Statement on the 11th Anniversary of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
August 1, 1986
Eleven years ago today the United States, Canada, and 33 European countries signed in Helsinki the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). The signatories undertook to observe important standards of international conduct and to pursue practical steps to reduce the barriers dividing Europe between East and West. Of special importance to the West, the Final Act affirmed basic human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The Final Act is an eloquent statement of hopes and goals to which the United States fully subscribed, because its principles were rooted in our own philosophy and traditions. The United States remains firmly committed to the full implementation of the Final Act in all its provisions and to the indivisibility of its human, security, and economic dimensions. Unfortunately, the Soviet Union and its East European allies have repeatedly failed to carry out many of their Helsinki pledges. There has been limited progress since the signing of the Final Act. But the reality of Europe's division remains, and the most important promises of a decade ago have not been kept. That was our assessment on the 10th anniversary last year. It remains our assessment today. Eastern Governments continue to impede the free flow of people, information, and ideas. They continue to repress those who seek to exercise freedoms of religion, thought, conscience, and belief. They continue to disregard Final Act provisions as they choose.
As we commemorate this 11th anniversary, we should recall the hopes for greater peace and freedom in Europe expressed a decade ago. The Final Act recognized the interrelationship between these goals, that the interests of individual human beings are a fundamental part of progress toward peace in Europe, that a more stable peace among nations depends on greater freedom for the people of Europe. The ambitious goals of the Helsinki process can be achieved only through balanced progress on all fronts. The next followup meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe will open in Vienna this November. An important task of that meeting will be to take stock of the promises made and the promises kept, and to weigh the balance among the various dimensions of the Helsinki process. Governments must be made to account at Vienna for their commitments. The meeting must also address the challenge of achieving balanced progress if the Final Act is to have meaning in the daily lives of all citizens whose governments have undertaken its obligations.
The United States takes its commitments under the Final Act seriously and will continue to strive for the full realization of its goals for all the peoples of Europe. We call upon others to do likewise. We will work to ensure that the upcoming meeting in Vienna will mark a step toward making the promises of Helsinki's first decade a reality in its second.