CSCE Summit Closes Bleak Chapter in Europe's History Treaty Signed by 34 Nations Drastically Reduces Conventional Arsenals in Europe Series: Toward a New Europe: CSCE Summit
Francine S. Kiefer, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
THE historic Paris summit of the leaders of 34 nations this week was marked by a great sense of victory over the cold war.
But at the same time, many leaders, especially those from Eastern Europe, were just as concerned about the Continent's next round of challenges, such as a surge in nationalism or the threat of an economically, instead of ideologically, divided Continent.
The feeling that a long, painful chapter in Europe's history had closed was rooted in the signing of a treaty here at the beginning of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) on Monday.
The treaty drastically reduces conventional arsenals in Europe. In addition, 22 CSCE members (those belonging to NATO and the Warsaw Pact), signed a pledge disavowing any future aggression against each other.
The same tone featured in the closing document of the CSCE summit, the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. "The era of confrontation and division of Europe has ended. We declare that henceforth our relations will be founded on respect and cooperation," the Charter says.
Time and again the heads of state, who had 12 minutes each to speak, expressed gratitude for the principles of CSCE, signed in 1975, which had encouraged dissidents under communist rule in Eastern Europe to stand up for their human rights.
At the same time, summit participants wanted to adapt the CSCE, which includes all European countries (except Albania) plus the US and Canada, to the new era beginning in Europe.
The Charter outlines a series of steps to strengthen CSCE. Members agreed to regular meetings of heads of state, foreign ministers, and senior foreign office officials. They agreed to form a small administrative secretariat in Prague, an office to monitor elections located in Warsaw, and a conflict prevention center in Vienna. …