Bonn puts off summit with E. Germany
The long-awaited East-West German summit set for Aug. 27 to 29 has once again been postponed -- this time because the West Germans don't want to appear the endorse any potential Soviet or Warsaw Pact invasion of Poland.
West German government spokesman Klaus Bolling didn't give this reason in so many words Aug. 22. But various West German newsmen have been given to understand on background that this was the import of Mr. Bolling's delphic reference to unfavorable "developments in Europe" as the cause of Bonn's postponement.
Contributing to the West German decision was the strong impression that in the present tense situation in Eastern Europe, Erich Honecker, East German state and Communist Party chief, couldn't be forthcoming enough to justify a summit at this time. This impression was strengthened by the East German reneging in recent days on arrangements for West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to visit the East German Baltic port and shipbuilding center of Rostock on his way home after the summit. Apparently the East Germans thought the risk too great that Rostock citizens -- who live only 140 miles across the border from striking Polish Baltic sea shipyard workers -- might greet Chancellor Schmidt too warmly.
On the only previous summit in East Germany a decade ago, crowds chanted "Willy-Willy" -- and despite identical pronunciation of the first names of the two principals, it was clear that the East Germans were cheering then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and not East German Premier Willi Stoph. Given the present volatile situation in neighboring Poland, the East Germans apparently decided that they could not now tolerate any shouts of "Helmut-Helmut."
Nor is East Berlin prepared at this moment to make any gestures toward the West German desire to see the age lowered at which East German citizens may travel to the West. Currently, among the general population, only retirees or a very few people with hardship or humanitarian needs to join immediate family members may travel to West Germany.
Bonn would like to see the East-West German summit -- which was already postponed once earlier this year by East Berlin after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan -- rescheduled at a more favorable time, possibly even this year.
There has been speculation in the West German press that Mr. Honecker has been counseling a hard-line response to the Polish strikers by the Polish Communist Party. There is no evidence to prove this, however, beyond the East German news media selection of news about the strikes.
So far there has been no commentary originating from the East Germans themselves, but in citing Polish agency reports the East German media have stressed the hardships that the strikers are causing for the general population. East German news coverage has also referred a number of times to "strengthened activities of antisocialist elements" in Poland.