General Treaty

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The General Treaty (German: Generalvertrag also Deutschlandvertrag - “Germany Treaty”) is a treaty of international law which was signed by the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG or West Germany), and the Western Allies (France, The United Kingdom, and the United States) on 26 May 1952 but which took effect, with some slight changes, only in 1955. It ended formally Germany's status as an occupied territory and gives it the rights of a sovereign state, with certain restrictions that remained in place until German reunification.

Attaining sovereignty had become necessary in light of the rearmament efforts of the FRG. For this reason, it was agreed that the Treaty would only come to force when West Germany also joined the European Defense Community (EDC). Because the EDC Treaty was not approved by France's Parliament on 30 August 1954, the General Treaty could not come into effect. After this failure, the EDC Treaty had to be reworked and the nations at the London Nine-Power Conference decided to allow West Germany to join NATO and to create the Western European Union (not to be confused with the European Union). With this development, West Germany, under the leadership of Konrad Adenauer, in front of the backdrop of the Cold War became a fully trusted partner of the western allies and with the second draft of the General Treaty, West Germany largely regained its sovereignty. The Allies, however, retained some controls over Germany until 1991 (see further Two Plus Four Agreement).

After the ratification of the Paris Treaties on 5 May 1955 the General Treaty took full effect.

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