Full Citation

  • Title One hint sows a crop of doubts
  • Publication Title The Economist
  • Collection The Economist
  • Date Saturday,  Aug. 16, 1969
  • Volume 232
  • Issue Number 6573
  • Page Number 23
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The Economist Newspaper Limited
  • Copyright Statement © The Economist Newspaper Limited.
Berlin One hint sows a crop of doubts FROM OUR BONN CORRESPONDENT Back in Bonn Herr Kiesinger is coyly brandishing his modest achievements in Washington last week. He had been pleased and surprised to find there so much patience with Bonn's chronic mis- givings. His hosts scarcely mentioned west Germany's failure to sign the non- proliferation treaty- and President Nixon seems to have convinced him that Washington's bid to get on a better foot- ing with Moscow does not mean dis- t 3 Keep it there, Mr President regarding the Germans feelings-above all. their sense of lying open to invasion. and of being discriminately denied the right to national self-determination. It was opportune that he met Mr Nixon at the right moment to discuss the implications of the latest moves on west Berlin by the three western governments responsible for its security. Mr Gromyko's hint. in his speech to the Supreme Soviet on July loth. that Moscow would welcome an improvement in the situation of west Berlin has naturally kindled some hope in Bonn. So has the western allies response in their communications of August 6th and 7th proposing new four- power talks on the problem. But these moves have also rekindled old suspicions. West German specialists in Soviet affairs. and some of their Nato counter- parts. surmise that Russia wants to keep all quiet on the Berlin front as part of its strategy for securing its western frontier against the event of major conflict in the Far East. They are sure that the western allies aim is to-transform the loose agreements on west Berlin made in 1944. 1945 and 1949 into a firm treaty precisely defining its status and guaran- teeing access to and from the west. All of which is considered unexceptionable. What discourages Bonn. however. is that Mr Gromyko's brief reference to west Berlin represented it. as usual. as a political entity separate from west Germany. Bonn suspects that. if talks are held. Moscow's offers would only confirm this thesis. Bonn would set three aims in negotia- tion. First. an unequivocal guarantee of access to Berlin. Second. constant free- dom of movement for west Berliners throughout the entire city. (The last communist offer of passes. at Whitsun. was unacceptable because it was made conditional on cancellation of the arrangements for electing the west German president in Berlin.) Third. the honouring of these undertakings by the four powers still responsible for Berlin. instead of their being considered merely as an agreement between east and west Germany. There are not many concessions that Bonn would be willing to make in exchange. A discreet diminution of west German representation in Berlin- A dampening of the radical right's activities in the city- And what would Moscow ask for Bonn's participation in a European security conference at which east Germany would be recognised as a sovereign state- Would Russia dis- courage east Germany's latest catalogue of demands. published last weekend in Neues Deutschlnnd. which includes the dissolution of Bonn's ministry for all- German questions and a ban on the National Democrats- The doubts remain.