The Helsinki Accords

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The Helsinki Accords- 1973-5
The Helsinki accords came about just after USA and soviet relationship improved and
both countries and Western Europe wanted to further European detente.
Willy Brandt's Ostpolitik led to a resolution of the border issue and paved the way for
Helsinki. Brandt coming into power in 1969 triggered a new phase in European
relations. Without Brandt, the Accords would have been impossible.
Much of the talk and agreement was between Nixon and Brezhnev, it was however
Gerald Ford who signed the agreement in 1975 after succeeding Nixon. Kissinger was
not enthusiastic about the Accords; he is quoted as calling them "a bunch of crappy
A cause and effect link has been argued for the rise of Solidarity in Poland and of
other, similar movements across the former Soviet bloc. "Brezhnev had looked
forward, to the publicity he would gain... when the Soviet public learned of the final
settlement of the post-war boundaries for which they had sacrificed so much'...
'[Instead, the Helsinki Accords] gradually became a manifesto of the dissident and
liberal movement'... What this meant was that the people who lived under these
systems--at least the more courageous--could claim official permission to say what
they thought."[14] Recognition of the right of travel led to 500,000 Soviet Jews
migrating to Israel
Historians regards the fall of the Berlin Wall as a consequence of the accords, since it
allowed journalists from the West to enter East Germany whose reports could then
be heard in the East on West German television and radio
This amounted to a formal end to World War II because the Accords did in fact
recognize the division of Germany and the "sensitive borders between Poland and
East Germany and between Poland and the Soviet Union" as well as other boundaries
in the region." Many of these borders had not been officially recognized since the
end of the war. All this was in exchange for "a Soviet promise to increase trade,
cultural contacts, and the protection of human rights across all Europe."
The Soviets also recognized the status of Berlin, occupied since 1945 by the French,
British and U.S. armies and, radically, agreed to relax travel restrictions between the
two German states. Arguably, the object of reducing tension between the two rival
blocs was achieved. The Soviet Union walked away with almost everything it had
wanted and so did the West. The Accords have been described by both sides as the
"high point of détente."


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