An illustration in some editions Sunday misidentified Ireland as a NATO member and failed to identify Denmark as a member of the alliance. (Published 11/20/90)

PARIS -- The Cold War will be buried formally on Monday when the leaders of the United States, Canada and every European nation except Albania gather here to toast a new epoch of East-West harmony.

The script has been carefully crafted and no surprises are expected in the formal sessions of the 34-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). In many respects, the three-day summit is an anticlimax to the democratic revolution that swept Eastern Europe last year, an assembly where leaders will merely ratify what already has happened in the streets and voting booths.

But the historical impact is immense. For the first time since the 1815 Congress of Vienna redrew the map of Europe after the Napoleonic Wars, all nations with a stake in the continent's destiny will seek to chart a new course of cooperation instead of confrontation, of consensus instead of conflict.

The CSCE summit will begin, appropriately enough, with the members of the two rival military blocs pledging to refrain from the threat or use of force against each other. The nonaggression pact will be backed up by the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which will reduce the number of tanks, artillery and other non-nuclear weapons that symbolized the 45-year military stalemate in Central Europe.

"It will be the most important disarmament accord ever signed, because of the number of countries and amount of weaponry involved," said Hubert Vedrine, French President Francois Mitterrand's spokesman and adviser on strategic affairs. "It also eliminates once and for all the threat of a surprise conventional attack in Europe."

Later the CSCE leaders, whose last summit in Helsinki in 1975 was bemoaned by critics as securing Soviet hegemony over Eastern Europe, will enshrine free elections, free markets and respect for human rights as the basic foundations of their governments.

A small CSCE secretariat will be established in Prague and a Conflict Prevention Center will be set up in Vienna. The two offices will organize annual meetings of foreign ministers and biennial summit sessions of the 34 leaders. Legislators from member nations will also meet occasionally to discuss and pass non-binding resolutions.

The success of the CSCE, also known as the Helsinki process, has stirred enthusiasm across the continent as the blueprint for what Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev has called "a common European home" to replace the obsolescent military blocs represented by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact.

The transformation of the European security landscape has been seen by many, including Gorbachev, as vindication of his "new thinking" in international affairs and an important extension of his perestroika reforms at home.

More than four decades of military and technological competition with the West had put the Soviet Union in a strategically dangerous and financially crippling situation. But the unification of Europe and the end of the arms race have offered Gorbachev an opportunity to repair his country's broken economy and elicit greater assistance from the West.

But the CSCE's rapid evolution into what many European leaders are calling the most important forum of the post-Cold War era has raised suspicions in Washington that its newfound stature will diminish U.S. influence in Europe, particularly if NATO's role is downgraded in response to the vanishing military threat from the East.

The consecration of a united Germany -- another purpose of next week's summit -- will introduce a new superpower in Central Europe, one with its own priorities. While Chancellor Helmut Kohl has vowed to instill fresh momentum into the European Community's drive toward political and economic union, Bonn's recently signed treaty of friendship with Moscow and the proximity of new East European economic markets are likely to turn much of Germany's attention eastward.

German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, while proclaiming his allegiance to the Western alliance, has left little doubt that he envisions the CSCE framework, with a strong and prosperous Germany at its heart, gradually displacing an American-dominated NATO as the central forum for managing the future of Europe.

The revamped relations among the United States, the Soviet Union and Germany seem likely to shape the CSCE's agenda. But several European diplomats have predicted that the waning of the Soviet military challenge and a new set of European security worries, especially concerning immigration, also will signal a more peripheral U.S. role.

Government leaders in Western Europe have voiced alarm over the turmoil that could arise in the event of economic collapse in Eastern Europe and North Africa. They fear that their societies could be destabilized if massive waves of immigrants flee poverty and hunger at home for the jobs, consumer goods and social benefits of the West.

Those worries are likely to be reflected in calls by several leaders at the summit for new economic and security initiatives for the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe.

Spain and Italy have already launched a "mini-CSCE" that is designed to reduce the size of foreign navies in the Mediterranean while improving trade and aid programs with North African states so their populations will not be tempted to emigrate. That approach is expected to win endorsement by other leaders at the CSCE summit, including the Soviet Union. But the United States remains skeptical of any effort to curtail the activities of its large Mediterranean fleet, which fulfills critical functions in the Middle East, such as the defense of Israel, as well as in southern Europe.

West European governments are pressing not only for the fulfillment of existing programs of economic assistance for Eastern Europe but also for new, longer-term commitments to help the Soviet Union. One plan, conceived by Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, calls for a major European effort to assist the Soviets in exploiting their untapped oil and gas reserves. The Soviet Union is estimated to possess 7 percent of the world's oil and 40 percent of its natural gas.

Nearly a decade ago, plans for a Soviet-European gas pipeline erupted into a major transatlantic dispute when the Reagan administration warned the European allies that they could become dangerously dependent on the Soviets for their energy supplies. But the current plan to develop and market Soviet gas and oil reserves is seen as a promising source of hard currency for the Soviets and dependable fuel supplies for West Europeans, whose energy costs have been pushed up by the Persian Gulf crisis.

U.S. officials said the Bush administration is prepared to support such an effort, particularly because American expertise in oil exploration is more advanced than Europe's. U.S. assistance for Soviet oil drilling is already well established through the efforts of such Russophiles as Armand Hammer, the former chief of Occidental Petroleum whose friendly relations with Soviet leaders stretch back to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin.

Nonetheless, American officials stressed that the volatile situation in the Soviet Union should make Germany and other European allies more cautious about dispensing with NATO in favor of an amorphous grouping of 34 nations that can only operate by consensus.

"What happens if at some point Gorbachev is replaced by somebody like {Russian President Boris} Yeltsin, and then later you get a military hard-liner who takes power in reaction to a Yeltsin?" speculated a senior American envoy. "It would be very hard to resurrect the NATO alliance."

French officials have also expressed anxiety about reports that the Soviet military is preserving much of its conventional firepower by moving tanks and other weaponry behind the Ural Mountains, beyond the area addressed by the conventional forces treaty to be signed at the CSCE summit.

"The quantity of weaponry the Soviets have been moving is tremendous," said a senior French official. "It is important to remember that much of that firepower will be preserved and not destroyed. What is moved behind those mountains can always be moved back again."