TODAY’S TOPIC: Bonn Hopes Geneva Summit Will Boost Ties with East Berlin
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ West German officials looking forward to next month’s superpower summit say a positive meeting between the U.S. and Soviet leaders could boost their own country’s relations with communist East Germany.
Relations between the two Germanys have eased lately and the summit will help determine whether this trend continues or the two countries go back to marking time, the officials said.
A harmonious meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev would expand the possibilities between East and West Germany, they said.
″Just the fact that the leaders of the two alliances are talking creates a good background for more positive developments in intra-German politics,″ said Heinrich Windelen, Minister of Intra-German Relations, in a recent radio interview.
If the Nov. 19-20 summit in Geneva, Switzerland, has a fairly happy ending, it could even help pave the way for a similar summit between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and East German President Erich Honecker, Bonn officials say.
″If there is a positive outcome at Geneva, perhaps it will make it easier for Honecker to make the decision (to visit West Germany),″ government spokesman Herbert Schmuelling told The Associated Press.
″But it would be speculative to say that a good outcome at Geneva would automatically produce that result,″ he cautioned. ″First we must obtain a good result at Geneva, and then we’ll see what the effects are in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).″
The conservative newspaper Die Welt, which has close ties to the Bonn government, said last week such a visit could come as early as December.
Officials in Bonn and East Berlin say that a Honecker visit would carry extraordinary symbolic importance for the two countries divided after World War II.
Moscow pressured Honecker into canceling a trip to West Germany in September 1984, when the Soviet Union was trying to isolate West Germany for permitting NATO to deploy new U.S.-built Pershing 2 nuclear missiles on its soil.
But events since then indicate any damage to relations between the two Germanys was short-lived.
In the past year, there have been several modest steps forward, and even a spate of spy scandals has not soured the atmosphere.
″Talks (with the East Germans) are now going on about a dozen fronts, from traffic to environmental problems, cultural exhanges and trade,″ said Joseph Dolezal, spokesman for the Bonn Ministry of Intra-German Relations.
Among the recent developments:
-Honecker promised last month that the last of the land mines along his side of the border will soon be removed. This could make the communist frontier less bloody, if not more penetrable (a fence has been built a few hundred yards back).
-East Berlin has indicated that as many as 20,000 East Germans who want to move to the West will be given exit visas by the end of 1985, Bonn officials say. That was surpassed only in 1984, when 35,000 were allowed to emigrate (although some now reportedly want to return). East Germany’s population is nearly 17 million, and West Germany’s is about 61 million, according to 1983 estimates.
-Trade between the two Germanys has jumped this year, with West German exports to the East up by 24 percent over 1984 and imports up by 0.1 percent.
-West Germany in July increased the special interest-free ″swing″ credit line available to East Germany to finance deficits in intra-German trade. It will go up from 600 million marks ($226 million) this year to 850 million marks ($300 million) a year over the next five years.
-West Germany agreed to pay 80 percent of repairs on a highway from West Berlin to Bavaria. East Germany agreed to buy 30 million marks ($11 million) worth of West German construction machinery to do the work.
-Negotiations on a cultural exchange agreement and an environmental agreement are under way.
Bonn officials are pleased with these developments. But they stress that the official contacts do not compensate for communist restrictions remaining on contacts between ordinary citizens of East and West Germany.
In a speech Oct. 11, Windelen complained that most East Germans are still not allowed to visit the West until they have retired, a restriction grimly demonstrated by the Berlin Wall.
″The situation now cannot satisfy us. ... We remain obligated to make the results of the division as tolerable as possible,″ he said.