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Warsaw Treaty Organization

Warsaw Treaty Organization or Warsaw Pact, alliance set up under a mutual defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, in 1955 by Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. The organization was the Soviet bloc's equivalent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Initiated as an alliance made necessary by the remilitarization of West Germany under the Paris Pacts of 1954, the treaty was binding for 20 years but would lapse in the event of a general European collective security treaty. A unified military command, with headquarters in Moscow, directed the united forces, which included Soviet divisions stationed in some of the member nations prior to the signing of the treaty. In 1962, Albania was no longer invited to Warsaw Treaty meetings and formally withdrew in 1968. In the same year, the organization sent forces to occupy Czechoslovakia after that country began to take steps toward democratization. The 1989 collapse of the Communist governments in Eastern Europe made the treaty superfluous, as the new governments repudiated their former ally, the Soviet Union. The Warsaw Treaty Organization dissolved in June, 1991.

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

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