Detente still blooms between Germanys
If there are no last-minute glitches, East German party and state chief Erich Honecker will finally fulfill his wish to visit West Germany Sept. 26 to 29. The dates have not been officially announced yet, but preparations went ahead Wednesday with West German Cabinet guarantees of the latest West German bank credit to East Germany of 950 million marks ($333 million).
Glitches are still a distinct possibility, especially given the rising chorus of denunciations of West German ''revanchism'' from the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and, now, Poland.
So far, Moscow seems to have allowed East Berlin a fair amount of leeway in its lucrative economic relations with West Germany.
But chronic Soviet suspicions of too much pan-German coziness have been strengthened in the past few months by Moscow's dawning realization that Bonn is neither going to be pressured nor sweet-talked into stopping the ongoing NATO deployments of new medium-range nuclear missiles.
Moscow's generally friendly or neutral words for Bonn over the last few years have reverted this summer to pre-detente-style allegations of West German designs on former German territories in East Europe.
There has been no open Soviet rebuke of East German dealings with West Germany.
But the persistent Soviet attacks on Bonn raise the question of whether Moscow thinks East Berlin is paying too high a political price for West German financial largesse.
The tenor of the new Soviet criticism of West Germany suggests that Moscow would like to see East Berlin punish rather than reward Bonn for the new NATO deployments, as Moscow is seeking to punish Washington.
For many weeks, East Germany ignored the drumfire from the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. But now it has joined in, half-heartedly.
Mr. Honecker went no further than his customary periodic comments in telling a Soviet interviewer that ''some'' West Germans (i.e., not the Bonn government) want to ''revive old revanchist dreams.''
But East German Politburo member Egon Krenz, speaking in Poland, did go further this week. He condemned an ''imperialist FRG'' (Federal Republic of (West) Germany) and ''great German expansionism.'' Significantly, the East German Communist Party newspaper Neues Deutschland omitted this name-calling when it reported Krenz's remarks.
The political price that East Germany is paying for the East-West German island of detente does not seem high to many West Germans.
Philipp Jenninger, state minister for inner-German relations in the chancellery, announced an East German easing of cross-border visits Wednesday, and these were more meager than the West Germans had hoped.
(The measures remain unannounced in East Germany. Neues Deutchland on July 26 reported briefly that East Germany has secured a $333 million credit but did not identify the loaner or mention East Germany's loosening of travel restrictions.)
Beginning next week, Dr. Jenninger said, East German pensioners may spend 60 (rather than just 30) days at a stretch in West Germany, and they may visit friends rather than relatives only. West German pensioners may reciprocate for 45 (rather than 30) days and will have to fork over only 15 (rather than 25) West German marks ($5 rather than $8) a day to do so.
Further, West Germans living near the border may now make two-day rather than just one-day visits to East Germany; visas will no longer expire at midnight on the day of issue. (Still under discussion is the question as to whether this provision will apply to West Berliners visiting East Berlin.)
There is no lowering of the minimum age at which East Germans may travel West , however. Nor is there any reduction in the daily currency exchange required of Western visitors to East Germany under retirement age.
Dr. Jenninger said East Germany has promised to accelerate its dismantling of automatic shooting devices on the East-West German border - and not to replace them. And he noted that, as announced earlier, East Germany will prolong use of the Heerstrasse-Staaken crossing for transit traffic between West Germany and West Berlin until the end of 1987; originally that crossing was to have been closed at the end of this year.
This much liberalization is still enough for West Germany to go ahead with plans for the Honecker visit. And Soviet attacks on West Germany have remained low-key enough for the East Germans to proceed with their plans.
As the schedule is shaping up, Honecker will go to his native Saarland. He may also drop in on Bavaria. He will be entertained with suitably ambiguous protocol by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at Bad Kreuznach and by West German President Richard Von Weizsacker at the Gymnich Palace 25 miles outside Bonn.
Honecker thus will not set foot in the German capital - and Dr. Kohl therefore will not have to set foot in the East German capital on his return visit, presumably next year. The West has never acknowledged East Berlin as the capital of East Germany.
All of Berlin, East and West, is formally still under control of the World War II occupying powers.