East German Government Divided Over Unification With PM-Germany-Allies, Bjt
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ A rift has developed in East Germany’s first non-Communist government, with a major partner in the fragile coalition accusing leaders of letting West Germany dictate the terms for reunification.
″In the East Berlin Cabinet stands a crack in the house, because we up to now cannot be held responsible for the outcome of the (unification) state treaty,″ Richard Schroeder, head of the Social Democrat faction in Parliament, said Friday.
″I am worried about a break in the axle on the way to unity,″ he said.
Experts from both Germanys met in East Berlin on Friday for ongoing talks on shifting East Germany away from a socialist economy as quickly as possible.
The left-leaning Social Democrats hold important Cabinet posts in the government of Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere. But they have begun distancing themselves from agreements on merging the two economies.
Their latest criticism could put the shaky coalition government in jeopardy.
Although the Social Democrats agreed to join the government of de Maiziere, who leads the conservative Christian Democrats, they complained Friday that the terms of the economic union would create hardships for East Germans.
Social Minister Regine Hildebrandt, a Social Democrat, criticized the decision between the governments to tailor East Germany’s pension program to West Germany’s. She said it would reduce benefits for East Germans.
The economies and social institutions of the two nations are to merge on July 2 as a prelude to full unification next year.
But Social Democrats have become increasingly critical of what they say is a willingness to accept Bonn’s terms and the lack of guarantees to protect East Germans who will give up enormous social subsidies.
De Maiziere, whose party finished first in the March 18 elections, formed a coalition with the Social Democrats to have the two-third Parliament majority needed to make constitutional changes that would make unification possible.
On Sunday, East Germans will vote in local elections. They are expected to remove the last traces of Communist control and put the finishing touches on the social revolution that began a year ago.
The balloting will turn over to local hands the obedient bureaucracies that were carefully controlled by the former hard-line leadership.
The balloting also may provide a gauge of the current mood toward German unification, a process that is speeding toward completion. Talks among the two Germanys and four World War II Allies were being held today in Bonn, West Germany.
More than 12 million voters in 7,800 cities, districts and other municipalities are eligible to vote in the elections. Sixty-two parties and more than a quarter-million candidates are registered to run.
The elections come against a backdrop of widespread protests in recent weeks by East German workers afraid that their factories will close when forced to compete with Western commerce.
However, West Germany says a quick move to a free market will create jobs, raise living standards and eventually eliminate the economic hardships of the early stages of unification.
The two governments agreed on the general terms of an economic union on Wednesday. It would exchange salaries, wages and small savings accounts of East Germans for an equal amount of West German marks.
Wolfgang Tierse, deputy chief of the Social Democrats faction, said his party would not endorse the economic and social treaty that is being negotiated as a basis for unification. He said it would bring ″massive poverty.″