Jacques Andréani

The Trap Helsinki and the Fall of Communism Publication date : September 1, 2005

On 1st August 1975, thirty-five heads of government and of state met in Helsinki, Finland, to sign the Final Act concluding the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The signatories included Tito, Leonid Brezhnev, Gerald Ford, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, Helmut Schmidt, Harold Wilson and Aldo Moro. The sixty-page agreement, the result of three years of negotiations, established a new era of détente in East-West relations. It would seem that one of the two opposing camps had won - but which one?
Jacques Andréani explains how and why the Helsinki Accords were reached. What impact did the accords have on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe? How did they influence the changes that occurred there? And, particularly, why did the political regimes of those nations ultimately collapse? What has changed in international relations since then?

One of the most important diplomatic agreements after Yalta is reviewed and re-evaluated here in the light of the challenges facing us today. This is a pertinent reflection on what diplomacy can do at a time when its role is being questioned.

Jacques Andréani is a French diplomat and has held several ambassadorial postings. He headed the French delegation that prepared the Helsinki conference.