PARIS, NOV. 21 -- President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev joined the leaders of Europe today in declaring an end to "the era of confrontation and division in Europe" and promised "a new era of democracy, peace and unity" for the continent that launched the 20th century's two world wars.

Gorbachev's signature on the Charter of Paris adopted at the end of the 34-nation pan-European summit represents the first Soviet commitment in an important international document to holding free and fair elections on a regular basis and encouraging free enterprise at home.

In his speech formally closing the three-day conference, French President Francois Mitterrand warned his fellow leaders that only by avoiding "a new division between haves and have-nots" on the continent will future conflict be avoided.

His remarks echoed the new emphasis on economic development and the environment in the 20-page charter adopted by the second summit meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. The first CSCE summit, held in 1975 in Helsinki, was driven by the tensions of the Cold War and the division of Europe between competing ideologies.

But the gathering here of 11 presidents and 27 prime ministers from all the nations of Europe, except Albania, plus the United States and Canada, underscored how the sudden collapse of communist rule over the past 18 months has changed Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

At the 1975 conference, the Soviet Union successfully pushed for the recognition of the borders that emerged from World War II as Europe's permanent frontiers. In return, the West insisted that the Soviet Bloc nations permit the exercise of fundamental human rights within their countries.

The failure of the old Soviet approach to "stability" was underlined by the absence at this week's gathering of East Germany, which disappeared with German unification Oct. 3. The detailed and sweeping commitments to free elections and other democratic freedoms undertaken by the former Soviet satellites of Eastern Europe and the Soviets here in Paris also graphically demonstrated how the old Helsinki process has been overtaken by events.

A major function of CSCE has now become ensuring that the Soviet Union and the new democracies of Eastern Europe are not excluded from the political and economic progress that Western Europe has made in recent years. This was indicated by the wording of the charter and of remarks at press briefings by some of the leaders at the conference.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney disclosed that Canada has opened discussions with the Soviet Union about a lengthy list of food supplies the Soviets urgently need to get through "a difficult winter." Mulroney said the Soviets insisted that they would pay, but he indicated that Canada would offer generous financing terms.

German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher indicated that Germany would support an emergency $1 billion aid package for the Soviets to be considered at the European Community summit in Rome in December.

Most of the details contained in the Charter of Paris providing for a small secretariat in Prague, a conflict prevention center in Vienna and a free-elections committee in Warsaw had been previously reported.

The United States, wary of early attempts to turn CSCE into an organization that would provide security guarantees for its members and eclipse the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, succeeded in keeping these embryonic CSCE institutions small and limited in scope.

The charter's section on security endorses a deadline for a new arms-reduction agreement between NATO and the Warsaw Pact on conventional forces in Europe. After praising the 22-nation arms accord signed here Monday, the leaders called for the completion of a new treaty by the next CSCE summit, scheduled for Helsinki in 1992.

The CSCE foreign ministers will begin meeting annually in Berlin next year and will style themselves as the CSCE Council, an apparent reference to the European Community's procedure of holding regular ministerial meetings that are given decision-making powers on community matters.

While President Bush appeared to spend most of his time and energy at the summit working on the Persian Gulf crisis and Gorbachev was clearly absorbed with what he warned the conference were the dangers of "the Balkanization or Lebanization" of entire regions of Europe, Mitterrand, Kohl and others underscored CSCE's role in dealing with, in Mitterrand's words, "economy, environment, standard of living -- these are the things people expect us to address."

"Freedom and political pluralism are necessary elements in our common objective of developing market economies toward sustainable economic growth, prosperity {and} social justice," the leaders declared, promising to cooperate with "the transition to market economy" by Moscow and its former satellites.

"We are convinced that our overall economic cooperation should be expanded, free enterprise encouraged and trade increased and diversified," the charter specifies in another section. Environment, energy-resource development and cultural and education exchanges also are discussed in the document.

The failure of the conference to issue a Transatlantic Declaration, as had been predicted by Italy and some other delegations, proved, however, that conflict has not been totally banished from the European scene.

The release of the declaration, a statement of principles about relations between the United States and the European Community, had been proposed by Germany to highlight the continuing U.S. role in Europe. But this was blocked by France, which apparently feared it would detract from the more general purpose of the conference, diplomatic sources said. The declaration is now due to be released in Rome early next week.