February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Der Spiegel uncovers archival document promising NATO non-expansion

According to documents discovered by the German publication Der Spiegel, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg either simply lied or did not know about the promises not to expand the military bloc to the east after the reunification of Germany.

The German publication Der Spiegel reported the discovery of an archival document, which, as the article says, reinforces the version of the Russian authorities that when Germany was unified, the Soviet Union was promised that NATO would not expand to the east.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow was “swindled, blatantly deceived” by Western countries, who promised that the North Atlantic Alliance would not expand “not an inch to the east.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, however, argued that no one had made such promises to the Soviet Union.

Now it remains to ask Mr. Stoltenberg a question – did you really not know (which is hard to believe) or deliberately lied? I wonder how he will get out?

The document, as clarified Der Spiegel, was discovered in the British National Archives by the American political scientist, Boston University professor Joshua Shifrinson. Previously, the document was classified as “Secret”, but then was declassified.

This was the minutes of the meeting of the political directors of the foreign ministries of England, France and Germany, held on March 6, 1991 in Bonn. And the topic was security in Central and Eastern Europe.

By this time, the Warsaw Pact was no longer what it used to be, and the politicians of the social bloc countries signaled to Western states about their desire to join NATO. At the same time, as Der Spieger notes, it is clear from the document that it was clear to the British, Americans, Germans and French that Eastern European membership in NATO was “unacceptable”.

According to the note, the political director of the German Foreign Ministry, Jurgen Hrobog, argued this as follows: “We made it clear at the 2 plus 4 negotiations that we are not expanding NATO beyond the Elbe. Therefore, we cannot offer Poland and others membership in NATO.” According to Jurgen Hrobog, this position was agreed upon with Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.

U.S. Representative Raymond Seitz, the document says, agreed: “We made it clear to the Soviet Union — in the 2 plus 4 talks, as well as in other negotiations — that we do not intend to benefit from the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Eastern Europe … NATO does not should expand to the east neither formally nor informally.

The meeting participants agreed to strengthen the stability and security of Central and Eastern Europe through bilateral agreements with the countries of the region and within the framework of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly emphasized that during the negotiations on the unification of Germany, the Soviet Union was promised that NATO would not expand. In particular, he said this during a big press conference in December 2021: “Not a single inch to the east,” we were told in the 90s. So what? They cheated. They just brazenly deceived me: five waves of NATO expansion, and now, please, in Romania, now corresponding systems are appearing in Poland.”

According to him, Russia has repeatedly objected to the expansion of NATO to the East, referring to the relevant promises of Western countries. “And they tell us: “Where is it written on a piece of paper? There is not? Well, that’s all, you go away, we didn’t care about your concerns.” And so from year to year. Each time we snapped, tried to prevent something, expressed concerns. No – you go with your concerns, we will do what we think is necessary, ”the Russian president said.

Reacting to these words, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg then said that the North Atlantic Alliance “never promised not to expand.” In an interview with the same Der Spiegel, he stated that “there has never been such a promise, there has never been such a behind-the-scenes deal, it is simply not true.”

As stated in today’s article of the publication, the published document casts doubt on the statements of Jens Stoltenberg and those who claimed that no promises regarding NATO were made to Moscow.

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