Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe


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Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe

 

(European Security Conference), a conference originally conceived by the USSR and other socialist countries and proposed in the “Declaration on Strengthening Peace and Security in Europe,” adopted in Bucharest in 1966 by the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact. The proposal for a European security conference was further developed in several joint documents issued by the Warsaw Pact countries, emerging as a central goal in these countries’ foreign policy and becoming an important factor in European politics. The initial reaction of the Western governments was varied. However, the proposal for a European security conference found support in nongovernment circles, and as international relations improved, first France, and subsequently the other Western governments, came to support it. The government of Finland made a major contribution to the preparation and convocation of the conference. The conclusion of treaties in the period 1970–73 between the USSR, Polish People’s Republic, German Democratic Republic, and Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, on the one hand, and the Federal Republic of Germany, on the other, and the quadripartite agreement on West Berlin were major steps toward the convocation of a conference. Contacts between Soviet political leaders and the representatives of other countries also played an important role in this respect.

After intensive bilateral talks between the conference’s future participants, the government of Finland initiated multilateral discussions in Helsinki. The discussions, which lasted from Nov. 22, 1972, to June 8,1973, resulted in the “Final Recommendations of the Helsinki Consultations,” a document that outlined the conference’s agenda, conditions, and procedures. The agenda included questions related to (1) European security, (2) cooperation in economics, science and technology, and the environment, (3) cooperation in humanitarian and other fields, and (4) follow-up to the conference.

The first stage of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe met in Helsinki from July 3 to July 7, 1973, with foreign ministers and representatives from 33 European states (Albania refused to take part in the conference), the USA, and Canada. The “Final Recommendations of the Helsinki Consultations” were adopted, and the foreign ministers set forth their governments’ views on the principal questions relating to security and cooperation in Europe and on questions relating to the further work of the conference.

The second stage of the conference lasted from Sept. 18,1973, to July 21, 1975, as delegates and experts from the participating states periodically met in Geneva for rounds of discussions of three to six months’ duration. At this stage, on the basis of proposals submitted both by the socialist countries and by the Western participating states, agreement was reached on all agenda items.

The third stage of the conference met from July 30 to Aug. 1, 1975, as heads of state and high political leaders of the participating states led delegations to Helsinki. L. I. Brezhnev, general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, led the Soviet delegation. The delegation heads addressed the conference, giving their evaluation of the results of the conference; they likewise set forth their views on developments in Europe in the light of the conference results and signed the Final Act of the conference.

The Final Act incorporates the agreements reached on all agenda items. It represents an indivisible whole, a carefully considered balance between the interests of all participating states. All the agreements contained therein are to be carried out in full.

The Final Act opens with the participating states’ pledge to give full effect to the results of the conference, to assure, among the participating states and throughout Europe, the benefits deriving from those results, and thus to broaden, deepen, and make continuing and lasting the process of détente.

The Final Act’s section on questions relating to security enunciates ten principles guiding the rules and norms of the relations and cooperation between participating states: sovereign equality and respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty, renunciation of the threat or use of force, inviolability of frontiers, territorial integrity of states, peaceful settlement of disputes, nonintervention in internal affairs, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, cooperation among states, and fulfillment in good faith of obligations under international law. Not only are the principles articulated, but each defines norms of international behavior relevant to it, what is admissible and what is inadmissible. The principles agreed upon by the participating states and guiding the relations between states are to lay a sound foundation for the elimination of aggression and force in any form from international relations in Europe.

The same section of the Final Act includes a document on confidence-building measures and certain aspects of security and disarmament, a document whose basic theme is the elimination of the causes of international tension. An important step toward peace is the participating states’ express interest in efforts aimed at lessening military confrontation and promoting disarmament and their conviction of the necessity to take effective measures in these fields. These measures are designed to complement political détente in Europe and strengthen the security of states; they constitute steps toward the ultimate achievement of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The document sets forth various agreements on cooperation in economic fields and defines the principal directions and forms in which such cooperation is to develop.

The Final Act also enunciates principles on cooperation in humanitarian fields—culture, education, information, human contacts—subject to the principles of international relations agreed to, including the principles of nonintervention and respect of sovereign rights.

The understanding on steps to be taken subsequent to the conference provides for the continuation of the multilateral process initiated by the conference.

The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe laid the foundation for a new stage in détente, affirmed the inviolability of frontiers in Europe, created favorable conditions for the preservation and strengthening of peace on the continent, and took an important step toward the consolidation of peaceful coexistence in the international arena and toward the establishment of cooperation, based on the principle of equality, between states with differing social systems. It was a great success for all participating states. Since the conclusion of the conference, the task of giving full effect to the agreements reached has come to the fore. The Twenty-fifth Congress of the CPSU expressed the position of the Soviet Union on this question: “Work vigorously for the full implementation of the Final Act of the European Conference and for greater peaceful cooperation in Europe” (Materialy XXVs”ezda KPSS, 1976, p. 26).

PUBLICATION

Vo imia mira, bezopasnosti i sotrudnichestva. Moscow, 1975.

V. A. KROKHIN

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