The Warsaw Pact Campaign for "European Security"

by A. Ross Johnson


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A European Security Conference (ESC) was first proposed by the USSR in 1954-1955 as part of an effort to block the rearmament of West Germany. In 1969-1970, just as in the 1966-1967 phase of the ESC campaign, the Soviet leadership seemed to be motivated by the desire to gain political and diplomatic leverage to consolidate its control over Eastern Europe, to exploit frictions within NATO, and reduce American influence in Western Europe. However, the ESC proposal became an instrument that individual Warsaw Pact member states used for the pursuit of autonomous policies. Romania and Poland exploited the campaign to strengthen their independence. East Germany unsuccessfully sought to use it to preserve something of the old unyielding Warsaw Pact stance toward Bonn. Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria played more passive roles in the campaign. Professed Soviet interest in regional disarmament has declined, as a consequence of the enhanced internal security role of Soviet forces in Eastern Europe.

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