GHDI logo

U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush’s Conditions for Unification (December 4, 1989)

Elated by the impending collapse of communism in Europe, U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush speaks to NATO leaders in Brussels. He expresses firm support for German unification, but specifies that the process should be open-ended and peaceful, that Germany should remain anchored in the Western Alliance, and that all other existing borders should be respected.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 4

Outline of Remarks at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Headquarters in Brussels
December 4th, 1989

[ . . . ]

The task before us is to consolidate the fruits of this peaceful revolution and provide the architecture for continued peaceful change. Great choices are being made, and greater opportunities beckon.

The First Principle for Europe's Future: Overcoming the Division of Europe through Freedom

In any time of great change, it is good to have firm principles to guide our way. Our governments committed themselves again in May to seek an end to the painful division of Europe. We have never accepted this division. The people of every nation have the right to determine their own way of life in freedom.

Of course, we have all supported German reunification for four decades. And in our view, this goal of German unification should be based on the following principles.

First, self-determination must be pursued without prejudice to its outcome. We should not at this time endorse nor exclude any particular vision of unity. Second, unification should occur in the context of Germany's continued commitment to NATO and an increasingly integrated European Community, and with due regard for the legal role and responsibilities of the allied powers. Third, in the interests of general European stability, moves toward unification must be peaceful, gradual, and part of a step-by-step process. Lastly, on the question of borders, we should reiterate our support for the principles of the Helsinki Final Act.

An end to the unnatural division of Europe and of Germany must proceed in accordance with and be based upon the values that are becoming universal ideals, as all the countries of Europe become part of a commonwealth of free nations. I know my friend Helmut Kohl completely shares this conviction.

first page < previous   |   next > last page