Nato chief Worner loses his battle with cancer

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The Independent Online
THE MAN who presided over Nato's most fateful years died yesterday, after a prolonged and brave struggle against cancer.

Manfred Worner, 59, died at home in Brussels. Until a few months ago he had continued to attend meetings and summits, even though his doctors had pleaded with him to rest to allow him to recover. Wan, thin and increasingly frail, he joked that he was becoming like Nato's new forces structure, 'leaner, but meaner'.

Mr Worner was the first German to hold the post of Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The former soldier, politician in the Christian Democrat Party and defence minister took office in 1988. During his term the Berlin Wall fell, far-reaching arms control agreements were put in place, Soviet troops left central and eastern Europe, the Soviet Union disappeared and the enmity between Moscow and the West became a peaceful, if still highly suspicious, relationship.

Mr Wornerpresided over the Rome summit, which began the transformation of Nato into a post-Cold War alliance and the 1994 Brussels summit that set the seal on that transformation by opening the prospect of membership for central and eastern European countries and initiating the alliance's Partnership for Peace scheme.

Mr Worner will be remembered for assisting his country, Europe and the West during a crucial period with his tough manner and workaholic habits.

But he was deeply troubled by developments within the alliance, which is struggling for a role after the Cold War. He anguished over the failure of Western policy in Yugoslavia, worried about the weakening of transatlantic ties and had highlighted the dangers of over-rapid and unplanned disarmament.

Prominent candidates to succeed him are likely to include Thorvald Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian foreign minister, Giuliano Amato, the former Italian prime minister, and Ruud Lubbers, the outgoing Dutch Prime Minister.