EAST EUROPE has formally recognized that the Western economic model is the one to follow. In Bonn today, the 35 nations of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) wrap up a three-week discussion of economic issues in East and West Europe.
The delegates, who represent the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union, and all the nations of Europe except Albania, approved a final document this week that recognizes the link between a pluralistic, multiparty democracy and an efficient, market-driven economy.
When it was decided last year to hold this conference, ``there were still serious disagreements between East and West, whereas these have now largely, and in certain respects, completely, disappeared,'' said Piet Bukman, minister of foreign trade for the Netherlands.
This is the first time that economic issues have been taken up in the Helsinki process, as CSCE is also known, since the Helsinki Accords were signed in 1975. Security and human rights (the act's other two themes, referred to as baskets) have had the spotlight instead.
Although most of the delegates, which included businesspeople as well as government representatives, were pleased with the extent of good will at the conference, it was not without snags.
The United States introduced a set of ``principles'' to the document which met with Soviet resistance, according to a Soviet delegate, who asked not to be named. Some of them, such as the emphasis on democratic pluralism, went beyond the economic mandate of the conference, in the Soviet view. Other principles, said the delegate, did not apply to the Soviets. The right to private property, for instance, is not in the Soviet Constitution.
In the end, the US points were no longer called principles. They were condensed, and several - such as pricing based on supply and demand; free flow of trade, capital, and investment; and the right to private property - were listed as points ``to achieve or maintain.''
The document is not legally binding, but ``it is a powerful moral and political force,'' which can be used by government, business, and citizens to bring reform, said Alan Holmer, head of the US delegation.
The document is a broad-based communiqu'e that endorses economic cooperation between the states and outlines the kind of monetary and legal framework to support this. Special attention was also given to environmentally sound methods of production, especially for energy. But the details of applying the Western economic model were not taken up.
A full report of the conference will be given at the next CSCE summit, expected to take place in the late fall. The extent of follow-up will have to be decided at the summit. Already a debate is raging about ``institutionalizing'' CSCE - giving it a secretariat, a home office, a structure. It has none of these at present.
Some Europeans also suggest that CSCEwould be an ideal framework for a new security structure in Europe to replace NATO and the Warsaw Pact.