Kohl Wants Unification in Early October, Sources Say
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl wants East Germany to dissolve and unite with his country on Oct. 6, one day before East Germany’s founding as a sovereign nation, sources said today.
The preference of Kohl, who has been able to dictate most of the pace of unification, throws yet another date into the politically charged debate over when East Germany should unify.
West German government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kohl wants unity to take place one day before the 41st anniversary of East Germany’s founding as a Communist state on Oct. 7.
The date was proposed by Guenter Krause, Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere’s top aide and the county’s leading unification official. Kohl and de Maiziere are both Christian Democrats who have been battling with the left- leaning Social Democrats in both countries over the timing of unity.
As late as Tuesday, de Maiziere favored that unity take place on Oct. 14, when elections are held to create the five states that East Germany will become in a united nation.
However, East German Social Democrat spokesman Helga Wanke said today that her party rejected the Oct. 6 date. She said the party was standing firm on its insistence that unity take place on Sept. 15.
East Germany will unite by approving a clause in the West Germany Constitution that allows former German lands to accede to the Western nation.
The Social Democrats say they want unity to come in mid-September so that West Germany can more quickly assume direct responsibility for East Germany’s failing economy.
Joblessness has been climbing since East Germany converted to a free market on July 1. But the Social Demcrats also want quick unity so Kohl, they say, will be forced to admit the true costs of bailing out the East German economy.
Both parties are in the midst of a political campaign to lead the united nation. Common German elections are tentatively set for Dec. 2.
An apparent East German agreement to unite on Oct. 14 fell apart Tuesday amid name-calling and growing rancor. The Social Democrats, the nation’s second-largest party, defied their leader and rejected unity on that date.
Richard Schroeder, parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, had agreed to the proposal. He quit his post after his party decided not to accept it.
The conservative Christian Democrats hold the most votes in Parliament and are in the best position to set the date for the historic merger.
De Maiziere’s government has suffered a series of dismissals, resignations and charges of incompetence in the past week. On Sunday, the Social Democrats withdrew from de Maiziere’s governing coalition in a dispute over unification.
Six ministers have resigned or been ousted from the Cabinet in the past week. The chief of the agency set up to sell East Germany’s ailing enterprises resigned amid criticism of his failure to unload the businesses.
Kohl wants to keep unity and electons close together. He lost a bid to have them both held on the same day, Oct. 14, because that required rewriting West Germany’s constitutional timetable to elections.
The East German Parliament must approve unification by a two-thirds majority, but only a simple majority is needed to set a date. All the major parties are committed to unification, but the debate has been reduced to a political brawl over when it should take place.
Many details remain to be worked out.
Fighting between political parties in both Germanys, essentially in the throes of an election campaign, will likely resurface.
How to distribute East German property has been a roadblock to a political treaty that is to mesh the two countries. Some of the property is claimed by West Germans who fled the region after the Soviet onrush late in World War II.