Father of Détente is dead

The former Prime Minister, Pierre Harmel, has died at the age of 98. Mr Harmel is best remembered as the proponent of NATO's Harmel doctrine.

Pierre Harmel was a Francophone Christian democrat and served as Education Minister in the 50's. It was a time when Roman Catholics, liberals and socialists battled out the so called "Schools War" in which Christian democrats backed the Catholic schools network, while liberals and socialists defended the interests of state schools.

Mr Harmel helped to pacify this issue by negotiating the School Pact that ensured that both Roman Catholic and state schools would receive government funding.

The Christian democrat politician also served as Justice Minister in difficult times. In the mid sixties two people were killed in protests against the mine closures under his tenure.

Mr Harmel then became Belgian Foreign Minister making his mark on the international scene. He initiated NATO's Harmel doctrine and also opened the way for future European enlargement.

Paving the way for Detente

In 1967 Foreign Minister Harmel elaborated the NATO doctrine that bears his name in a document "Future Tasks of the Alliance".

Under the Harmel doctrine NATO was to remain a strong and defensive alliance that also sought rapprochement with the countries of the Warsaw Pact.

The doctrine paved the way for the Détente of the seventies, the Helsinki Accords and the OSCE, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.