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Herder Pledges Peace; Warns of Miscalculation

November 10, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ East German Ambassador Gerhard Herder said Friday his country would be a ″predictable partner″ of the West in maintaining peace but warned that any miscalculation in reacting to the liberalization of his homeland could lead to conflict.

Herder noted that armed forces of three allies are stationed in Berlin - the United States, Britain and France.

″By any miscalculation, they could be involved. This could lead to a conflict,″ he said in a speech at the National Press Club.

The Soviet Union also has troops in Berlin, and the city itself lies more than 100 miles inside East Germany and the East German and Soviet forces of the Warsaw Pact.

″I don’t want to hide before you that these developments are very dangerous. They could lead, if they get out of control, to bigger conflicts.″

Herder said President Bush’s reaction to the events in Berlin was ″encouraging″ and said he hoped the changes in his country would open up a new phase in relations with the United States.

″My country has always been in the forefront″ of efforts to maintain stability in Central Europe and intends to remain ″a predictable partner″ of the West in that effort.

His government’s decision to grant freedom of travel is irreversible: ″If there are still people who believe the changes are cosmetic, they are victims of an outlived era of suspicion and mistrust.″

He was asked whether he could foresee a unified Germany.

″In my dreams, yes. But being a politician, I don’t see any prospect for a united Germany,″ Herder said, because East and West Germany are ″integrated into military alliances guaranteeing a stable balance of power″ in Europe.

Asked whether the December meeting between Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev would decide German reunification, Herder said, ″I don’t think it’s a matter to be decided by Mr. Bush and Mr. Gorbachev″ but rather a matter to be decided by the people of the two Germanies.

Asked whether he could envisage a crackdown similar to that by Chinese authorities against pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last June, Herder said, ″I exclude it personally and I can tell you″ the East German government is committed to ″solve all problems by political means.″

Asked whether the Berlin Wall would come down, he replied, ″We should have no illusions and not be led by euphoria.″

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