These were the internal reasons; to this was added an external situation that helped greatly and without which, let us say it openly, it would have been impossible, in the very short period of eight years (1949-1957) – at the peak of the market value of the German political potential – to establish the treaty network of the postwar era. These were the years of the Cold War and thus of a greatly pronounced need for security in the free world, a need that also wanted to seize the support of this German potential. Therefore, the numerous reservations that appeared everywhere were waived.
These times have come to an end. The new situation, which does not carry with it the guarantee of permanence, has been on the horizon since the Kennedy administration, since the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961, since Cuba in 1963. The old situation (i.e., 1949-1957) stopped the moment people started, I would not say recognizing the end of the Cold War, that would be erroneous, but anticipating* it in a kind of foreign-policy wishful thinking. Some refer to what has emerged as polycentrism; they have finally discovered that the East Bloc is also made up of different states. And the others, less scientific in their terminology, simply refer to it as détente.
What are the repercussions of these changes for us, for Germany and for its policy toward Europe? Are they of a kind that would question the existence of the European Communities? Well, we must be cold and merciless to ourselves in our scrutiny of this. We have to look at the entire structure of the postwar treaties to see whether it still holds or has become brittle. We also have to account for what is actually behind what others think and conceive of as polycentrism and détente. Even insofar as we do not comply with them, these subjective facts are indeed givens in political events and we have to account for them. In conducting our review, we have a decisive and wholly legitimate criterion for distinguishing between what is useful and what is not, and that is the question of whether – and to what extent – these treaties still serve our interests today. This includes the question: what then are our goals? Unfortunately, it is a question that is often neglected.
[ . . . ]
* Italics added in both cases for the sake of clarity – eds.