German Officials Meet to Prepare For Reunification Talks
EAST BERLIN (AP) _ Officials from the two Germanys met Friday to prepare for international talks that will plot a course for reunification while trying to overcome problems rooted in decades of distrust.
The private meeting was the first stage of negotiations that ultimately are to involve leaders from East and West Germany and the four victorious World War II Allies - the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France.
Ernst Krabatsch, East Germany’s deputy foreign minister, met with Dieter Kastrup, head of the political department at West Germany’s Foreign Ministry, for 2 1/2 hours at a Foreign Ministry villa in a suburb of East Berlin.
The two said they discussed procedural questions for talks planned Wednesday in Bonn, where German officials will begin laying the groundwork for reunification. They said they had pledged to keep details of the talks secret and refused to comment further.
Under the formula agreed to last month, the two German nations will first discuss the domestic aspects of unification before consulting with the Allies about security issues.
The Allies have given their blessing to the idea of German unification, but enormous problems need to be worked out - in particular, the Soviet Union’s insistence that a united Germany not be a member of NATO. In addition, Poland is insisting on a role in the talks.
The meeting in Bonn is slated to be low-level. No definite results are expected to emerge until after elections March 18 in East Germany, the first free elections in the nation’s history.
The official ADN news agency reported Friday that 24 political parties will take part in the elections. It quoted election commission spokeswoman Petra Blaess as saying the final roster includes the Party for Democratic Socialism, which used to be the Communist Party; the Social Democrats; the liberal Free Democrats; and the Alliance for Germany, a conservative coalition backed by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union.
Smaller parties such as Alliance 90, the environmentalist Greens, the independent Women’s League and oddballs like the German Beer Drinkers’ Union were also accepted by the election commission.
East Germany’s voters will choose a new Parliament with 400 members, 100 fewer than the current People’s Chamber.
The leftist Social Democrats are favorites to win a majority, but the three-party Alliance for Germany, boosted by campaign appearances by Kohl and other West German conservatives, has jumped from a 17 percent share of support to more than 30 percent in recent opinion polls.
However, the Alliance’s chances could be hurt by accusations that Wolfgang Schnur, a top candidate from the alliance’s Democratic Awakening party, was a long-time informer of the hated state security police.
Schnur denied the charges, made by a citizens’ investigative commission Thursday, and Alliance members Friday backed his claims of innocence.
But Karl-Ernst Eppler, Rostock chairman of Democratic Awakening, recommended Friday that ″in the interests of the party,″ Schnur should not be a candidate.
The Communists, despite the name change and personal popularity of interim Premier Hans Modrow, are expected to fare badly, with no other left-leaning party willing to form a coalition with them.
The elections will give the new government a popular mandate to negotiate terms of unification with West Germany and the Allies.
President Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland and his premier, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, met with French President Francois Mitterrand in Paris on Friday to rally French backing for Poland’s demands to participate in the talks.
Their demand is based on fears that a united Germany might try to reclaim about a third of Poland that was German territory before World War II.
After Friday’s talks, Mitterrand endorsed the Polish demand for an accord fixing their border. But he stopped well short of calling for a full place for Poland at the talks on reunification between the Germanys and the four World War II allies.
″Poland cannot be in the six; that much is clear,″ he said at a news conference. He added Warsaw’s role would be ″beside, not within″ the process.
The two Poles initially said they were pleased with the Paris discussions, but Mazowiecki later said only full representation in the talks would soothe fears of his countrymen.
″It’s not enough for us to be consulted but to take part in the discussions,″ he said.
West Germany’s Parliament agreed Thursday that a united Germany should honor Poland’s present border, but it apparently has not eased Poland’s concerns.
The two Germanys have formed the front between NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact alliances for more than 40 years, and a united Germany would be a colossal country of more than 76 million people in strategically important central Europe.
Also Friday, East German Public Prosecutor Hans-Juergen Joseph announced the release of former chief of the security police, Erich Mielke, on grounds of ill health, ADN reported.
Mielke was jailed Dec. 8 on charges of abusing public office, along with other former Communist officials ousted in the fall revolution. The charges against Mielke were later upped to include high treason.