NATO / WARSAW PACT
The Hungarian Deputy Foreign Minister, Istvan Roska, is welcomed to the Kremlin as part of the delegation that will sign agreements to renew the Warsaw Treaty Organisation, commonly known in the West as the Warsaw Pact. He proposes that the alliance should turn back the Brezhnev Doctrine, the 1968 Soviet foreign policy statement which has provided the USSR with justification to interfere in the internal affairs of fellow communist states. Premier Gorbachev refers to other Soviet priorities, but agrees under pressure to the establishment of a comprehensive policy review committee on the twentieth anniversary of the doctrine’s introduction.
Secretary General Gorbachev and various allies attend a signing ceremony for a renewal of the Warsaw Pact, extending the alliance through until 2005. It is further agreed that the organisation will be disbanded at that time, with the Soviet leader expressing confidence that the Cold War with the Americans will be over within that time. Members are given continued access to Soviet defence, but military grants will be wound back and replaced by development grants.
A protest of eight thousand people gathers outside Rhein-Main Air Base, located on the south side of Frankfurt International Airport. They are demanding that the base be closed. Most of the organisers are from France and West Germany, and some unknowingly taking money from the Soviet KGB, who regard this protest as a propaganda strike against NATO’s principal air transport terminal. As a result of the protest, the United States will decide that the site is too open to attack and will move most of the facilities to Ramstein Air Base by the end of 1988.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze announces the establishment of a multinational policy review committee, to report in May, 1988, on potential reforms to the Warsaw Treaty Organisation.
The Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation nations meets in Sofia, Bulgaria. It issues a declaration stating that the United States is aggravating the arms race and announcing that the Warsaw Pact troop numbers would be reduced to parity over the next five years as a step towards encouraging the United States to seek peace.
Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev proposes an exchange of observers between the Western European Union and the Warsaw Pact Organisation. The offer will be accepted eight days later.
Spain votes in a referendum on its continued participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. In startlingly high participation rates driven by continued high spend of the peace movement, the electorate votes to reject the compromise of Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez Marquez and to relinquish its formal membership of NATO. Spain will, however, remain an observer. NATO Secretary-General Lord Carrington calls this “a grave weakening of the alliance”. US President Ronald Reagan states that thousands of troops based on Spanish soil will be wound down and bases transferred to Spanish hands, but the tenure of operations will be the result of talks between the USA and Spain.
Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev arrives in East Germany as a visitor to the XIth Party Congress. His discomfort with other older East European leaders, such as East German President Erich Honecker and Czechoslovakian President Gustav Husak, is clear. Gorbachev privately calls on the older generation to step aside and to make room for the next generation of “great socialist leaders and guides”, and praises the efforts by some to make “wise reforms”. However, he suggests that the energies required for the task are those of young men. Names given as possible successors include Chudomir Alexandrov (49, Bulgaria); Ion Iliescu (56, Romania); Egon Krenz (48, East Germany), though the leader of Poland, Wojciech Jaruzelski is not one of those called upon to make way.
Well organised protests erupt across Western European capitals and around US military bases in Europe. These protests demand the end of NATO, peace with the Soviet Union and a demand that US President Ronald Reagan be tried for murder at an international criminal tribunal. French President Laurent Fabius holds a joint press conference with Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris, supposedly aimed at Christian-Muslim reconciliation. During this, he states that France does not support American actions as “France has never been an American orderly”. Former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing criticises the President for abusing the Cardinal by “using the Church as a stage prop”.
West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl comes under fierce attack from the Social Democrats and the Greens over West German’s continued participation in NATO. The attack on Libya and the continued US presence in the Mediterranean have become, for many West Germans, the final deal-breaker and the opposition wish to withdraw their troops from a unified command and remove nuclear weapons from German soil. Recognising the infrastructure already in place, SDP leader Johannes Rau states that US bases will, if he is elected Chancellor in 1987, all be shut down by 2005. Kohl has recently been caught up in controversy about an essay published by one of his advisors. The essay stated that Germans had no history of which to be proud.
An anti-NATO protest in Hamburg reaches ten thousand attendees and leads Chancellor of West Germany, Helmut Kohl, to announce that US nuclear weapons currently being removed will not be replaced.
Janos Kadar, General Secretary of Hungary, is requested to take over as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). He is charged with the task of “enlargement”, including the invitation to the Peoples Republic of China to return as an observer, and developing programs for full membership for Nicaragua, Angola, Mozambique, Ethiopia, South Yemen and Laos to become full members. There will also be an “open door” policy towards Yugoslavia. Kadar will retain his position as General Secretary. The move is also seen as a Moscow endorsement of “goulash Communism” and openness to Western social democratic parties.
New regulations by Comintern express their new policy in relation to Solidarity. Solidarity would be recognised as an official trade union. All official trade union members were required immediately to join the Polish Workers Party; members under fifteen are to be barred. Janos Kadar also outlines a range of entitlements that must be the minimum worker income in the COMECON countries, discrimination by current workers against potential new enterprise members is banned, equal pay for equal work is upheld for women and prison labour was no longer permitted to be used by any country doing business with, or operating within, COMECON. All members are given until January, 1988 to have their economic houses in order.
French Premier Simone Veil proposes a new security agreement, stating that such an organisation would complement rather than replace NATO. British Prime Minister Nigel Lawson states that such a plan is “superfluous” and that he suspects that things in Washington will “soon return to normal”. It adds to the pressure on Premier Veil, who has recently been unable to generate sufficient support for her educational reforms.
A new popular joke throughout the Warsaw Pact is that troops from Hungary and Czechoslovakia are about to invade the USSR to crush the threat to Communism posed by the radical Gorbachev regime. It is told to Gorbachev during a meeting today with Premier Lubomir Strougal of Czechoslovakia, who uses the subject matter to turn attention to the “minimal decentralisation of Bulgaria and Romania” and the fact that they are “falling behind” in education and technology.
Soviet President Andrei Gromyko announces the decision to place the Brezhnev Doctrine under review, the result of ten months of opening trade through East Germany and visits by many Eastern tourists to West Berlin for the first time in a generation. A special commission is established to investigate the implications of such changes across the region and to report back within twelve months.
The American Enterprise Institute warns that the future of NATO is under threat. It points to withdrawal by France and Spain, the increasing neutrality of Germany and Italy and the lack of cooperation by Greece. It also suggests that with Pakistan, the Philippines and Turkey are reviewing current basing arrangements and that the US should redevelop their foreign doctrine to extend power with limited bases.
The Warsaw Pact Multinational Review Committee reports to the organisation. It reports that with West Germany and France out of NATO, Italy considering its status and Spain having refused membership, the role of NATO as a threat to the east has significantly diminished and thus the reasoning behind the foundation of the pact has also significantly weakened. It also reports that other members are resentful of their obligations to Romania. Its recommendations include 1) effective from the date of West Germany’s withdrawal from NATO (11 November), the Warsaw Pact Treaty should come to an end; 2) negotiations should be undertaken with the Western European Union on behalf of those members who are interested to arrange their admission to the WEU as an alternate organisation, namely Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland and 3) that the WEU would no longer have a name which represents its membership under such an arrangement and should make amendments to the treaty to change its name to the European Defence Organisation.
Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary all declare their intent to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact, signalling that the organisation, founded in 1955, is in its final days. With only Bulgaria and the Soviet Commonwealth yet to declare their intent, it is confirmed that the mutual defence pact will come to an end in a little over three months. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev states the conviction that the leaders of the three states remain “great friends of the Commonwealth” and “fraternal partners in this complicated stage of our mutual history”.
NATO announces the closure of the Norvenich Air Base in Germany as part of their commitment by both the USA and the Soviets to end military involvement in the newly unified Germany. Most of the forces are transferred to RAF Bentwaters, Suffolk, as part of Britain’s commitment to support the withdrawal.
US President George Bush expresses a desire to reform the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in order to create a continental security framework. He argues that both NATO and the European Union defence pact only cover parts of the continent and that neither involves the Soviet Commonwealth which, he believes, needs to be encouraged into such a framework.
The Prime Minister of Denmark, Svend Auken, announces that his Cabinet has decided to refuse access to US nuclear ships. As was the case with New Zealand five years ago, the US Navy refuses to confirm or deny nuclear status on their vessels. Auken warns that this will mean US pressure over the continuing membership of Denmark in NATO, but expresses a hope that it will not mean an end to their partnership in the treaty.
US Secretary of State James Baker arrives in Copenhagen to meet with Prime Minister Svend Auken over the nuclear issue. He warns that the NATO partnership has developed “deep weaknesses”, and that the members need to be “prudent, realistic and reserved” in considering their defence situation, warning they “should not go overboard” in believing the end of the Warsaw Pact leaves them completely secure.
Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov and his Polish counterpart, Lech Walesa, meet to discuss his proposal for a customs union through the reform of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Walesa announces that he will immediately form a committee, to report before year’s end, on the steps necessary to achieve such an agreement and in preparation for negotiations, with an aim to complete an agreement within two years.
German Chancellor Helmut Kohl tells US Secretary of State James Baker that he wants missiles for the Lancer aircraft, still on German soil, and other NATO forces and weapons completely out of the country within two years. Baker suggests that the ownership of US technology might be passed to Great Britain, and thus retained in Germany as European Union weapons, rather than NATO weapons, but still be made available to the United States.
NATO Secretary General Amedeo de Franchis states that the loss of its main adversary, as well as the departure of France and Germany, requires a strategic re-evaluation of the purpose of the pact. He rules out any expansion of the pact into Eastern Europe, stating that, while the reforming states are eligible to join EUDO, a formal commitment has been given to President Gorbachev that NATO will not admit them.
NATO celebrates its 40th anniversary in Brussels, slightly reduced in size over the past decade. It has lost Germany, Denmark and France and been rejected by Spain. It now consists of Belgium, Britain, Canada, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Turkey and the United States. Secretary General Amedeo de Franchis oversees the occasion.
Dutch opposition leader Wim Kok states that his party remains “completely loyal” to a continuation of the NATO alliance after media speculation questions Labour support for the treaty. He accuses Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers of a “smear campaign” designed to undercut support for the opposition as rumours abound that Lubbers will call an early election upon his return from Paris.