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Poland To Propose New Trading Pact To Replace Comecon

February 27, 1991

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Poland has approved plans to dissolve the ailing Eastern trade bloc and is preparing proposals to replace it, officials said.

Foreign Trade Minister Dariusz Ledworowski said Tuesday that March 15 is a possible date for a meeting to dissolve the Soviet-led group, known as Comecon, and deciding about future economic cooperation in Eastern Europe.

The Polish Council of Ministers at its weekly session Tuesday approved plans to dissolve the Soviet-led trading organization. The council also rejected an idea to form a new trade group that would include countries from outside Eastern European.

Comecon was set up in Moscow in January 1949 to create a protected marketplace for the closed Communist economies that emerged after World War II.

But the group has been battered by the economic changes of its East European members in the wake of their democratic revolutions.

Comecon has essentially been without a purpose since the beginning of the year, when member countries began conducting trade in hard currency. Much of Comecon’s time had been spent settling accounts between countries without convertible currencies.

Besides Poland, the group includes Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mongolia, Cuba, Vietnam and the Soviet Union. East Germany was also a member until German unification Oct. 3.

During a session Jan. 5 in Moscow, member nations agreed to disband Comecon. A special committee prepared a proposal to reform Comecon into a market-oriented organization, including the same members.

However, Ledworowski said Poland would present plans for new ″organizational forms″ to replace the economic alliance.

″Most of all we support all forms of regional cooperation in Europe, which at the same time will be linked with our basic aim - joining Europe,″ he said.

Ledworowski said Poland is interested in new forms of cooperation within the former East bloc and rejected the proposal to include Vietnam, Cuba and Mongolia.

Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia favor a rather loose structure for a new organization - if any at all.

The Soviets and some other members prefer a new formal organization to coordinate the remnants of Comecon trade.

Government spokesman Andrzej Zarebski said Poland would present its proposals at the March meeting of Comecon permanent representatives in Moscow.

A summit to dissolve the bloc, originally set for Wednesday and Thursday in Budapest, has been postponed indefinitely, Hungarian officials said.

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