Courtesy Reuters

Insecurity and Cooperation: Yugoslavia and the Balkans


The fruits of détente in Europe are now being gathered. West German Chancellor Willy Brandt has completed his triad of treaties with former enemies in Moscow, Warsaw and East Berlin, The accord on West Berlin has confirmed that city's status and removed it, for the present at least, as a possible flashpoint of war. President Richard Nixon has made his voyage to Moscow to proclaim with the Soviet leaders a new era in Soviet-American relations, on which the return visit now sets its seal. Visions of sugarplums dance in the heads of Soviet planners and Western businessmen. Détente, of course, does not have the same purposes for all concerned, and some may find its fruits bitter or the sugarplums unripe. Nevertheless, as all prepare to sit down together in Helsinki at a conference on security and coöperation, the cold war seems far away.

These agreements, with all due reservations on the Western side, have the effect of nailing down the status quo-recognizing the consequences of the Second World War, as the Soviet pronouncements put it-in the central part of the continent. Basically they provide a settlement of the problems which have been at the heart of the 25-year tension of the cold war. Many uncertainties remain, of course, for the dynamism of politics on both sides of the East-West line will continue. Yet neither concern for the future nor legitimate skepticism about the present should overshadow what Brandt, Nixon and Soviet Party chief Brezhnev have done. Negotiations have produced agreements. Coöperation is developing. The main front in Central Europe is being stabilized.

Almost unnoticed is the contrast with the area to the south, where the Soviet security system has undergone serious erosion over the years. There the Kremlin's policies have been more flexible, and also less predictable. Why was it that the Soviets, who reacted firmly and with force in East Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and would have done so

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