Warsaw Pact Is over as a Military Alliance PERSPECTIVES ON EASTERN EUROPE

Article excerpt

THE demise of the Warsaw Pact as a military force in international relations is probably the most momentous sequel to the East European revolution.

To all intents and purposes, the Pact became a spent force the moment Poland initiated the revolution last year. Now it is fact.

The break from the alliance's military past was made by its top governing body, the Consultative Council, in Moscow last week. It was the Council's first meeting in a year. Its composition was an ironic comment from the Soviet viewpoint on all that has happened in Eastern Europe and in East-West relations since then.

Formerly, the Council included heads of state, together with ruling Communist Party, government, and military chiefs and their foreign ministers. All, of course, were communists.

This meeting was a metamorphosis. For the first time in 35 years, the Soviets had to deal with six equals. In addition, the Soviets were virtually the only communists at the Council table: Mr. Gorbachev was the only party chief, and he and Poland's Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski were the only communist heads of state.

Romania and Bulgaria were represented by quasi-communists, though they presented reformist credentials. The other East Europeans were represented by noncommunists or anticommunists as diverse as Czechoslovakia's President Vaclav Havel and a pacifist East German defense minister.

After this meeting of the Warsaw Pact, its future - if any - must be said mostly to rest with NATO. Immediately after the event, the NATO foreign ministers went some way to offer a helping hand. They not only hailed the moves toward a "transformation" of the Pact. They also made tentative proposals for cooperation between the countries of both alliances in constructing a "new Europe."

In the broad sense, that is very consistent with Gorbachev's ideas. But his former allies showed they have their own views. Some - Hungary, for instance - are in a hurry to quit the alliance before 1992, the year of the West Europeans' single market. …


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