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Nato (Manoeuvres)

Volume 82: debated on Tuesday 2 July 1985

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11.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many representatives of Warsaw pact states have attended as observers at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation manoeuvres since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act.

Invitations to attend exercises in accordance with the provisions of the Helsinki Final Act are issued on a bilateral basis, and consolidated information relating to all NATO countries is not available centrally.

As we have sent only three observers during the 10 years since the signing of the Helsinki Final Act and none at all since 1979, is there any point in causing problems and difficulties at the talks in Stockholm by insisting that these voluntary agreements should become mandatory?

The hon. Gentleman has raised a very interesting point. He asks why Britain and other nations have not sent more observers to the Warsaw pact exercises since 1979. Since 1980, NATO has carried out 15 major manoeuvres and has invited Warsaw pact observers to every one. In contrast, the Warsaw pact has notified us of nine such manoeuvres and since 1979 has extended not one invitation to us.

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House how the British Forces Mission to Soviet forces in East Germany is operating? There have been disquieting reports of harassment of our military personnel in East Germany. Recently, one contingent was attacked in the course of its duties. My right hon. Fried will recall that some French officers were driven off the road and that Major Nicholson of the United States forces, who was in a similar position, was shot. Can my right hon. Friend tell me more about this matter?

I am familiar, of course, with the instance relating to the British Forces Mission to which my hon. Friend referred. As with the American case, we deplore any attempts to create harassment or worse for those members carrying out their mission responsibilities under the quadripartite agreement. We continue to ensure that our mission carries out its duties properly and responsibly.