Ladies and Gentlemen, the North Atlantic Alliance, which, in its twenty-year existence, has stood the test of time, will also guarantee our security in the future. Its tight cohesion is the precondition for the common effort toward détente in Europe. Whichever side of the security policy we consider – whether it is our serious and persistent attempt at simultaneous and evenly matched arms limitation and arms control, or whether it is guaranteeing an adequate defense for the Federal Republic of Germany, the federal government regards its security policy, from both points of view, as a policy of equilibrium and for safeguarding peace. And, in the same way, it understands both aspects of our state’s external security as a function of the alliance to which we belong, and as part of which we will contribute to the equilibrium of forces between West and East.
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The federal government, together with its allies, will consistently support reducing military confrontation in Europe. Together with them, it will work toward simultaneous and balanced arms limitation and troop reduction in East and West.
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Our national interest does not permit us to stand between the West and the East. Our country needs cooperation and coordination with the West and understanding with the East.
But against this backdrop, I say emphatically: the German people need peace in the full sense of the word with the peoples of the Soviet Union, and with all the peoples of the European East.
We are ready for an honest attempt at understanding, so that the consequences of the harm inflicted on Europe by a criminal clique can be overcome.
We are not abandoning ourselves here to any deceptive hopes: interests, power relations, and societal differences can neither be dialectically dissolved, nor hidden beneath a cloud of smoke. But our partners also need to know this: the right to self-determination as laid down in the Charter of the United Nations also applies to the German people.
This right and the will to assert it cannot be subject to negotiation.
We are free from illusions that the work of reconciliation will be easy or quickly accomplished. We are dealing with a process, but it is time to move this process forward.
Source: Willy Brandt, “Policy Statement from October 28, 1969,” 6. Deutscher Bundestag, Stenographische Berichte, Bd. 71, 5. Sitzung, S. 21, 31-32; excerpts also reprinted in Bernhard Pollmann, ed., Lesebuch zur Deutschen Geschichte [German History Reader], vol. 3, Vom deutschen Reich bis zur Gegenwart [From the German Reich to the Present]. Dortmund, 1984, pp. 255-57.
Translation: Jeremiah Riemer