Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany

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Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany
TypeIndependence treaty / Peace treaty
Drafted13 February 1990
Signed12 September 1990
Location Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Effective15 March 1991
SignatoriesTwo
Languages

The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany (German : Vertrag über die abschließende Regelung in Bezug auf Deutschland [lower-alpha 1] ), or the Two Plus Four Agreement (German : Zwei-plus-Vier-Vertrag; [lower-alpha 2] short: German Treaty), was negotiated in 1990 between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic (the eponymous Two), and the Four Powers which occupied Germany at the end of World War II in Europe: France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the treaty the Four Powers renounced all rights they held in Germany, allowing a united Germany to become fully sovereign the following year. [1] [2] [3] On the other hand, Germany agreed to confirm its acceptance of its existing border with Poland, and accepted that the borders of Germany after unification would correspond only to the territories then administered by West and East Germany, with the exclusion and renunciation of any other territorial claims (e.g., to the Kaliningrad oblast).

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol in Italy, the German-speaking Community of Belgium and Liechtenstein. It is one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages that are most similar to the German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch, including Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany was the informal name for the Federal Republic of Germany, a country in Central Europe, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western Bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn. The Cold War era West Germany is unofficially historically designated the Bonn Republic.

East Germany Former communist state, 1949-1990

East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic, was a state that existed from 1949 to 1990, when the eastern portion of Germany was part of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Commonly described as a communist state in English usage, it described itself as a socialist "workers' and peasants' state." It consisted of territory that was administered and occupied by Soviet forces at the end of World War II — the Soviet occupation zone of the Potsdam Agreement, bounded on the east by the Oder–Neisse line. The Soviet zone surrounded West Berlin but did not include it; as a result, West Berlin remained outside the jurisdiction of the GDR.

Contents

Background

Participants in the first round of talks conducted in March 1990 to negotiate the treaty Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F083821-0005, Bonn, Auswartiges Amt, 2-4 Verhandlungen.jpg
Participants in the first round of talks conducted in March 1990 to negotiate the treaty

On 2 August 1945, the Potsdam Agreement, promulgated at the end of the Potsdam Conference, among other things agreed on the initial terms under which the Allies of World War II would govern Germany. A provisional German–Polish border known as the Oder–Neisse line awarded, in theory within the context of that "provisional border", most of Germany's eastern provinces to Poland and the Soviet Union. Those agreements reached were provisional and the agreement stipulated that the situation would be finalised by "a peace settlement for Germany to be accepted by the Government of Germany when a government adequate for the purpose is established" (Potsdam Agreement 1.3.1). Parts of those above-mentioned agreements were burdened with controversy from several sources e.g., Churchill's comment about "stuffing the Polish goose too full" (of German lands). The overall "German Question" became one of the salient and crucial issues of the long-running Cold War, and until it ended in the late 1980s, little progress had been made in the establishment of a single government of Germany adequate for the purpose of agreeing to a final settlement. This meant that in some respects (largely, but not only, technical), Germany did not have full national sovereignty. [4] :42–43

Potsdam Agreement 1945 agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the US, the UK, and the Soviet Union, after the end of World War II.

The Potsdam Agreement was the August 1945 agreement between three of the Allies of World War II, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union. It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory. It also addressed Germany's demilitarisation, reparations and the prosecution of war criminals.

Potsdam Conference

The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 17 July to 2 August 1945. The participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, represented respectively by Communist Party General Secretary Joseph Stalin, Prime Ministers Winston Churchill and Clement Attlee, and President Harry S. Truman.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Several developments in 1989 and 1990, collectively termed Die Wende and the Peaceful Revolution, led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the SED in the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany). In the 18 March 1990 national election in the GDR an electoral alliance of parties that favored German reunification via article 23 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany won a plurality. [4] :229–232 [5] :211–214 To achieve unity and full sovereignty, both German states were willing to accept the terms of the Potsdam Agreement that affected Germany. [4] It was then possible for all international parties to negotiate a final settlement. [4]

Peaceful Revolution 1989-1990 process disestablishing East Germany

The Peaceful Revolution was the process of sociopolitical change that led to the opening of East Germany's borders with the west, the end of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in the German Democratic Republic and the transition to a parliamentary democracy, which enabled the reunification of Germany in October 1990. This happened through non-violent initiatives and demonstrations. This period of change is also referred to in German as Die Wende.

Berlin Wall Barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic, enclosing West Berlin

The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Construction of the Wall was commenced by the German Democratic Republic on 13 August 1961. The Wall cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany, including East Berlin. The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, accompanied by a wide area that contained anti-vehicle trenches, "fakir beds" and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" in building a socialist state in East Germany.

Socialist Unity Party of Germany Marxist-Leninist political party and ruling state party of the GDR

The Socialist Unity Party of Germany, often known in English as the East German Communist Party, was the governing Marxist–Leninist political party of the German Democratic Republic from the country's foundation in October 1949 until its dissolution after the Peaceful Revolution in 1989. The party was established in April 1946.

Treaty

The signatures of the representatives of the four powers on the final treaty Unterschriften 2+4.jpg
The signatures of the representatives of the four powers on the final treaty

The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany was signed in Moscow, Soviet Union, on 12 September 1990, [4] :363 and paved the way for German reunification on 3 October 1990. [6] Under the terms of the treaty, the Four Powers renounced all rights they formerly held in Germany, including those regarding the city of Berlin. [4] Upon deposit of the last instrument of ratification, united Germany became fully sovereign on 15 March 1991.

Moscow Capital of Russia

Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and approximately 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.

German reunification Process in 1990 in which East and West Germany once again became one country

German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany to form the reunited nation of Germany, as provided by Article 23 of the FRG's then constitution. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity, celebrated each year on 3 October as German Unity Day. Berlin was reunited into a single city, and was once again designated as the capital of united Germany.

Sovereign state Political organization with a centralized independent government

In international law, a sovereign state, sovereign country, or simply state, is a political entity that is represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign states as having a permanent population, defined territory, one government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood that a sovereign state is neither dependent or non subjected to any other power or state.

The treaty allows Germany to make and belong to alliances, without any foreign influence in its politics. All Soviet forces were to leave Germany by the end of 1994. Before the Soviets withdrew, Germany would only deploy territorial defense units not integrated into the alliance structures. German forces in the rest of Germany were assigned to areas where Soviet troops were stationed. After the Soviets withdrew, the Germans could freely deploy troops in those areas, with the exception of nuclear weapons. For the duration of the Soviet presence, Allied troops would remain stationed in Berlin upon Germany's request. [4]

Germany undertook to reduce its armed forces to no more than 370,000 personnel, no more than 345,000 of whom were to be in the Army and the Air Force. These limits would commence at the time that the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe would enter into force, and the treaty also took note that it was expected that the other participants in the negotiations would "render their contribution to enhancing security and stability in Europe, including measures to limit personnel strengths". [7] Germany also reaffirmed its renunciation of the manufacture, possession of, and control over nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and in particular, that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would continue to apply in full to the unified Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany). No foreign armed forces, nuclear weapons, or the carriers for nuclear weapons would be stationed or deployed in six states (the area of Berlin and the former East Germany), making them a permanent Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. The German Army could deploy conventional weapons systems with nonconventional capabilities, provided that they were equipped and designed for a purely conventional role. Germany also agreed to use military force only in accordance with the United Nations Charter. [4]

German Army land warfare branch of Germanys military since 1955

The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of Germany. The present-day German Army was founded in 1955 as part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr together with the Marine and the Luftwaffe. As of 28 February 2019, the German Army had a strength of 62,194 soldiers.

German Air Force Air warfare branch of Germanys military

The German Air Force is the aerial warfare branch of the Bundeswehr, the armed forces of Germany. With a strength of 27,767 personnel, it is the fourth largest air force within the European Union, after the air forces of the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. The German Air Force was founded in 1956 during the era of the Cold War as the aerial warfare branch of the armed forces of then West Germany. After the reunification of West and East Germany in 1990, it integrated parts of the air force of the former German Democratic Republic, which itself had been founded in 1956 as part of the National People's Army. There is no organizational continuity between the current German Air Force and the former Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht combined forces founded in 1935, which was completely disbanded in 1945/46 after World War II. The term Luftwaffe that is used for both the historic and the current German air force is the German-language generic designation of any air force.

Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty

The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry. The treaty proposed equal limits for the two "groups of states-parties", the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact. In 2007, Russia "suspended" its participation in the treaty, and on 10 March 2015, citing NATO's de facto breach of the Treaty, Russia formally announced it was "completely" halting its participation in it as of the next day.

Another of the treaty's important provisions was Germany's confirmation of the by now internationally recognised border with Poland, and other territorial changes in Germany that had taken place since 1945, preventing any future claims to lost territory east of the Oder-Neisse line (see also Former eastern territories of Germany) which had historically been part of Germany for centuries before 31 December 1937. The treaty defined the territory of a 'united Germany' as being the territory of East Germany, West Germany and Berlin, prohibiting Germany from making any future territorial claims. Germany also agreed to sign a separate treaty with Poland reaffirming the present common border, binding under international law, effectively relinquishing these territories to Poland. This was done on 14 November 1990 with the signing of the German-Polish Border Treaty. [4] Furthermore, the Federal Republic was required by the treaty to amend its Basic Law so as to be constitutionally prohibited from accepting any application for incorporation into Germany from territories outside the territories of East Germany, West Germany and Berlin.

Although the treaty was signed by West and East Germany as separate sovereign states, it was subsequently ratified by united Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany).

Implementation

After the Soviet Union dissolved itself in December 1991, the command unit of the Soviet Group of Soviet Forces in Germany devolved to the Russian Federation. The German government subsequently recognized the Russian Federation's claim to be the continuator state of the Soviet Union, including the right to maintain troops in Germany until the end of 1994. However, with post-Soviet Russia facing severe economic hardship, President Boris Yeltsin ordered Russian troop deployment in Germany to be reduced to levels significantly below those permitted in the Treaty. The last Russian troops left Germany at the end of August in 1994, four months before the treaty deadline.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the Bundeswehr underwent a gradual transformation to a fully professional force. By 2011, the year Germany voluntarily suspended conscription, the Bundeswehr had retained fewer than 250,000 active duty personnel – barely two thirds of the country's treaty limit of 370,000.

Claimed violations

The treaty has been alleged to have been violated on a number of occasions. Manoeuvres including NATO troops in Trollenhagen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the area of the former East Germany have been questioned. [8] [ verification needed ] Under one interpretation of the treaty, only German forces may be deployed in the area of the former East Germany.[ dubious ] In September 2007, France offered Germany joint control over its nuclear arsenal, but the Germans rejected this. [9]

Eastward expansion of NATO

Historian Stephen F. Cohen asserted in 2005 that a commitment was given that NATO would never expand further east, [10] but according to Robert Zoellick, then a US State Department official involved in the Two Plus Four negotiating process, this appears to be a misperception; no formal commitment of the sort was made. [11] On 7 May 2008 the former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in an interview with the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph , stated his view that such a commitment had been made:

The Americans promised that NATO wouldn't move beyond the boundaries of Germany after the Cold War but now half of central and eastern Europe are members, so what happened to their promises? It shows they cannot be trusted. [12]

However, in a 2014 interview Gorbachev reversed himself by saying that the topic of "NATO expansion" as such was "not discussed at all", although he maintained that the decision to expand NATO into the east was a "violation of the spirit of the statements and assurances made to us in 1990". [13]

Some argue that such a commitment was not made during the discussions on German reunification. [14] Allegedly, the issue of expanding NATO into Central and Eastern European states was not on the agenda at that time, since all of them were Warsaw Pact members and most still had substantial Soviet military forces stationed on their soil, [15] [16] and Gorbachev "did not even contemplate seeking a provision that would bar any other Warsaw Pact countries from eventually pursuing membership in NATO". [14] This was rebuked by the National Security Archive in December 2017, which had looked in the declassified record: [17]

The documents show that multiple national leaders were considering and rejecting Central and Eastern European membership in NATO as of early 1990 and through 1991, that discussions of NATO in the context of German unification negotiations in 1990 were not at all narrowly limited to the status of East German territory, and that subsequent Soviet and Russian complaints about being misled about NATO expansion were founded in written contemporaneous memcons and telcons at the highest levels.

The invocation of the supposed non-expansion pledge to justify Russia's annexation of Crimea has been criticized by NATO. [18] [19]

Absent from the Treaty

The two-plus-four-treaty had the function of a peace treaty, but it was not called a peace treaty. This could not be in their interest "for financial reasons", according to the German State Secretary Friedrich Voss at that time. The reason was the open question of German reparations for World War II, especially in the case of Greece. Today Berlin argues that the Greeks should have made their demands in 1990. [20]

See also

Notes

  1. French: Traité sur le règlement final en ce qui concerne l'Allemagne; Russian :Договор об окончательном урегулировании в отношении Германии, lit. 'Dogovor ob okonchatel'nom uregulirovanii v otnoshenii Germanii'
  2. French: Accord Deux Plus Quatre; Russian :Соглашение «Два плюс четыре», lit. 'Soglasheniye «Dva plyus chetyre»'

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References

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  2. "Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany". Foothill College.
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Further reading