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Regional Outlook : Drinking a Toast to Europe's Future : Leaders of 34 nations will meet in Paris next week. Times correspondents in key capitals report on their hopes and fears for the Continent.

November 13, 1990|WILLIAM TUOHY

BRUSSELS — From Secretary General Manfred Woerner on down, officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization publicly welcome the permanent establishment of a CSCE secretariat. Privately, however, some NATO officials express reservations that the CSCE may try to bite off more than it can chew in terms of its security brief.

And NATO is not alone. The European Commission, the executive arm of the 12-member European Community (EC), is also nervous that the new CSCE secretariat might try to usurp some of its policy-making powers.

As NATO searches for a new role in the wake of the Cold War, its 16 members believe that an organization that has proven its immense worth during the past 40 years should not be upstaged by an untried newcomer.

"NATO has been closely consulted about the future of the CSCE," observed a deputy ambassador here. "Our members have been in the forefront of advocating the various measures expected to be approved at the Paris summit."

And another NATO official added: "We see the institutionalization of the CSCE as complementary organization to NATO. But CSCE cannot and should not replace NATO. Why? Because CSCE will be made up of 16 NATO nations, the Eastern Europeans, and 12 neutral or nonaligned countries. NATO works by consensus--by the silence rule. That is, one asks: 'Any objections? If not, motion carried.'

"It is hard to imagine the 34 countries in CSCE reaching a consensus on many of the hard questions on security that will undoubtedly have to be faced."

The officials at NATO's Brussels headquarters contend that a sizable military force is still needed in Europe until it is clearer that the Soviet Union no longer poses a threat to the West.

As one NATO diplomat put it: "We don't want to be rivals with the CSCE, or for that matter, the EC, or the Western European Union (WEU--a group of European NATO members who jointly consult on defense matters). NATO will help in any way we can, as we watch how the CSCE develops as an institution. But this will take years, and, meanwhile, we should make sure that NATO isn't scrapped before there is something just as effective to take its place."

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