WHEN NATO leaders meet for a key summit in London this week, they
will try to accomplish two formidable tasks.
The first and highest priority is to convince the Soviet Union
that the Western alliance is moving from an era of confrontation
with the East to one of cooperation - and that a united Germany in
NATO, therefore, is no security risk for Moscow.
"It is essential that we provide them (the Soviets) with a
strong, definite statement," says a senior diplomat at North
Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters. "We must create an
environment in which they can accept the unification of Germany and
Germany's membership in NATO."
The second task for the NATO leaders is to convince their own
public that the alliance still has a reason for being, even when the
traditional enemy, the Warsaw Pact, is on the verge of collapse.
The 16 NATO members hope the two-day summit, which begins
Thursday, can assuage Moscow's concerns through the following:
- A specific message for the Soviets. The summit "will give a
very clear, political signal that we do consider you (the Soviets
and members of the Warsaw Pact) as our partners - not as enemies or
adversaries anymore," said NATO Secretary General Manfred Worner in
an interview last week.
- Steps toward a new European security order. NATO will make
specific proposals to institutionalize the Conference on Security
and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), mostly known for human rights
advocacy, but also encompassing security and economic issues. This
35-nation group, including the Soviet Union and the United States,
has no permanent headquarters or staff.
"Our principle objective" at the summit, says a senior NATO
official, "is to make sure the Soviets aren't isolated." At a time
when Moscow would be giving up its say in Germany's future, it would
be gaining a stronger link to Europe through CSCE.
Arms control will be another key factor at the summit. This
includes the proposal to begin negotiations on short-range nuclear
missles in Europe as soon as the Conventional Forces in Europes
(CFE) treaty is signed. The NATO leaders are also expected to draft
a nonagression agreement available for signing by individual Warsaw
Almost all of these agenda items have been discussed
internationally for months. By bringing them together in a
high-profile summit, NATO hopes to create an image of itself as a
"To some extent, it's public relations, but the Soviets want to
see a signal," says Francois Heisbourg, director of the
International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
While Moscow is certainly the key audience for the summit, there
are others who will be listening. Eastern Europeans and "quite
rightly, our own public," says another senior NATO diplomat, "expect
us to give an updated, comprehensive policy presentation."
Alliance members hope the summit can produce a substantive
statement about the nature of NATO and its goals. …