Two Plus Four Talks: Circumstances and Results

first_img AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] By Daily NK – 2014.09.13 2:46am Analysis & Opinion Overall, the Two Plus Four Talks werepivotal to German reunification. It was a formality put in place in order toreceive approval from the 4 nations, the United States, United Kingdom, France,and Soviet Union, which were victorious in World War II. According to the 1952General Treaty of Germany, the consent of all four of these nations was neededto for reunification. From May 5th,1990, the countries concerned, East and WestGermany, the United States, United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union etc. held fourrounds of conferences. The finalization of the Treaty on the Final Settle withRespect to Germany completed the outside proceedings on German reunification.Additionally, the conference addressed severalpoints crucial to the German reunification process: [1] acknowledgement of theOder-Neisse border [2] abandonment of chemical, biological, radiological [CBR]weapons manufacturing and a maximum limit of 370,000 military personnel [3]withdrawal of Soviet soldiers stationed in East Germany [4] the place ofUnified Germany in NATO. However, the fact that the Two Plus Four Talks wasless of a ‘reunification catalyst,’ and, more of an ‘aftermath facilitator’ resemblesthe role of the Six-Party Talks in the Korean situation.Background of the Two Plus Four TalksAfter Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s announcement of the 10-Point Plan for GermanUnity on November 28th, 1989, dialogue began in earnest in West Germany andabroad. The USSR became worried by this situation, and accordingly proposed aconference between the four countries to be held on December 11th, 1989. On thesurface, these discourses, which were based on East Germany’s CommunityTreaties, were the beginnings of reunification talks between East and WestGermany. However, the USSR’s true purpose in directly intervening in thereunification process was to pose delays and obstructions.However, Chancellor Kohl argued that it wasunacceptable for the four nations to make progress in reunification talks whileEast Germany was excluded. The United States was opposed to such talks as well.In particular, these talks could provide an opportunity for the Soviet Unionto: [1] restore its waning power [2] delay German reunification, in order to [3]emphasize denuclearization of Central Europe, and [4] argue that the presenceof Soviet soldiers in Germany were necessary to counteract the presence of USsoldiers in Germany.Yet, the US could not reject these talksoutright for the following reasons: [1] If the United States gave theimpression of disparaging the Soviet Union, Gorbachev’s reformation programme couldhave been threatened, [2] if a multilateral agreement could not be reached,West Germany and Soviet Union would take it upon themselves to discuss theGerman reunification issue, during which the Soviet Union would neutralize thereunification or negotiate for Germany’s exclusion from NATO, [3] in such abilateral discussion, NATO would be considered a hindrance to the process, [4]there was a good chance that France and Britain would also attend the talks inorder to boost their respective influences in German reunification, [5] for Gorbachevto invite the major powers of the Second World War to a German Peace Conferenceand manage the conference would be a challenging task, [6] the contemporarygeopolitical situation, in which the USSR was in a tight corner, wouldfacilitate the passing of motions to which the USSR was opposed. Moreover, WestGermany also felt that a pledge of security assurance for Europe, in case offuture Soviet aggression, was necessary after German reunification. Thesereasons necessitated an American response to the Soviet proposal.Peace Conference or CSCEHowever, there were several problems to thevarious proposals for talks such as the Peace Conference or the CSCE meetings. Theformat of the Peace Conference did not give Germany any say in deciding its ownfuture, but such power was given to some thirty countries, like Uruguay, whichhad no major role in the Second World War. Such an arrangement potentiallyallowed the participants to seek their own profits by agreeing to ask Germanyfor war reparations. The format of the CSCE had the advantage of respectingSoviet input, but reaching a consensus from the 35 participant countries wouldobviously be difficult. Moreover, the format of the CSCE gave countries such asthe Vatican or Lichtenstein the veto over German reunification.In the face of the Soviet proposal and theinadequacy of the existing international forums, the solution was found in theTwo Plus Four Talks. The Talks would [1] give the USSR an international forum tovent its frustrations, [2] be the best option of stopping the Soviet-proposedfour powers’ talks from taking place, [3] allow greater efficiency innegotiations due to its small scale, [4] be advantageous for Germanreunification because it would allow the two Germanys, instead of the fourmajor powers, to lead the negotiations, and [5] prevent any antagonistic actionfrom England and France, such as proposing a Peace Conference. For thesereasons, Secretary Baker, with the support of President Bush, pushed on withthe Talks despite the opposition from the National State Council.The Main Strategy of the USThe US decided that the 2+4 Talks would notbe a place for negotiations, but only a conference. Specifically, the USintended for the USSR to receive the impression that progress was being made,whereas, in actuality, no binding decisions would be made at the talks. TheTalks would be operated under these seven principles:[1] The CSCE’s stipulation on self-determinationmust be strictly followed. This meant that any talks on the future of Germanycould not take place in West and East Germanys’ absence.[2] In order to prevent the four majorpowers from derailing the reunification process, the notion that the fourpowers held any authority to influence Germany’s future had to be divested ofits power.[3] The format of the Talks would allow thetwo Germanys to lead the negotiations (2+4). A format in which the sixcountries all had equal stature (six-party talks), or one in which the fourmajor powers preceded the Germanys (4+2) would not be allowed.[4] Once the German reunification processwas indeed under way, resolutions on the Germanys’ foreign relation issuesshould be reached through bilateral negotiations between the two Germanys. Inorder to achieve such a result, the reunification process should be given asmuch support as possible, while delaying future 2+4 talks as much as possible.[5] In order to prevent giving theimpression that the West interfered in East German elections, the first 2+4Talks is to be held after the elections.[6]The CSCE summit should be delayed untilGerman reunification had taken place, so that the reunification is ratified bythe summit ex post facto.[7] The US Secretary of State Baker wouldpersonally visit Gorbachev in his trip to the USSR in February 1990, in orderto explain the 2+4 Talks to Gorbachev and ask for his cooperation.The Schedule of the Talks and ResultsThere were particular reasons for holding the Talks in certain places. Thefirst of the Talks were held in the West German capital of Bonn. The reasonthat the first and second talks were held respectively in West and East Germanywas to demonstrate that they were the foremost participants of the Talks. Thefirst talk was held in May 5th, after the East German elections had takenplace, in order to avoid accusations that the Talks were intended to interferein the elections. It was also to accommodate France and USSR that the third andfourth talks were held respectively in Paris and Moscow. Nonetheless, under theformat of the Two Plus Four Talks, the four countries participated only toratify the agreements that had been reached through the bilateral negotiationsbetween the two Germanys. The four countries did not contribute significantlyto the resolution of major issues.The first talks began on May 5th, 1990, inBonn. Secretary Baker stated that the Germany issue should be resolved by theGerman people; in contrast, the Soviet foreign minister Shevardnadze arguedagainst a unified Germany having any role in NATO, and also that the internaland external developments in German reunification need not progress at the sametime. Participants in this talk agreed on future talks, the participation ofPoland in the Paris talks to be held in July, the recognition of Germanself-determination, and the recognition of Oder-Neisse Border line. However, noagreement was reached on unified Germany’s participation in NATO.The second talks began on June 22nd in East Berlin. The main consensus reachedat this talk was that a draft of the Two Plus Four Treaty would be completedbefore the CSCE summit which would be held in November 7th. The USSR proposedthat the German military be limited to three hundred to three hundred fivethousand troops, the four major powers’ Germany-related authorities andresponsibilities be preserved until five years had passed after Germanreunification, and the basic participation in pre-existing international pacts.In response, the US opposed these proposals on the basis of completeself-determination on the part of Germany.[1] The Paris talks, which began on July17, saw the resolution of numerous major issues.[2] Unified Germany to have completeself-determination[3] The abolition of any powers orresponsibilities that the four major powers had relating to Germany[4] Unified Germany to have power to joinany international pacts as it desired[5] The recognition of Oder-Neisse BorderLine[6] German military to be limited to370,000 personnel[7] German military to not use,manufacture, possess biological, chemical, radiological weapons[8] Soviet troops to withdraw completelyfrom Germany in 3-4 years[9] NATO would not undertake eastwardexpansion until Soviet withdrawal was complete[10] American, English, and French troopsto stay in Berlin until complete Soviet military withdrawal[11] The conclusion of successionagreements between Germany and Soviet Union[12] The participants agreed to finalizethe Two Plus Four Talks on September 12.On September 12th, the four-month longconference finally came to an end with the signing of the Two Plus Four Treaty,or the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, on September 12th.The Treaty, in part, included an agreement to give 13 million marks to the USSRto cover the withdrawal of its troops.However, the Two Plus Four Treaty was notput into effect until October 3rd, 1990, because the of the signatories’ slowratification process. Consequently, each foreign minister from the four majorpowers convened in New York on October 1st, 1990, and signed an agreement tosuspend their powers related to Germany. Their respective powers remainedsuspended until the Treaty was finally ratified two days later.The Two Plus Four Talks served to formulate the bilateral agreements that werereached. However, the negotiation process was not always smooth. The USSRmaintained their hardliner stance, and when the West tried to coerce Sovietcooperation, their response was that internal affairs could force the Sovietsto shut down the Talks. England and France argued that the Two Plus Four Talksdid not have any legal authority to resolve any border issues, which thereforeshould be resolved after reunification. In particular, England opposed theagreement that no international military exercises would take place in formerEast German territories until the complete withdrawal of Soviet troops.Issues not resolved at the Two Plus FourTalks were resolved in later respective bilateral talks held between Germanyand Poland, and Germany and the USSR, such as that of the German-Polish BorderTreaty. After the completion of the Talks there were numerous follow-upmeasures: [1] The treaty on several transitional measures signed on October 9th,1990;  [2] the treaty on theconditions for the temporary presence and the schedule withdrawal of the Soviettroops from Germany, signed on October 12th, 1990; [3] the Treaty on theDevelopment of a Comprehensive Cooperation in the Field of the Economy,Science, and Technology between Germany the USSR signed on November 9th,1990;  [4] the Polish-German BorderTreaty signed on November 14th, 1990; and [5] an agreement to form aGerman-USSR Youth Committee, signed on December 7th, 1990.* The views expressed in Guest Columns are not necessarily those of Daily NK. Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? 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