East-West Economic Cooperation-Basket II-Helsinki Final ActThursday, January 13, 1977
Our immediate business is to look at Basket IT, whose scope is greater than mere questions of trade and commerce, because in many ways politics is economics. Basket IT was designed to enhance economic cooperation among CSCE states in a way to loosen restraints inhibiting dealings between the Soviet bloc and the West. The hearing will offer suggestions on resolving problems of trade with eastern CSCE states; and how the U.S. Government deals with Basket II problems and how it can improve the overall trade picture by exploiting Basket II provisions in order to bolster East-West trade initiatives.
Conference on Security and Cooperation in EuropeTuesday, May 06, 1975
In July 1973 the Foreign Ministers of 33 European countries and the United States opened the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), in Helsinki. Since then the participants have made slow but steady progress on a broad range of security, political, economic and other issues of mutual concern. As the conference reaches what appears to be a conclusive stage interest in its eventual outcome has mounted both in Congress and throughout the Nation: Special concern has been expressed over the implications the Conference may have for such issues as human rights in Eastern Europe, the division of Germany, U.S. force levels in Europe, and the future of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
The Russian Federation (Russia) is physically the largest country in the world, covering 6.6 million square miles and nine time zones over its 6,000 mile length. Its population of about 147.5 million includes more than 100 ethnic groups, the current majority of whom are Slavic. Once an underdeveloped, peasant society, Russia made considerable economic progress under Communist rule, mainly by the force of a centralized command economy and basic industrialization.
As the successor to the Soviet Union, Russia traces its membership in the OSCE back to the organization’s roots in the Cold War and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, which was originally a Soviet bloc-led initiative. The collapse of communism and Soviet rule in 1991 forced Russia into a difficult transition toward a democratic state and market-based economy. That transition continues today, with a constitutional approach to governance that was initially well-defined and democratic in concept, if not in practice, suffering a series of setbacks. As a result, Russia has eliminated much of the space for civil society and free media, reduced access to justice, and imposed severe restraints on political pluralism.
Today, Russia is failing repeatedly to live up to its commitments of the 1975 Helsinki Act, such as respecting territorial integrity, refraining from the treat or use of force, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, or fulfilling obligations under international law.
The Helsinki Commission is particularly concerned about Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and deeply disturbed by Russia’s culture of legal impunity that has resulted in unsolved murders of activists, whistleblowers, and opposition politicians such as Sergei Magnitsky and Boris Nemstov. The Commission played a central role in drafting the 2012 Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions of Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s murder, as well as other human rights abuses and corruption. In October 2015, the Commission held a hearing to shed light on Russia’s violations of the rule of law across all three dimensions of the OSCE: security, economic, and human rights, including Russia’s abrogation of arms control commitments, illegal expropriation of international investments, and cross-border kidnapping and unjust imprisonment of non-Russian citizens.
Staff Contact: Rachel Bauman, policy advisor