German Unification Case Study

Two Plus Four Talks



Historical Background


Goals &




By 1990, it was clear that East and West Germany were not going to become a new confederation, but were going to unify under Article 23, which permitted "other parts of Germany" to join West Germany. At this point the issue of military alliances became paramount. The four allies who had been responsible for Germany during the Cold War (United States, Soviet Union, France and Great Britain), but who had very different interests, had to complete an agreement with the two Germanys on Germany’s future military status.

Two plus four agreement meetingThe result of these security talks, which began in May of 1990 and were concluded by September 1990, came to be known as the Two Plus Four Agreement. France and Germany wanted to prevent the possibility that Germany could threaten Europe again, so they wanted a militarily weaker Germany. The Soviets worried that if East Germany was allowed to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO, other East European nations would join NATO; this could threaten Soviet Security. In fact, this scenario did come to pass, when the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland formally joined NATO in April 1999. They were especially concerned because it was clear that the Soviet military alliance, the Warsaw Pact, would not last much longer. The Warsaw Pact officially disbanded in February 1991 with the signing of the Final Settlement. Therefore, the Soviets preferred that Germany simply join the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), an organization created during detente which focused on confidence building security measures, which included the former Soviet Union as well as the NATO countries.

The United States felt strongly, however, that West Germany’s membership in NATO was crucial, and since East Germany had joined one German nation, that nation should be part of NATO. In the final agreement, East Germany did join NATO, but NATO troops were not to be stationed in East Germany. The Federal Republic agreed to give sizeable economic assistance to the Soviet Union in exchange for the removal of Soviet troops from German soil, and East German soldiers could only join the Bundeswehr, the West German Army, after it was significantly downsized.

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