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Helsinki 1975 and the Transformation of Europe

Helsinki 1975 and the Transformation of Europe

Oliver Bange
Gottfried Niedhart
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Helsinki 1975 and the Transformation of Europe
    Book Description:

    It was in Europe that the Cold War reached a decisive turning point in the 1960s, leading to the era of detente. The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), with its Final Act in Helsinki in August 1975, led to a rapprochement between East and West in the fields of security, economy and culture. This volume offers a pilot study in what the authors perceive as the key issues within this process: an understanding over the 'German problem' (balancing the recognition of the post-war territorial status quo against a formula for the eventuality of a peaceful change of frontiers) and the Western strategy of transformation through a multiplication of contacts between the two blocs. Both of these arguments emerged from the findings of an international research project on 'Detente and CSCE in Europe, 1966-1975', funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung and headed by the two editors.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-016-6
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Oliver Bange and Gottfried Niedhart
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)
    Oliver Bange and Gottfried Niedhart

    Throughout the 1960s, international relations, and particularly those between East and West, underwent a constant yet momentous change. ‘Berlin’ and ‘Cuba’ became the synonyms of a Cold War on the verge of a worldwide catastrophe. At the same time, the acknowledgement of this volatile and potentially fatal situation by both the wider public and key decision makers led to a comprehensive rethinking of the East-West conflict on both sides and to a number of new approaches, all aimed at ‘civilising’ the confrontation. The variety of stratagems developed at that time are widely subsumed under the term of ‘détente’, which was...

  6. 1 An Intricate Web: Ostpolitik, the European Security System and German Unification
    (pp. 23-38)
    Oliver Bange

    It is certainly true that the ‘thousand days’ – to adopt the famous term of Schlesinger’s account of the Kennedy administration¹ – of the first Brandt government has defined the image of the man and his policies until today. Friend and foe alike, domestic and international, were taken by surprise by the mere speed, courage and eventual success of theNeue Ostpolitikpursued by the new SPD-FDP coalition after years of standstill. This was even more surprising in the light of the almost complete reshuffle in the Chancellor’s Office and still more evident in the Foreign Office, where the new minister, Walter...

  7. 2 Peaceful Change of Frontiers as a Crucial Element in the West German Strategy of Transformation
    (pp. 39-52)
    Gottfried Niedhart

    In February 1975, Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the American President for National Security Affairs, wrote a status report on the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), pointing out that the German question had been uppermost in the Soviet mind when Moscow proposed a European security conference in 1954. The Soviet leadership ‘conceived of it as an ersatz peace conference to confirm the post-war boundaries of a divided Germany. In theOstpolitiktreaties, Willy Brandt accepted the German situation and conceded the Soviets much of what they desired from Bonn. Nevertheless, the Soviets still wanted broader West European...

  8. 3 France and the German Question in the Context of Ostpolitik and the CSCE, 1969–1974
    (pp. 53-66)
    Marie-Pierre Rey

    This assertion, expressed in 1965 by Charles de Gaulle in conversation with Hervé Alphand, then French Ambassador in Washington, shows that for the French President, by the mid-1960s, international détente was one of the essential preconditions for a possible pacific settlement of the German question – the other one being the ability of the USSR to evolve – and that any future settlement leading to German reunification would have to take place within an official European framework. However, three years after de Gaulle’s declaration, the Prague tragedy and the occupation of Czechoslovakia brought a serious setback to détente, and several months before...

  9. 4 Transformation or Status Quo: The Conflict of Stratagems in Washington over the Meaning and Purpose of the CSCE and MBFR, 1969–1973
    (pp. 67-82)
    Stephan Kieninger

    The Helsinki Final Act, signed on 1 August 1975, contained both elements recognising the status quo in Europe as well as elements implying its overcoming. On the one hand, by establishing the principle of inviolability of frontiers, the Soviet Union received multilateral recognition of her sphere of control in Central and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, with the support of the neutral and non-aligned countries (the so-called N+Ns), NATO’s member states succeeded in embodying the principle of peaceful change of frontiers in the Final Act’s catalogue of principles. Specifically, the Bonn government, against persistent Soviet resistance, insisted upon not...

  10. 5 Britain, the German Question and the Transformation of Europe: From Ostpolitik to the Helsinki Conference, 1963–1975
    (pp. 83-97)
    Luca Ratti

    The aim of this chapter is to provide an evaluation of the British attitude towards West GermanOstpolitikand calls for a European Security Conference (ESC). More specifically, the chapter will focus on the evolution of the British view of the German problem and proposals for a European Security Conference, from the beginning of West German economicOstpolitikin 1963 to the signing on 1 August 1975 of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki. British decision makers believed that both issues were closely connected. In the British view, the Soviet proposal...

  11. 6 Finlandisation in Reverse: The CSCE and the Rise and Fall of Economic Détente, 1968–1975
    (pp. 98-112)
    Juhana Aunesluoma

    The turn of the 1970s saw a boom in East-West economic interaction. Trade figures rose to new heights as a result of the twin effect of the Cold War détente and economic modernisation and reforms in the East.

    In 1960, total East-West trade turnover had only been $6 billion, but by the end of the decade the figure had risen to $16 billion, an increase of nearly 200 per cent. From there on the volume of trade grew to $31 billion in 1973 and $44 billion in 1974.⁴

    Political breakthroughs, epitomised by West Germany’sOstpolitik,⁵ France’s overtures to the East...

  12. 7 The Warsaw Pact, the German Question and the Birth of the CSCE Process, 1961–1970
    (pp. 113-128)
    Csaba Békés

    The 1960s gave rise to many radical worldwide changes, not least the spectacular transformation of East-West relations. The overture to this era, however, was determined by one of the gravest international crises of the Cold War period. The history of the Berlin crisis resulting in the construction of the Berlin Wall became a well-studied symbol of the Cold War. What is much less known, however, is the fact that the Eastern bloc misinterpreted many of the implications the conflict entailed. While the members of the Warsaw Pact were not worried about a direct military conflict with the West, they believed...

  13. 8 Romania, Ostpolitik and the CSCE, 1967–1975
    (pp. 129-143)
    Mihail E. Ionescu

    This chapter is organised into four main sections. The first presents the way Bucharest perceived the new policy of West Germany and how the Romanian communist regime interpreted, evaluated and reacted to it. The second refers to the economic sector, seen by Bucharest as a priority in its relations with West Germany. The third section – the largest – presents the interactions between Romania and West Germany in preparing the CSCE. Finally, the fourth section presents some preliminary conclusions on an episode of recent history, research on which has only just begun.

    Bucharest could not have missed this new direction in West...

  14. 9 Preserving the Status Quo or Promoting Change: The Role of the CSCE in the Perception of Polish Authorities
    (pp. 144-159)
    Wanda Jarąbek

    Beginning with the issuance of the Bucharest declaration of the Warsaw Pact countries in 1966, a European Security Conference became one of the main political aims of the Soviet bloc countries. However, the hopes set on the conference were contingent on those countries’ individual needs, as well as prejudices rooted in their historical experiences.

    The main aim of this chapter is to analyse the way in which the conference was treated by the then Polish government, while social responses to the conference as such – however important to the later course of events – were not the subject of research. While there...

  15. 10 Bulgaria, Balkan Diplomacy and the Road to Helsinki
    (pp. 160-174)
    Kostadin Grozev and Jordan Baev

    The 1960s and the early 1970s were quite dramatic years in the general dynamics of the Cold War era. A period that began with the greatest post-war military and political confrontation (symbolised by the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962) ended a decade and a half later with the gathering at the Helsinki Summit in 1975 of the representatives of thirty-five nation states on both sides of the Iron Curtain. The signing of the Helsinki Final Act with its ‘three Baskets’ was a display of the mutual political will of all signatories...

  16. 11 Unintended Consequences: Soviet Interests, Expectations and Reactions to the Helsinki Final Act
    (pp. 175-190)
    Svetlana Savranskaya

    This chapter will analyse Soviet interests and expectations in the process leading up to the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, and the reaction by the Soviet authorities to the domestic consequences of the signing – the emergence of powerful human rights movements. The first part of the analysis will trace the evolution of the Soviet position on the CSCE, and will make an attempt to outline some internal disagreements within the Soviet government regarding the negotiations. The second part will look at the development of human rights movements throughout the Soviet Union and the KGB efforts to suppress them.


  17. Archival Sources
    (pp. 191-192)
  18. References
    (pp. 193-199)
  19. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 200-202)
  20. Index
    (pp. 203-208)