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Thursday, 1 June 1989
Page: 3223

Senator GILES —My question is asked of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. What is the Australian Government's attitude to the outcome of the recently concluded North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The declaration that emerged from this week's NATO summit is an important and timely document, as I would hope the Opposition would appreciate. In what has been a very balanced and responsible statement, NATO has chartered a course that is fully responsive to the unprecedented opportunities that are now available to establish a new pattern of relations between East and West characterised by cooperation, trust and peaceful competition. We applaud particularly in this respect the very constructive leadership shown by President Bush at the summit by responding with imagination and boldness in seeking a satisfactory compromise by linking progress on conventional force reductions in Europe with reductions in short-ranged nuclear forces (SNF). It is a linking such that, once implementation of a conventional arms control agreement is under way, the United States, in consultation with its allies, is prepared to enter into negotiations to achieve a partial reduction in United States and Soviet land-based nuclear forces of shorter range to equal and verifiable levels.

The highlights of the NATO declaration included acknowledgment of the important and welcome changes taking place in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and some Eastern European countries; a resolve to maintain viable and credible defences of the lowest possible level consistent with security requirements; the view that, based on the historic progress of recent years, the alliance can now exploit fully the potential of arms control as an agent of change; a far-reaching proposal to radically cut, as I have said, conventional forces in Europe in an ambitious timetable to reach and implement the agreement; a determination to press ahead comprehensively through the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe process to overcome the division of Europe; a resolve to develop NATO into a more mature and balanced partnership corresponding to the political and economic realities of the 1990s; and, finally, a clear acknowledgment that security has to be seen in a broader context and include such issues as environmental degradation, resources and complex and grave economic disparities.

These developments all have, in their way, important implications for Australia in that, just as we could not in the past escape the ramifications of East-West tensions over Europe, so these new developments should enhance encouraging trends that are equally apparent in our part of the world.