Trump to meet Putin tomorrow in Helsinki: What are Helsinki Accords?
Helsinki, July 15: US President Donald Trump will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for their first-ever summit here in the capital of Helsinki on Monday, July 16. This will be Trump's third stop in his current tour of Europe during which he had controversial and combative stints at the Nato and UK.
Helsinki has been a prominent meeting spot of the US and Russia and its predecessor Soviet Union, especially in the Cold War era for its strategic location between the then 'West' and 'East'.
It was also in this Nordic capital that the Helsinki Accords were signed on August 1, 1975, at the conclusion of the first Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (now called the OSCE or Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe).
The Helsinki Accords were made mainly to reduce tension between the Western blocs and the then Soviet Union by securing their common acceptance of the post-Second World War status quo in Europe.
The Helsinki Accords were signed by all European countries barring Albania which became its signatory in 1991 and the US and Canada. The pact recognised that the post-World War II frontiers in Europe were inviolable and all the 35 nations that signed it pledged to respect the human rights and fundamental freedoms besides cooperating on various areas. The accords, however, are not binding and do not have a treaty status.
After the former Soviet Union sought it since the 1950s, a European security meeting was proposed by the now-defunct Warsaw Pact in 1966 and it was accepted by the Nato. Preparatory talks started at the ambassadorial level began in Helsinki in 1972 and an agenda concerning questions like European peace; cooperation in fields like economics, science, technology, cultural and humanitarian fields, etc.
In July 1973, following a meeting of the foreign ministers, committees met in Geneva, Switzerland, to draft an agreement and the process lasted till July 1975.
The accords were key for both sides' interests. While the Soviet Union eyed a sort of recognition of its post-war hegemony in eastern Europe through the guarantees of the frontiers' inviolability, the US and its West European allies put pressure on Moscow to show commitment on issues like human rights; betterment of contacts between eastern and western Europe and free flow of information.
The Final Act which was signed in Helsinki kept in mind both the positions.