Bonn tries to patch up ties with Poland, but a few political stitches get in the way
It's probably no more than coincidence. But the biggest mass defection of Poles in years took place in West Germany on the eve of Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher's visit to Warsaw.
This is his first trip to the Polish capital since the communist regime cracked down on the now-banned trade union Solidarity.
At least one sticking point remains to be resolved: In extending an economic cooperation treaty, Poland demands that Bonn admit that the weakness of the Polish economy is due to the 1981-84 Western economic sanctions. (Some American sanctions remain.)
Mr. Genscher rejects the demand, saying West Germany opposed the sanctions requested by Washington,did not participate in them, and therefore cannot be held responsible for Poland's current economic problems.
Genscher has been talking about going to Poland since June, but delicate negotiations did not make it possible for him to announce today's visit until last Friday.
2 The West German Foreign Minister's visit is aimed at restoring normal relations between the two governments. In keeping with this policy Genscher has made no plans to meet with Solidarity leaders. Although he will confer with Poland's Roman Catholic primate, Jozef Cardinal Glemp, he will not visit the grave of the murdered Solidarity supporter, the Rev. Jerzy Popieluszko.
While in Poland Genscher will press the Communist regime to grant an increased number of exit visas to ethnic Germans and others who wish to emigrate.
The significance of the planned request was underlined by the decision of 192 of the 608 Poles aboard the Polish cruise liner Stefan Batory to jump ship when it docked over the weekend in the German North Sea port of Hamburg. It appears that most of those who defected had earlier attempted to get permission to emigrate legally in order to join relatives in the West, mainly in West Germany, but also in Canada and Australia. Those efforts had been unsuccessful.
3 Genscher had hoped to be the first NATO cabinet minister to visit Poland. But Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou beat him to it.
During his October visit, Mr. Papandreou praised Polish leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and criticized Solidarity.
Genscher won't go that far.
But sources close to him say he does want to ''set a signal of normalization'' of which Washington will take note, too.
He is prepared to explain and defend his approach when he accompanies Chancellor Helmut Kohl to Washington on Nov. 30.
Genscher's strategy is not without critics from the government benches in parliament.
In elections, Dr. Kohl's Christian Democrats have always won a majority of votes from ethnic Germans expelled from Poland in 1945 and the party initially fought hard against the non-aggression pact Social Democratic chancellor Willy Brandt signed with Warsaw in 1971.
4 Spokesmen for these Christian Democrats criticized Hans-Jochen Vogel, leader of the Social Democratic Party, the largest of the two parliamentary opposition groups, for failing to visit Solidarity leaders when he was in Warsaw a week ago.
The right-wing of the Christian Democrats can be expected to criticize Genscher, too, putting a further strain on the party's coalition with the Foreign Minister's Free Democrats, already shaken by the political payments affair.
A point Mr. Vogel brought up when he saw General Jaruzelski a week ago - and one which Genscher will also raise - concerns the dozen or so East Germans and Poles who have taken refuge in the West German Embassy in Warsaw and refuse to leave until guaranteed safe passage.