Meanwhile, demands for change from below had been fomenting since the influence of the French Revolution. Throughout the German Confederation, Austrian influence was paramount, drawing the ire of the nationalist movements. Metternich considered nationalism, especially the nationalist youth movement, the most pressing danger: German nationalism might not only repudiate Austrian dominance of the Confederation, but also stimulate nationalist sentiment within the Austrian Empire itself. In a multi-national polyglot state in which Slavs and Magyars outnumbered the Germans, the prospects of Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish, Serb, or Croatian sentiment along with middle class liberalism was certainly horrifying.
Under Prime Minister Lothar de Maizière, East Germany negotiated with West Germany, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union the preconditions for a German reunification. Due to Soviet objections to East Germany being absorbed into the NATO alliance, an agreement was reached which allowed a reunified Germany to remain a part of NATO on the condition that NATO troops were not to be stationed in East German territory. In addition to allaying Soviet concerns, Chancellor Kohl was able to convince the leaders of the United Kingdom and France that a unified Germany would represent no threat to its neighbors by tying German reunification with the tighter integration of Germany into the European Union.