Helsinki in July–August 1975 was anomalous among Cold War summits. Unlike other meetings in this book, it was a multilateral undertaking involving thirty-five governments. The summit itself was a set-piece after a three-year preparatory process. Its outcome, the Helsinki Final Act, included de facto ratification of the 1945 territorial settlement, which was the Soviets’ main objective. But it also proved a turning point in the Cold War because it enshrined, on Western European insistence, basic precepts of human rights and freedom of movement—a more dynamic conception of détente than the Soviet status quo approach. The latter would underpin reform movements in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. Understanding how Helsinki yielded such unexpected results requires examination of how allies and clients of the superpowers, especially in Western Europe, were able to influence the summit, steering the multilateral dialogue towards conclusions that neither superpower had intended or desired.
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