European Security

January 17, 1973

Report Outline
East-West Conferences on Security
Changing Political Forces in Europe
Prospects for Peaceful Coexistence
Special Focus

East-West Conferences on Security

Increased Tempo ofm Detente Diplomacy in Europe

The most promising winds of detente since the end of World War II are blowing across Europe. Representatives of 32 European nations, along with those from the United States and Canada, are meeting in Helsinki to discuss a proposed Conference on European Security and Cooperation, tentatively scheduled for June. Nato and Warsaw Pact countries have agreed to meet in Lausanne Jan. 31 for preparatory talks on a proposed mutual and balanced reduction of the massive armies facing each other across the Iron Curtain. That conference is expected to get under way in August. While superpower summitry dominated international affairs in 1972, the multilateral negotiations in prospect seem to have already fulfilled the prophecy of presidential adviser Henry Kissinger that this will be “the year of Europe.”

The two European conferences, coupled with President Nixon's dramatic visits to Peking and Moscow last year, have prompted some commentators to declare that the era of sharp ideological confrontation—the Cold War—is over, or is at least drawing rapidly to a close. Others note that detente has been a recurrent theme in pan-European affairs for the past quarter century. Yet each relaxation of tension led eventually to a new crisis which raised up, time and again, the frightening specter of World War III. The Soviet initiative for a security conference, long rejected by the United States, is still regarded as a trap in some quarters.

Differences have already cropped up at the Helsinki talks. Since they began Nov. 22, 1972, the Soviet Union has made it clear that it wants the conference to ratify the status quo in Europe—the division of the continent into two spheres of influence. The United States has objected to press censorship in Russia, sought to ease Soviet restrictions on East-West travel and establish the right of Soviet citizens to emigrate—suggestions that were denounced as “impertinent” by Moscow. Smaller nations are pressing for a declaration of respect for their national independence. The very number of countries involved in European security, not to mention the difficulty of the issues, indicates that agreement on any particular point will require large measures of compromise and statesmanship.

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Jan. 17, 1973  European Security
Sep. 03, 1969  Benelux Cooperation
Jun. 15, 1966  European Realignment
Sep. 19, 1962  Political Integration of Europe
Mar. 27, 1957  European Economic Union
Jan. 02, 1952  European Unification
Jan. 08, 1951  Defense of Europe
May 21, 1947  Federation of Europe
Nov. 16, 1939  Federal Union and World Peace
Apr. 12, 1933  European Political Alignments
Alliances and Security Agreements
Regional Political Affairs: Europe
U.S. at War: Cold War