Public Papers - 1991
Declaration on the Soviet Union by the Heads of State and Government Participating in the Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Rome
1. We, the Heads of State and Government of the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance, warmly welcome the historic events that are fundamentally transforming the Soviet Union as we have known it and the relationships among the republics. By their resolute and courageous stand against the illegal coup of 19th August, the men and women of the Soviet Union have affirmed their determination to build a new future based upon democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and economic liberty. The nations of the Atlantic Alliance pledge themselves to assist in this great endeavour. We are prepared to build our relationships with the Soviet Union and the republics on the basis of the following fundamental principles that have guided our own policies and practices for decades.
2. It is for the peoples of the Soviet Union to decide their future relationship through peaceful and democratic means. At the same time, we encourage them to progress towards a common ground of cooperation, both among themselves and with us. In this process, there is no place for threats, intimidation, coercion or violence. Authorities at all levels should respect international norms and international obligations, especially those embodied in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, and other CSCE documents. Consistent with these commitments, government must be based on democracy through free and fair elections, and on the rule of law. Inalienable human rights must be guaranteed, including full respect for the individual and protection of the rights of persons belonging to minorities.
3. In a period of dramatic political change, it is important also to the development of our relations that leaders of the Soviet Union and the republics implement policies that contribute to international peace and security. In this respect, it is critical that the Soviet Union and the republics take all necessary actions to ensure that international agreements signed by the USSR, especially the START Treaty, the CFE Treaty, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Biological Weapons Convention are respected, ratified, and implemented. We call upon all authorities to refrain from any steps that could lead to proliferation of nuclear weapons or other means of mass destruction. We therefore welcome the intention of the Soviet leadership to ensure the safe, responsible and reliable control of these weapons under a single authority. This matter affects the security interests of the entire Atlantic Alliance, as well as those of the international community as a whole. The Soviet and republic governments should adopt firm measures to prevent the export of nuclear or other potentially destabilising military technologies. We urge restraint in the development of conventional military forces that by their size and character could exacerbate political tensions, retard market economic reform, and contradict efforts toward lower and more stable levels of forces as embodied in the CFE Treaty. Because it reduces the dangers of instability and enhances openness, the CFE Treaty is in everyone's interest, including those of the Soviet Union and the republics.
4. The Allies are firmly convinced that political change should be accompanied by economic liberty and the building of market economies. We support the development of economic policies that promote trade and economic cooperation among republics in the interest of growth and stability. In this context, it is essential that all the republics assume their appropriate responsibilities vis-a-vis Soviet international obligations, which would facilitate integration of the Union and the republics into the world economy. Newly established links with the international financial institutions should facilitate rapid reform towards the development of a market economy as the basis for economic recovery and prosperity for the Union and the republics. The Allies stand ready to assit in this historic undertaking, including through technical assistance in key sectors. In addition, we are providing humanitarian support to the Soviet peoples as they cope with the political and economic crisis that confront them. We consider such assistance a vital contribution to the future security of Europe and of the world as a whole.
5. We hope that leaders and authorities at all levels throughout the Union and the republics will demonstrate their commitment to the values and principles we have reaffirmed in this statement.
6. The North Atlantic Council will continue to consult actively on developments in the Soviet Union, with a view to harmonising our approach towards unfolding events.
Note: The declaration was not issued as a White House Press release.