Helsinki-75: predictable and unpredictable consequences


Helsinki agreement August 1, 1975 signed by 35 countries — almost all the states of Europe, and the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union.

At the time of the agreement were seen as an important step in reducing international tensions "cold war", but also as a diplomatic victory for the Soviet Union, as the agreement declared the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity, political dimension that meant the recognition of the division of Europe into spheres of influence. The document recognized the borders of Europe, as they were at the end of the Second World War.

However, the president of the United States Gerald Ford signed the document only after confirmation that the United States does not recognize the forced incorporation of the Baltic countries into the USSR. At the end of the meeting in Helsinki, President Ford said:

"I arrived in Helsinki, as the representative of a nation that is always looking forward, the people, who always insisted that the future was better than the past, and whose aim was to promote peace and progress, not only for themselves but also for the whole mankind. Then I said to my colleagues, we owe it to our children, to children all over the world, so as not to miss a single opportunity to build a better and safer world. "

Helsinki agreement led to the creation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe — one of the most influential international organizations oriented towards the protection of human rights and democratic freedoms.

"Agreement on Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States", signed in Helsinki 35 years ago, contains 10 items:

First Sovereign equality, respect for the rights inherent in sovereignty
The second Refraining from the threat of force and the use of its
Third immutability borders
Fourth Territorial integrity of States
Fifth Peaceful settlement of disputes
Sixth Non-interference in the internal affairs
Seventh Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including
the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
Eighth Equal rights and the right of peoples to self-determination
Ninth Cooperation between States
Tenth in good faith the obligations deriving from the
international law.

Paragraph seven agreements — on human rights and freedoms — has led to a new dissident movements behind the "Iron Curtain." Of course, the leaders of the Soviet Union and other Soviet bloc countries were not going to stick to the principle of respect for human rights. The purpose of the Soviet Union and its satellites was to get political recognition of the status quo, the legality of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe and the division of Germany.

However, the signing of the Helsinki Agreement had unintended consequences for the countries of the communist camp. Humanitarian and human rights sections of this document (theso-called "Third basket") made an inspiring influence on the dissidents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Dissidents have a legitimate opportunity to demand that their governments fulfill their international obligations in the field of human rights, and to appeal to Western governments to those achieved with these rights by the communist bloc.

In the countries of the block began to emerge of the Helsinki Group and committees, whose purpose was to monitor the situation of human rights and fight for them. In the context of this process was the establishment of the Committee and the protection of workers in Poland and the movement "Charter 77" in Czechoslovakia. "Charter 77" took place a year after the signing of the Helsinki agreement, 242 dissidents signed a document which accused the government of Czechoslovakia to the human rights violations and non-compliance with international agreements.

In a sense, these unintended consequences of the Helsinki agreement contributed to the fall of communism in Europe 15 years after the signing.

The recognition that the state of human rights can be the subject of international debate, strengthened civil society in the countries of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and gave a strong ideological weapon to opponents of the communist regimes.

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