A European Peace Order and the German Question: Legal and Political Aspects

The post-World War II political setting in Europe was marked by the stable posture of two tightly structured opposing bloc-systems. In military terms, the Warsaw Pact and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and in the economic sphere, the Eastern European Council for Mutual Economic Cooperation and the Western European Economic Communities, represented the stark distinctions of the Cold War. This stable posture has definitely come to an end. Due to the rapid decline of the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, there is a growing concern in various political quarters about an emerging political instability in Eastern and Central Europe brought about by the Eastern European States’ reassertion of their political independence. The primary source of concern over a possible instability in Central Europe – and elsewhere – is, however, the issue of an imminent (re-) unification of Germany. This concern has a special sense of urgency about it because the re-emergence of a unified Germany, now taken for granted, might come about so rapidly as to not allow for a careful restructuring of the European state system. Such restructuring is necessary in order to avoid the risks of general political instability, and the risk of a renewed threat to the security of the European nations in particular, on the part of a unified Germany. As the emphasis on a renewed German threat already indicates, the problem of a European Peace Order which safeguards the security of all European states and accommodates German interests in gaining or simultaneously re-establishing a unified national state, is not a new one. In order to get a clear and sober assessment of the needs which a lasting European Peace Order must meet in the light of historical experience, including a solution to the notorious “German Question,” a short review of the problem of a European Peace Order may be helpful as a prelude to the following discussion of the possible course of events, and the adequate strategies to influence that course.