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East German Diplomats Will Have to Look for New Jobs

August 21, 1990

BONN, West Germany (AP) _ The joint work in Albania and Iraq of the two German foreign services, unthinkable a year ago, probably will not happen again. After unification, the East German Foreign Ministry will disappear.

In Baghdad, the East German ministry opened some of the apartments in its compound to about 40 West German workers who fled the Iraqi interior after the invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, officials of the West German Foreign Ministry reported.

They are staying, free of charge, in rooms vacated when East Germany began reducing its diplomatic ranks abroad.

When thousands of Albanians sought refuge at the West German Embassy in Tirana in July as a means of escaping their communist homeland, East Germans helped their Western colleagues with translations and transit paperwork.

The East German Embassy also sent supplies to help the West Germans cope with the crush.

″There’s a great willingness on the personal level to cooperate in a pragmatic way,″ a West German Foreign Ministry spokesman said, on condition of anonymity.

″But on the formal embassy work side, there’s little one can do at the moment, because as long as you’ve got separate East German citizenship, as long as you’ve got different rules in the field of trade and economics, each one has to do his own thing.″

As unification nears, thousands of East German diplomats expect to lose their jobs. The West Germans don’t want them because of their old ties to the Communist Party or even to the secret police, called the Stasi.

″In the East German foreign service, most or nearly all members . . . have at least been (Communist Party) members and a lot of them have had close contacts with the Stasi, and that makes it very difficult for us to imagine having them in our service,″ said a Foreign Ministry source.

East Germany was Moscow’s front line against the West for years and still belongs to the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.

Its secret service was one of the most active in the Soviet bloc, and there is great concern that using East Berlin’s foreign service officers in a united German diplomatic corps would be too risky, even with the Cold War ended.

Sources in Bonn say a few East German diplomats may be kept if they are cleared and have special qualifications.

″We must face the facts,″ Foreign Minister Markus Meckel of East Germany said this month, and acknowledged that most of his diplomats would lose their jobs.

The East German Foreign Ministry has announced plans to cut its roster to about 500 people by year’s end. There were 2,800 employees in March, 1,800 of them overseas.

Eighteen East German embassies and consulates are to close by the end of September, said Hans-Martin Meckel, ministry personnel chief and the foreign minister’s brother.

He said West German occupational experts were studying retraining plans and one option was teaching dismissed government employees to sell insurance in a united, capitalist Germany.

″We can’t simply add these ministries to ours″ with all their staff, said a West German government source. ″These people will have to find new jobs.″

″There will be a lot of new job opportunities, not only in the private sector, but particularly in the new government structures,″ he said.

Skilled bureaucrats will be needed in the five state governments East Germans will create in October elections to mirror the West German federal system, the source added.

Officials of the West German Foreign Ministry have begun an inventory of East German diplomatic properties around the world to determine what should be kept and which facilities can be sold.

East German missions, particularly in Third World or East European countries, may be bigger or better situated than those of West Germany, they say.

″Where they have a building big enough for what we need, there is no ideological reason why we shouldn’t take it,″ said the West German ministry source. ″We will not say, ‘Because communists have been in this building, we won’t touch it’.″

Although experienced East German diplomats may be out of work, West Germany is looking for new ones.

It announced plans to advertise for applicants in East German newspapers with the motto: ″The foreign service is open to all Germans.″

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