At the meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in Moscow in September 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the old Soviet Union, in his opening speech, raised the problem of minority rights in the newly emerging States of Eastern Europe and the Baltics. With the movement of the many different ethnic groups throughout the former Soviet Union since 1917, the rush to independence by the various republics creates new and, in many cases, substantial minority groups. The violence seen in Azerbaijan between Azeris and Armenians may presage events throughout Europe if care is not taken to protect minority rights. Often through naïveté or in a blatant attempt to stir up national fervour in the new State, the delicate task of defusing ethnic frictions in the creation of open, stable and successful societies is being mishandled. The crisis is sufficient for the Council of Europe to have deferred the applications for membership of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia while their constitutional provisions for minority groups are examined. The former Eastern bloc States are in a period of transition as old nationalisms buried by Stalinism are reawakened – the issue of minority groups within States created out of the collapse of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires has taken on fresh life.