A proposal originating with French prime minister Edouard Balladur in June 1993, the Pact on Stability in Europe was an important initiative by the European Union, in the spirit of preventative diplomacy, to help stabilise relations among, and promote cooperation between, the countries of the former Warsaw Pact which, in the words of the French government, ‘may eventually be associated to varying degrees with the European Union’. It was designed to encourage central and eastern European countries, which were looking westwards in the hope of future enlargement, to maintain close mutual relations and continue to work together on sensitive issues. Most notably, it was designed to offer a framework in which they might attempt to resolve border disputes, address problems of minorities and develop relations with Russia in a post-Soviet era.
The idea of a pact was endorsed at an inaugural conference held in Paris on 26-27 May 1994, where the signatory states – mostly members of the (then) Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) – aimed to ‘create a climate of confidence … favourable to the strengthening of democracy, to respect for human rights and to economic progress and peace’. Emphasis was laid on neighbouring signatory states resolving disputes bilaterally and exploring new forms of cooperation. The Paris declaration provided for two ‘regional round tables’, one for the Baltic states and the other for the countries of central and eastern Europe. The Pact was formally signed by 52 countries on 21 March 1995, establishing ‘an area of lasting good-neighbourliness and cooperation in Europe’. It did not set up any new institutions, with responsibility for follow-up activities entrusted to the CSCE’s successor, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). As Balladur made his proposal for a pact within the European Union framework, the initiative was one of the first joint actions taken under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The Union offered its services as a ‘moderator’, if so desired, in the case of problems that might prove difficult to resolve bilaterally. The Pact was welcomed by Russia at the time as a continuation of work already undertaken in the CSCE context. See also Charter of Paris, Partnership for Peace.
Copyright: Anthony Teasdale, 2012
Citation: The Penguin Companion to European Union (2012), additional website entry