creation in 1973, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in
Europe (CSCE) - since renamed the Organisation on Security and Cooperation
in Europe or OSCE - worked to strengthen democracy and enhance security
in Europe. A CSCE Follow-up Meeting in Vienna, from November 1986
to January 1989, establishes a system of continuous monitoring of
accords on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
launches two new sets of negotiations: talks on Conventional Armed
Forces in Europe (CFE) would seek to lower levels of conventional
armaments and equipment among the 23 members of NATO and the Warsaw
Pact; separate negotiations among all 35 CSCE participants would
be held on Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs) which,
the NATO allies proposed, should seek a detailed exchange of information
on military structures and on planned weapons deployments.
decision to open the new CFE talks, the states which had sought
in Vienna to achieve Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions, agreed
to conclude these negotiations. They held their last meeting in
Secretary Gorbachev's liberalisation programme in the Soviet Union,
freedom comes at last to Eastern Europe.
February 1989, the Central Committee of the Hungarian Communist
Party endorses a 'gradual and steady' transition to a multiparty
political system, and elections are later scheduled for 1990.
1989, the Polish Government and Opposition agree on major political
reforms, including free elections and the recognition of the banned
Solidarity trade union. In July, General Jaruzelski, the General
Secretary of the ruling Polish United Workers Party (PUWP), is elected
executive President. He unsuccessfully tries to secure a 'grand
coalition' government of all parties in the parliament, led by the
PUWP, but Solidarity insists on forming a coalition with other pro-democracy
parties. On 24 August, the reformer Tadeusz Mazowiecki is elected
Prime Minister of the first Polish non-communist government in 40
By the autumn
of 1989, East Germany is in deep political crisis. Thousands demonstrate
almost daily throughout the country.
On 6 November,
popular demands for rapid and radical change reach a climax when
over 100,000 protesters call for the Berlin Wall to come down. The
following day, the East German Cabinet resigns and this is followed
by the joint resignation of the ruling Politburo. Then, on 9 November,
the Wall is breached and swarms of East German citizens cross the
border to be given a jubilant welcome in the West. East Germany
announces the lifting of travel restrictions and sets up new crossing
The fall of the Berlin Wall signals a period of great revolutionary
change. Before long, the East European countries will gain their
complete independence; Germany will be unified ; the Warsaw Pact
will be disbanded; and the Soviet Union itself will disintegrate.
Communism, as a global ideology, passes into history.
1989. Signs of major change are evident across Europe. Meetings
take place once more at the Summit level. NATO leaders assemble
in Brussels at the same time as Warsaw Pact leaders get together
in Moscow. Fresh from his meeting with Soviet President Gorbachev
in Malta two days previously, US President Bush is in Brussels to
share with other NATO leaders his impressions of the future course
of events in Central and Eastern Europe. While he is doing so, Warsaw
Pact leaders, meeting in Moscow, denounce the action of their predecessors
in invading Czechoslovakia in 1968 and repudiate the Brezhnev Doctrine
of limited sovereignty, used since the time of the invasion to justify
Soviet control over political developments in Eastern Europe.
Eastern Europe reach a new pitch in the last weeks of the decade.
The communist government of President Husak in Czechoslovakia yields
to a coalition intent on establishing democracy. Bulgaria's communist
government follows suit.
the most corrupt and sinister of Eastern European regimes falls
and its leader, Nicolai Ceaucescu, is summarily executed. Before
the year is out the communist government of Poland has also relinquished
its hold on power and Czechoslovakia has elected a former dissident,
a poet and an international folk hero, as its President.
In the midst
of these events Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardenadze's visit
to NATO makes history of another kind. On departing, side by side
with NATO's Secretary General Manfred Wrner, he informs the assembled
world's press with a broad smile that he has been "to the mouth
of the volcano" and that "it wasn't too bad".