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Regional Outlook : Drinking a Toast to Europe's Future : Leaders of 34 nations will meet in Paris next week. Times correspondents in key capitals report on their hopes and fears for the Continent.

November 13, 1990|MICHAEL PARKS

MOSCOW — For the Soviet Union, the Paris summit is a diplomatic triumph of immense importance, securing a place for it in Europe's "new political order" and demonstrating the effectiveness of President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's diplomacy.

Moscow, which originally proposed the meeting, sees it as celebrating the end of the division of Europe, and Gorbachev is already describing it as shaping the 21st Century "through peace rather than war, in friendship and cooperation rather than confrontation."

The Soviet Union sees the decisions of the Paris summit as providing it with the international environment it needs to deal with its rapidly disintegrating economy, an acute political struggle over its own future and the likely secession of several of its constituent republics.

Politically, military cutbacks to be formalized in Paris will help reassure a conservative nation of its security; economically, they will free substantial resources for what Gorbachev hopes will be a huge "peace dividend."

Under Gorbachev, the Soviet Union has promoted the development of European security and cooperation as a way to assure itself a place in the Continent's increasingly integrated economy as well as a surer safeguard for Soviet interests than even its military power could provide.

Paris, for Gorbachev, will be the diplomatic event of the year, justifying in visible gains what his critics here charged were losses--notably the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the withdrawal of the Soviet army from that once-important buffer zone. As the new Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Gorbachev will be able to bask in the credit he will receive for many of Europe's dramatic changes.

The Soviet Union hopes, moreover, to see the CSCE develop into a new security system for Europe, gradually supplanting NATO and the Warsaw Pact with a Continent-wide approach rather than opposing alliances.

This new "European confederation," a senior Soviet official said--borrowing a phrase from French President Francois Mitterrand in preference to Gorbachev's metaphor of the "common European home"--will be made up of countries that are "active democracies, market economies and promoters of social justice."

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