TURNBERRY, SCOTLAND, JUNE 8 -- The foreign ministers of NATO today officially declared an end to Cold War hostilities with the Soviet Union and its former satellites by extending "the hand of friendship and cooperation" across the former East-West divide.
In a communique that was long on goodwill and peaceful sentiment but short on specific changes in NATO's Cold War-oriented strategic doctrine, ministers of the 16-member alliance expressed their "determination to seize the historic opportunities resulting from the profound changes in Europe to help build a new peaceful order . . . based on freedom, justice and democracy."
"We are changing, and we will continue to change," NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner told reporters after the wrap-up of the two-day meeting here. Its main purpose was to begin altering the alliance's image as a vestige of an era of East-West confrontation that has suddenly been rendered obsolete by the dizzying upheavals in the Soviet Bloc.
"Our alliance is no threat to anybody," Woerner added. "We do not see ourselves as a bloc in a confrontational system. We are moving beyond confrontation to become a partner in the new European peace order."
The communique even had some words of praise for NATO's former nemesis, the Warsaw Pact. NATO welcomed as conveying a "positive spirit" and readiness for "constructive cooperation" a Warsaw Pact statement Thursday in Moscow calling for a transformation of the pact into a democratic group of independent states.
But Woerner and U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III told reporters that NATO was not yet prepared to consider some kind of friendship or non-aggression treaty between the two alliances, as broadly suggested by Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last weekend, until it had received a specific proposal.
Much of today's communique dwelt on issues that the NATO ministers believe are important for easing the fears of the Soviet Union that it could be isolated and weakened militarily by the pending reunification of Germany and the final collapse of the Soviets' 45-year-old network of imposed dependency in Eastern Europe. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev not only has expressed opposition to a unified Germany's membership in NATO, he has questioned the future role of the alliance.
The ministers endorsed the nine-point set of "assurances" that Baker first presented to the Soviets at the Bush-Gorbachev summit in Washington last week. Chief among them was a pledge to institutionalize and strengthen the authority of the 35-member Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), to which both the Soviets and the Eastern European states belong. But the statement also made clear that CSCE's powers and functions would remain "complementary" to those of NATO -- a clear attempt to scotch any Soviet hope that the conference might eventually eclipse the Atlantic Alliance.
Similarly, the communique stated that the ministers had instructed NATO's negotiators at the Conventional Forces in Europe talks in Vienna to pursue "new approaches" to break the logjam regarding airplanes, armor and verification of troop and arms reductions. It called for quicker progress in obtaining a CFE agreement this year, to be followed by negotiations with the Soviet Union on reducing short-range nuclear forces. But Baker and Woerner refused to divulge any details.
Both officials said they believed the Soviets would eventually accept German membership in NATO. Baker spoke of "a sense at least of movement . . . a genuinely more positive feeling" following his meetings with Shevardnadze in Copenhagen earlier this week. But despite the talk of peace and cooperation, the statement also committed the alliance to maintaining "an appropriate mix of survivable and effective conventional and nuclear forces . . . including the presence of significant North American conventional and nuclear forces in Europe."
The statement noted that NATO was conducting a strategic review that pressumably is reexamining a host of Cold War military concepts.