West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher removed one of the last political obstacles to German reunification today by pledging to limit the armed forces of a united Germany.
In a speech to the 23-nation Conventional Forces in Europe talks, Genscher promised that his government will keep united German military strength to a ceiling of 370,000 within three or four years.
The new ceilings, worked out during talks between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in July, would cut by nearly half the combined forces of East and West Germany.
“We Germans know that German unification must not be allowed to cause a shift in the balance of power in Europe and to harm the security interests of any country in Europe,” Genscher told delegates to the CFE talks.
“The government of the Federal Republic of Germany reaffirms that peace alone will emanate from German soil,” he said.
The West German pledge, supported by East Germany, was a response to Soviet concern about the military potential of Germany, which is set to unite Oct. 3.
Genscher urged the delegates from NATO and Warsaw Pact countries to intensify efforts to overcome remaining obstacles and conclude a first-stage arms treaty by early October.