A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991

By Vojtech Mastny; Malcolm Byrne | Go to book overview

Document No. 63: Appeal for a European
Security Conference, March 17, 1969

One of the issues discussed at the March 1969 PCC meeting was an appeal for a European security conference. This appeal was important because it eventually opened the way to the Helsinki conference and the adoption of the Helsinki Final Act in 1975. The Soviets had raised the idea time and again in previous years but always under con- ditions that were patently unacceptable to the West, such as excluding the United States or requiring restrictions of West Germany. This time Moscow issued the appeal with- out preconditions. It was still controversial, as Romanian President Ceaușescu's later comments indicate (see Document No. 64), but the public call was sufficiently open- ended that some Western countries believed it could be taken seriously. (The question of American participation remained unclear for a time, but by the end of 1969 the Soviet Union had accepted that there was no sense discussing the issue without U.S. involvement.) These materials on the CSCE show that the idea of a security confer- ence was important for the Soviets. There were certainly differences within the Eastern alliance over the nature and details of the conference, as later documents in this col- lection show, but there was enough of a consensus to allow the process to move for- ward in a manner that would fundamentally influence the way security would be defined and received by both East and West to the very end of the Cold War.

It was almost three years ago that the Warsaw Pact member-states proposed in Bucharest an all-European conference to discuss questions of European security and peaceful cooperation. Personal contacts that have taken place since then prove that not a single European government opposes the idea of an all-European conference and that realistic possibilities exist for holding such a conference. All of the European states have not met since World War II, even though there is a series of questions which they should examine at the negotiating table.

"…"

The Warsaw Pact member-states reaffirm their proposals directed against division of the world into military blocs, the arms race, and threats to people's peace and security. They also reaffirm other measures embodied in the 1967 Bucharest declaration on the strengthening of European security and peace.

"…"

The prevention of fresh military conflicts through the strengthening of economic, political, and cultural relations among states and on the basis of respect for the equality, independence, and sovereignty of countries is a question of vital importance for the European peoples. "…"

The inviolability of existing borders in Europe, including the Oder-Neisse border and the frontier between the GDR and the German Federal Republic, is a fundamental requisite for Europe's security, as is recognition of the existence of the GDR

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A Cardboard Castle? An Inside History of the Warsaw Pact, 1955-1991
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