A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 152: Memorandum of Eppelmann–Iazov
Conversation, April 29, 1990

One of many striking signs of how much had changed in Eastern Europe by early 1990 was the fact that the first non-communist defense minister to be appointed in the GDR, Rainer Eppelmann, was a Protestant minister and a pacifist. Here he discusses the future of East Germany's army with his staunchly communist Soviet counterpart, Dmitrii Iazov. Eppelmann hopes that Germany can serve as a bridge between the two alliances, and expects, among other things, that Soviet forces will remain in the GDR, with West Germany taking over their financial support. Iazov remarks that maintaining two German armies in one Germany is unrealistic, and opposes Eduard Shevardnadze's idea that a united Germany should be a member of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact. He also assumes, as did many observers, that German unification would take at least five years. In fact it was accomplished just seven months after this meeting.

"…"

At the beginning, Minister "for Disarmament and Defense Rainer" Eppelmann expressed his opinion that it was the courageous and far-sighted policy of the Soviet Union, especially by General Secretary Gorbachev, which facilitated the current developments in the GDR and in Germany as a whole. The unification process of the two countries is currently occurring faster than the establishment of a collective security structure. However, this process cannot be stopped anymore without millions of citizens leaving the country "GDR". Therefore immediate solutions acceptable to the Soviet Union, the United States, the other countries, and the Germans are needed. This is why we currently consider a policy of integrating a unified Germany into NATO as realistic. But we demand that there be no extension of NATO beyond the Elbe river, that no NATO troops be stationed on GDR territory, and that there be no unification according to Article 23 "of the German Basic Law" unless the structure and strategies of NATO have previously been revised.

The NVA "East German National People's Army" will be heavily reduced after Vienna I,34 but maintain its independent leadership. And the NVA is not supposed to receive NATO weaponry. As long as NATO and the Warsaw Treaty exist, there will also be two German armies. The GDR abides by the treaties it has entered into.

However, the situation demands a change in economic and military relations. All these issues have to be dealt with by agreement. Security encompassing both alliances must be achieved. The unification process in Germany has to take into account the legitimate security interests of all European countries, especially the Soviet Union.

34 The conclusion of the first stage of the CFE negotiations on reductions of conventional forces.

-670-

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