent part. In all those ways, we now have what was clearly lacking a couple of months ago—a set of frameworks or discussions in which the external aspects of Germany unification can be taken on board and dealt with.