In April 1985, the general secretaries of the communist and workers' parties of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, and Romania gathered in Warsaw to sign a protocol extending the effective term of the 1955 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, which originally established the Soviet-led political-military alliance in Eastern Europe.
In late 1989, the East Germans revolted; the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989, and the German Democratic Republic's communist government collapsed. German unification became a serious possibility. A unified Germany hosting large numbers of foreign troops belonging totwo opposing military blocs was not a serious possibility. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev, British Prime Minister Margaret H. Thatcher, French President François Mitterrand, and American President George Bush participated in a series of dramatic meetings in 1990. These negotiations culminated in a series of international agreements that recognized Germany as a single, unified nation, effective October 3, 1990. While these events unfolded, the Warsaw Pact collapsed. This collapse was a direct consequence of the "velvet" revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1988-89 as the peoples of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria rejected their communist governments. Equally important was the fact that Gorbachev and the leaders of the Soviet Union allowed the revolutions to proceed. Previous attempts by Warsaw Pact nations to depart from communism had resulted in forceful Soviet military intervention.
The Warsaw Pact alliance of the East European socialist states was the nominal counterweight to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on the European continent. Unlike NATO, founded in 1949, however, the Warsaw Pact did not have an independent organizational structure but functions as part of the Soviet Ministry of Defense. In fact, throughout the more than thirty years since it was founded, the Warsaw Pact served as one of the Soviet Union's primary mechanisms for keeping its East European allies under its political and military control. The Soviet Union used the Warsaw Pact to erect a facade of collective decision making and action around the reality of its political domination and military intervention in the internal affairs of its allies. At the same time, the Soviet Union also used the Warsaw Pact to develop East European socialist armies and harness them to its military strategy.
Since its inception, the Warsaw Pact reflected the changing pattern of Soviet-East European relations and manifested problems that affect all alliances. The Warsaw Pact evolved into something other than the mechanism of control the Soviet Union originally intended it to be, and it became increasingly less dominated by the Soviet Union since the 1960s. The organizational structure of the Warsaw Pact grew and provided a forum for greater intra-alliance debate, bargaining, and conflict between the Soviet Union and its allies over the issues of national independence, policy autonomy, and East European participation in alliance decision making. While the Warsaw Pact retained its internal function in Soviet-East European relations, its non-Soviet members also developed sufficient military capabilities to become useful adjuncts of Soviet power against NATO in Europe.
Although some ideologicalvariation was tolerated in the Eastern bloc, Soviet prestige and international credibility demanded thatdecisive military action be taken if Moscow's policies were openly defied. From the Kremlin's perspective,any loss of prestige risked the spread of dissent in the Eastern bloc. If one state were to defy Moscow, they all might follow suit.
By the time Mikhail Gorbachev took power, a consensus had developed among Soviet leaders on the need for major reform in economic policy. The resulting amalgam of perestroika, glasnost, and demokratizatsiya irreversibly transformed the Soviet system, without bringing either economic progress or domestic tranquility. "New thinking" in Soviet foreign policy was also the outgrowth of the failures of past security and foreign policies. The fast pace of political and economic change, which unfolded in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, produced remarkable developments. These developments significantly affected the international security environment.
The departure from Afghanistan of the last Soviet combat soldier on 15 February 1989 represented a significant and crucial event. One casualty of Soviet reform and "new thinking" on foreign policy was the Brezhnev Doctrine. The abandonment of this doctrine ended Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe. In a speech in Italy in September 1989, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesmanGennediy Gerisomov said that the USSR had replaced the Brezhnev Doctrine with the Frank Sinatra Doctrine, from the title of one of his famous songs, "I did it myway." Cocurrent with the repudiation of the Brezhnev Doctrine, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was the first domino in the systematic collapse of the pro-Soviet regimes in Eastern Europe, and in the fall of the last domino, the Soviet Union.
Formal renunciation of the communist party by members of the Warsaw Pact during 1989 and 1990 resulted in changes in government and major agreements. The second Conference of Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) summit - attended by members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Warsaw Pact, and all other European nations, except Albania - was held in Paris during 19-21 November 1990. CSCE leaders signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, which proclaimed a new era of democracy and peace on the continent. Leaders of NATO and Warsaw Pact nations also signed the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE). Rejection of the communist party during 1989 and 1990 by East European member nations culminated in dissolution of the Warsaw Pact on 01 July 1991.
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