HC Deb 29 May 1970 vol 801 cc600-3W
Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting on 21st May and in particular concerning the discussion of an East-West European Security Conference.

Mr. M. Stewart:

We have had a very significant meeting of the North Atlantic Council and have defined in our communiqué, and in a Declaration on Mutual and Balance Force Reductions, practical steps for negotiation between East and West in Europe. The following are the communiqué and declaration:


  1. The North Atlantic Council, meeting in Ministerial session in Rome on 26th and 27th May, 1970. reaffirmed that the Alliance remains indispensable to the security of its members and makes possible their common search for progress towards a more stable relationship between East and West in which outstanding issues dividing Europe can be resolved.
  2. 2. Ministers again stated their determination to resolve these problems through a process of negotiation. They recognised that, for their part, this search for peace must rest upon a spirit of genuine partnership, the maintenance of the defensive strength of the Alliance and the practice of full and timely consultation.
  3. 3. Ministers agreed that it will not be enough to talk of European security in the abstract. The causes of insecurity in Europe are specific, they are deeply rooted in conflicting perceptions of state interests, and their elimination will require patient endeavour. However, the Allies, for their part, remain willing to negotiate, in any suitable forum, those concrete issues whose resolution would enhance the security of Europe. The success of efforts to pursue genuine relaxation of tension will be a test of the willingness of all interested countries to deal meaningfully with real issues of security.
  4. 4. Ministers affirmed that to endure, peace must rest upon universal respect of the sovereign equality, political independence and territorial integrity of each European state, regardless of its political or social system, and for the right of its peoples to shape their own destinies, free of the threat of external intervention, coercion or constraint.
  5. 5. Ministers, recalling their earlier statements on the subject, examined and approved a report on the situation in the Mediterranean, prepared by the Council in Permanent Session 601 which they had requested in their meeting of December 1969. Having regard to the conclusions presented in this report, they found reason to reiterate their concern with regard to the situation in the area. They stressed again the importance of full and frequent consultation among the Allies on this question and the necessity for continued vigilance. They instructed the Council in Permanent Session to continue their close review of the developing situation in the Mediterranean and to report fully thereon to Ministers.
  6. 6. At their April, 1969 meeting in Washington, Ministers agreed to explore with the Soviet Union and the other countries of Eastern Europe which concrete issues best lend themselves to fruitful negotiations in order to reduce tension and promote co-operation in Europe and to take constructive actions to this end. The Council thereafter conducted a detailed study of those issues, and at their meeting in December 1969, Ministers declared that Allied Governments would continue and intensify their contacts, discussions of negotiations through all appropriate channels, bilateral or multilateral, and that they remained receptive to signs of willingness on the part of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries to engage in such discussions. Progress, they said, in these discussions and negotiations would help to ensure the success of any eventual conference, in which of course, the North American members of the Alliance would participate, to discuss and negotiate substantial problems of co-operation and security in Europe.
  7. 7. Ministers expressed satisfaction over the launching or continuation of the whole range of talks and negotiations, initiated by members of the Alliance, which they have been actively promoting during the six months since December 1969. At the same time numerous other East-West contacts have been pursued. The Allies have consulted and will continue to consult closely on all these initiatives and contacts.
  8. 8. With the support and understanding of its Allies, the Federal Republic of Germany has initiated talks with the Soviet Union, Poland and the G.D.R. in order to improve the situation in Central Europe. The Allies consider this to be encouraging. They express the hope that these talks will yield results and will not be compromised by the presentation of unacceptable demands. The efforts being made to solve outstanding problems and to achieve a modus vivendi in Germany which would take account of the special features of the German situation, represent an important contribution to security and co-operation in Europe. The Ministers express the hope that all Governments desiring to contribute to a policy of relaxation of tension in Europe will, to the extent possible, facilitate a negotiated settlement of the relationship between the two parts of Germany and the development of communications between the populations.
  9. 9. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that the Four Powers, in the framework of their rights and responsibilities for Berlin and Germany as a whole, began discussions on 26th 602 March about improving the situation with regard to Berlin and free access to the city. They express the hope that the difficulties which exist at this especially sensitive area of the East-West relationship could be overcome by practical measures and that Berlin would be enabled to make its full contribution to economic and cultural exchanges.
  10. 10. The conversations between the United States and the Soviet Union aiming at the limitation of strategic armaments, which began last November at Helsinki, have been continued at Vienna in April. Ministers welcome these talks, the outcome of which is so important for the security of Europe and the future of humanity.
  11. 11. On the occasion of the coming into force of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Ministers re-emphasised the importance they attach to limiting the spread of nuclear weapons as well as to measures for genuine nuclear disarmament. They noted with interest the efforts now under way to exclude mass destruction weapons from the sea bed and to deal with the problem of control of biological and chemical weapons. They expressed the hope that further progress on disarmament measures, with appropriate safeguards can reduce the arms burdens borne by all.
  12. 12. The members of the North Atlantic Alliance have, over a number of years. proclaimed their interest in arms control and disarmament measures which facilitate a gradual elimination of the military confrontation in Europe, Ministers recalled the Declarations issued at Reykjavik in 1968 and at Brussels in 1969. They noted that up to now these Declarations had led to no meaningful reply.
  13. 13. The Allies have nevertheless carried out intensive studies on mutual force reductions in accordance with directions given by Ministers in December, 1969. Ministers examined the detailed report presented to them by the North Atlantic Council in permanent session. This has been of great value in clarifying the complex issues involved. Ministers gave instructions for further relevant studies which would guide policies and explorations in this field.
  14. 14. Ministers, having examined all these developments, both positive and negative, and having taken note of the report on the procedures for negotiation which they had commissioned from the Permanent Council, stated that they were ready to multiply exploratory conversations with all interested parties on all questions affecting peace.
  15. 15. In so far as progress is recorded as a result of these talks and in the ongoing talks—in particular on Germany and Berlin—the Allied Governments state that they would be ready to enter into multilateral contacts with all interested Governments. One of the main purposes of such contacts would be to explore when it will be possible to convene a conference, or a series of conferences, on European security and co-operation. The establishment of a permanent body could be envisaged as one means, among others, of embarking upon multilateral negotiations in due course.
  16. 603
  17. 16. Among the subjects to be explored, affecting security and co-operation in Europe, are included in particular:
  18. (a) the principles which should govern relations between states, including the renunciation of force:
  19. (b) the development of international relations with a view to contributing to the freer movement of people, ideas and information and to the developing co-operation in the cultural, economic, technical and scientific fields as well as in the field of human environment.
  20. 17. In addition, Ministers representing countries participating in N.A.T.O.'s integrated defence programme attach particular importance to further exploration with other interested parties of the possibility of mutual and balanced force reductions and have therefore issued a Declaration on this subject.
  21. 18. As a first step, Ministers requested the Foreign Minister of Italy to transmit this Communiqué on their behalf through diplomatic channels to all other interested parties including neutral and non-aligned governments. They further agreed that member governments would seek reactions of other governments to the initiation of the comprehensive programme of exploration and negotiation which they envisage.
  22. 19. Ministers reviewed the first report from N.A.T.O.'s Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society and welcomed the progress made in the six months since the Committee was established as a demonstration of the value of Allied co-operation on the urgent problems of human environment. Intensive studies now in progress will contribute to national and international action on a broad range of environmental issues, including such pressing concerns as air and water pollution.
  23. 20. Ministers reaffirmed the view that the benefit of the Alliance's work in mankind's environment particularly could become a basis for broader co-operation between East and West in this field of ever-increasing importance. They considered that this could be ensured either through existing international organisations providing a useful framework for enhanced co-operation or by any other appropriate method.
  24. 21. The next Ministerial Session of the North Atlantic Council will be held in Brussels in December, 1970.