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Paris Pacts

Paris Pacts, four international agreements signed in Paris on Oct. 23, 1954, to establish a new international status for West Germany. Since the end of World War II, West Germany had been occupied by Allied forces and lacked its own means of defense. By 1950 fear of possible Soviet aggression in Europe had convinced many that West Germany should be rearmed. However, the prospect of a rearmed and once again powerful Germany caused adverse reactions in France. To prevent autonomous German power, France suggested (1951) the establishment of a European Defense Community (EDC) in which all the West European nations would combine their armies to form a unitary European force under joint command. Unstable political conditions in France, however, caused the plan for the EDC to be rejected by the French National Assembly in Aug., 1954. At a conference held in London in Sept.–Oct., 1954, the foreign ministers of Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United States, and West Germany reached agreement on an alternative to the EDC, and this plan was implemented by the four Paris treaties.

The first treaty ended the occupation of West Germany and restored its full sovereignty, while providing for Allied troops to remain in the country. By the second agreement, the Brussels Treaty of 1948 was expanded to include West Germany and Italy, thereby creating the Western European Union. Signed by the Brussels powers (Belgium, France, Great Britain, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands) and by West Germany and Italy, this agreement allowed West Germany to start upon a limited rearmament program, although it banned that nation's development of certain weapons, such as large warships and nuclear devices. In the third pact, West Germany was accepted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by a protocol signed by NATO members and West Germany. The fourth pact was a Franco-German agreement providing for a "European status" for the Saarland. This agreement, however, was rejected by the Saarlanders in a popular referendum, as a result of which the Saarland later became a West German state.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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