The European Security Conference -- expected to last at least three months -- has opened in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to review progress on the 1975 Helsinki 'human rights' agreement.
The European Security Conference -- expected to last at least three months -- has opened in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, to review progress on the 1975 Helsinki 'human rights' agreement. The conference, which is basically about East-West detente, began on Tuesday (4 October). On the same day, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev told a special session of the Supreme Soviet in Moscow that 'human rights' in the Western world were nothing more than the 'right' to enjoy unemployment and expensive medical aid, and to live in fear of organised crime.
SYNOPSIS: The Belgrade meeting is being held in the Yugoslav capital's new riverside Sava conference centre, and is being attended by junior ministers and ambassadors of 33 European nations and the United States and Canada. The first four days were due to be taken up with individual national policy statements. The conference is scheduled to last until at least December the 22nd, and will probably resume in mid-january for another month. The Soviet Union originally opposed the length of it, fearing this could lead to a damaging East-West row over human rights, according to a news report from Belgrade. Since the Helsinki agreement, to which the Soviet Union was a signatory, Mr. Brezhnev's government has come under fierce internal and external criticism for contravening it in several respects -- especially in the human rights field.
The conference opened with a message from President Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, read out on his behalf, in which he complained of slow progress so far in implementing the Helsinki agreement. He urged the Belgrade conference to make "even greater efforts" in fulfilling the promises then made. Another message, from United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim, told delegates they faced 'a dual challenge'. These were not only to consolidate peace in Europe, but to contribute to economic progress and disarmament on a global scale.