De-Militarized Zone Discussed In Europe

By Metta Spencer

HOUTHALEN -- Political, labour, military, and peace leaders from 27 countries, signatories to the Final Act of the Helsinki Accords (in 1975) gathered in Belgium between February 28 and March 3 to discuss common problems of peace and security. One of the four workshops focused attention on various proposals for a nuclear-free and substantially demilitarized zone in Europe.

Although various previous proposals along these lines were mentioned and compared, the main proposal under review was that of Albert De Smaele, a Belgian who had been a leading figure in the original Helsinki process from its inception. In the end, the resolution adopted by the workshop was received with approval by the entire conference, which comprised 175 delegates.

De Smaele's proposal would have five phases:

  1. Measures shall be taken to ensure that no nuclear or conventional weapons be fired from or at the zone;
  2. Nuclear and conventional armaments shall be frozen in the zone comprising the area between the two nuclear frontiers and behind these, as described by the signatories of SALT Il in August 1979 when they recognized that an overall balance existed between the nuclear forces of the two alliances;
  3. Subsequently, foreign nuclear and conventional armaments shall be gradually withdrawn from the zone in balanced proportions;
  4. Nuclear and conventional armaments shall be gradually withdrawn from the zone in balanced proportions;
    • Nuclear and conventional armaments shall be reduced in parallel on European territory as a whole, and the sites of the weapons retained shall be specified;
  5. Finally, the non-nuclear nations shall be effectively organized for non nuclear defence.

This plan has received the endorsement of hundreds of influential political leaders throughout Europe. Perhaps most impressive was the acceptance of the idea by representatives of the Soviet Union, who were numerous and active in the discussions. It was agreed that the project would be realized when sufficient political will exists to impel governments to promote the idea with conviction.

Peace Magazine April 1985

Peace Magazine April 1985, page 23. Some rights reserved.

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