As the process of détente gradually warmed relations between the two Cold War blocs, the time was finally ripe for a high-level rapprochement between the nations of East and West - a Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE).
After several months of preparatory talks, the CSCE opened in Helsinki in July 1973 with a meeting of Foreign Ministers. Almost two years of intense negotiations between the two sides on the text of an accord - the Helsinki Final Act - followed.
With the signing of the Act by 35 Heads of State in August 1975, a historic step forward had been taken. East and West were still divided, but mutual understanding was much greater, human rights issues were on the table, and a forum for permanent dialogue - the CSCE - had been created.