Skip to main content

The 1990 Paris Summit: Words of Wisdom from CSCE Leaders

Back to All Publications

In November 1990 the leaders of the CSCE States met in Paris for their first Summit Meeting since 1975, a meeting that formally ended a nearly half-century of Cold-War confrontation between East and West.* The Paris Summit marked the high point of the 1989–1990 political watershed in Europe—the end of the Cold War—and in a spirit of optimism, the Heads of State or Government signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, a landmark document that embodied the new values and vision of the CSCE community. The Paris Summit also marked the beginning of the institutionalization of the CSCE and its development into the OSCE, reflecting the changes in Europe and the new challenges of the post–Cold War period.

This book contains selected thoughts of the Heads of State or Government at the Paris Summit. The thoughts of these leaders are particularly relevant in terms of democracy and human rights—at the end of the Cold War, democratic revolutions swept across Eastern Europe, bringing freedom to hundreds of millions of people. The peaceful overthrow of repressive Communist regimes was one of the most significant advances for individual rights in the 20th century. The adoption of democratic governments during this period led to the first time in history that the majority of the world’s governments were democracies.

The quotations in this book were drawn from the records of the statements made at the Meeting of the Heads of State or Government of the Participating States of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Official Verbatim Records, November 19–21, 1990. Most of the selections are verbatim transcripts of each speaker’s words; however, editorial changes have been made for readability, and italics have been added in some cases for emphasis. 

View All Publications