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Germany May Trim Foreign Aid To Discourage Excessive Military Spending

August 4, 1991

BONN, Germany (AP) _ Germany is considering trimming aid to developing nations that give higher priority to military concerns than social spending,

a newspaper reported Sunday.

But the plan was said to have caused a rift in the government.

Carl-Dieter Spranger, federal minister for economic cooperation, wants to make the amount of aid promised to developing lands contingent on the size of their military outlays, the Berliner Morgenpost reported.

He said under the plan, the German government, instead of providing blanket assistance for developing lands, would give assistance for defined projects.

″Uses of the money will be continually checked. Arms projects will in no way be financed,″ he reportedly said.

Spranger said that while considering a country’s request for aid, Germany would examine that nation’s record on human rights, treatment of minorities, and commitment to democratic ideals.

According to the newspaper, Spranger said his ministry is working on a ″criteria catalog″ which would be used to evaluate how much assistance a developing nation deserves.

″For example, we could consider the ratio of military outlays of a recipient land to its total budget, or of the military budget to the education and social budget, or compare arms outlays of states within a region,″ he said.

He urged that other industrial nations take a similar approach.

″Naturally we can have only a limited effect as a single state,″ Spranger said. ″We must work toward international coordination. If other lands ... compensate for the loss of German help ... nothing would have been achieved.″ But there are signs of serious disagreement among government officials over the proposal.

Die Welt, a conservative Bonn-based newspaper, reported Friday that Spranger has proposed dropping capital aid to India from $226 million annually to $171 million. Germany’s foreign and economic ministries only want the aid cut to $208 million, the newspaper said.

Die Welt said Spranger wants to extend no capital aid to Syria next year, but that Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher is proposing $14 million.

Spranger is feuding with government colleagues over aid to other nations as well, said Die Welt.

German news media have reported that some government officials are worried that drastic aid cuts could lessen Germany’s ability to influence positive developments in Third World nations.

Germany is a major aid-giver for many developing countries including India, Pakistan, Jordan, and a host of African nations.

But with revelations over the past three years that German firms helped build the military machines of Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, India and others, there has been growing pressure on the government to do more to make sure Third World countries develop peacefully.

The Social Democrats, Germany’s main opposition party, have questioned the government’s sincerity in wanting to use aid to encourage Third World countries to choose books, food and medicine over guns.

Social Democrat Hans Wallow, a leading Parliament member, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government has so far shown a ″gulf between talk and action.″

Wallow said recent German aid to Syria and Jordan has ″made possible for those countries oversized weapons purchases in France, the United States and Czechoslovakia.″

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