10 - The Transition to the Post Cold-War
But scenarios continued to change, as did the political and socio-economic landscape surrounding the Mediterranean area. Popular demonstrations in Bulgaria and Romania led to dramatic regime changes. Hungary opened its western borders. The Berlin Wall came down. NATO offered new relationships to Central and Eastern European nations. The Warsaw Pact ceased to exist on 31 March 1991.
The early 1990s might be termed an era of post-transition. Arms control was the preferred route to build a safer European security environment. AFSOUTH played an important role in the process by indicating the specific problems and needs of the Mediterranean area, while adapting once again to a changing security environment.
Never more than after the collapse of the Soviet Union did the whole of Europe have the feeling of how important the stability of the Mediterranean was for its own security, and of the emerging threats against this region. This acknowledgement was reflected in a statement made by Mr. Manfred Woerner, NATO's Secretary Gen., before Turkish academicians in October 1990:
"...Europe is by no means a heaven of security yet. The fate of glasnost and perestroika is still uncertain, and it is an open question where the dramatic current developments in the Soviet Union and in the Balkans will ultimately lead. Notwithstanding all our encouragement and concrete assistance, we equally cannot yet tell if the courageous revolutions of the peoples of central and Eastern Europe, driven by the quest for freedom, will actually produce successful democracies and economic reforms. In many places old ethnic problems, border disputes and power struggles have reared their head. Nationalism, a force we believed was approaching extinction, is trumpeting its resurrection with fanfare in many parts of Europe. These uncertainties affect the security of our Alliance Southern region even more than Central Europe. It therefore becomes all the more essential for our Alliance to keep developments here in the Mediterranean under careful scrutiny and to be on our guard that the security of our southern member states remains as solid and as indivisible as that of all the other states."
The term "out-of-area," for years a taboo if associated with NATO, became a matter of open discussion at political level. The President of the North Atlantic Assembly, Mr. Patrick Duffy, suggested that NATO should start coping directly with events affecting its security, no matter if outside of its borders. The Persian Gulf crisis gave ample evidence of this reality.