In recent years both NATO and Russia have increasingly engaged in deterrence through rearmament and threats against each other rather than working for common security allover Europe through confidence and security building measures, arms control, and disarmament. By so doing, they have failed to comply with their commitments to develop a peaceful European order, to strengthen the United Nations and to peacefully settle disputes including mandatory arbitration by a third party – obligations to which all heads of state in Europe and North America formally agreed in the ‘Charter of Paris’ 25 years ago.
During the years since the signing of the Paris Charter, many mistakes have contributed to eroding the laboriously built trust and hampering the peaceful resolution of crises and conflicts. Without cooperation with Russia there will be risks of confrontation, a new arms race, escalation of the Ukraine conflict, and more terror and wars in the Middle East intensifying the flow of refugees. European security – regardless of the assessment of each other’s social order – will not be possible without cooperation between Russia and its neighbors.
This is the central lesson from the policy of détente followed in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the contributions of US President John F.Kennedy and the West German government under Chancellor Willy Brandt, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971, on the grounds that “Brandt outstretched his hand for reconciliation between old enemies.” At that time, no one could know that less than 20 years later this policy of détente would result in creating the conditions for the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall and Central Europe’s Iron Curtain.
Today, as then, a way out of the deadlock of confrontation is only possible through cooperation, understanding and reconciliation with supposed enemies.
In early 2009 the ‘architect of détente’, Egon Bahr – together with Helmut Schmidt, Richard von Weizsäcker and Hans Dietrich Genscher made a joint appeal for a “nuclear weapons free world”, reminding newly elected US President Obama that ‘our century’s key word is cooperation. No global problem can be solved by confrontation or by the use of military force.’
Similar views were expressed in the US by a broad range of public figures across the political spectrum such as George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn. In Germany’s Bundestag the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and Alliance 90/The Greens in January 2010 agreed on joint resolution 17/1159 which inter alia “calls for the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany”. Given the escalation of the Ukraine crisis public support for Minsk II” and a “new détente” increased.
Egon Bahr and others have made repeated proposals to diffuse or resolve the current conflict through détente. Numerous prominent citizens have supported the declarations and proposals. In a joint statement representatives from churches, business, political parties and civil society called for ‘a new policy of peace and détente NOW!’. But in public security debates these calls have been largely ignored.
Today, a broad public and multi-partisan discussion on the demand for a “new policy of détente NOW” is more necessary than ever. The confrontation in Europe has to cease and –– with benefits to the whole world — an All-European zone of ‘common security’ through the cooperation of all states from Vancouver to Vladivostok must be created.
Signed by the Initiators:(Personal information for identification purposes only)
Julia Berghofer (Coordinator, PNND Germany); Dr. Wolfgang Biermann (Political Scientist / former Foreign Policy Advisor to Egon Bahr); Prof. Dr. Peter Brandt (Historian and author); Frank Bsirske (chairman, United Services Trade Union of Germany ver.di); Dr. Daniel Ellsberg (Author / Senior Fellow, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation / former State and Defense Department official / revealed ‘Pentagon Papers’ about the Vietnam war); Ulrich Frey (Peace Worker in the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland / for many years active in the Civil Conflict Management Platform); Gregor Giersch (Organization for International Dialogue and Conflict Management IDC, Vienna); Reiner Hoffmann (Chairman, German Federation of Trade Unions DGB); Andreas Metz (Head, Press and Communications, Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations); Dr. Hans Misselwitz (Willy-Brandt-Circle / member of the SPD Basic Values Commission); Jörg Pache (Historian, Administrator of the homepage); Wiltrud Rösch-Metzler (Political Scientist / Freelance Journalist / National Chairwoman of the Catholic peace movement Pax Christi); Prof. Dr. Götz Neuneck (Peace Researcher / Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs); Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser (Theologian / former Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches); Rebecca Sharkey (National Coordinator of ICAN / UK); Dr. Christine Schweitzer (Peace Researcher / Co-managing Director of the German Federation for Social Defense); Prof. Dr. Horst Teltschik (former Director of the Munich Security Conference / former Director and Deputy Head of Staff, Chancellor’s Office); Alyn Ware (Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament / Cofounder of UNFOLD ZERO); Dr. Christian Wipperfürth (Author, Associate Fellow German Council on Foreign Relations); Gabriele Witt (Co-Initiator of the Berlin Appeal); Burkhard Zimmermann (Co-Initiator of the Berlin Appeal / responsible for the homepage http://www.neue-entspannungspolitik.berlin – according to the German press law); Andreas Zumach (Journalist / Advisor to the Initiative).
Advisory Group: This website initiative receives expert advice by Dr. Ute Finckh Krämer (Member of the German Bundestag MdB / from 2005 to 2015 Co-Chairperson to the Federation for Social Defence), Xanthe Hall, (IPPNW Germany), Martin Hinrichs (Political Scientist / Board Member of ICAN Germany), Prof. Dr. Götz Neuneck (Federation of German Scientists VDW / Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs), Hermann Vinke (Journalist and Author / former ARD International Radio Correspondent) and Andreas Zumach.