US ambassador reassures West Germany about strong relations
As Europe holds its breath in anticipation of next week's superpower summit, United States Ambassador Richard R. Burt has reassured the West Germans about German-US relations. He has called for a ``mature partnership'' between the two allies. Putting behind various bilateral squabbles of recent years, Mr. Burt said yesterday that the American and German peoples are especially well suited to meet together the challenge of today's tumultuous change. He presented his ideal of a new relationship to the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank associated with the Christian Democratic Union of Chancellor Helmut Kohl.
``We are partners, not twins,'' Burt said, and German-US friendship ``does not mean an end to competition or disagreement.'' It does mean bringing ``major issues into the open'' to discuss them ``fully and honestly.'' It requires ``a more balanced partnership, with more symmetrical rights and responsibilities on both sides.''
But it includes US respect for ``the rising sense of a German national identity, of German national interests compatible with, but by no means identical to, those of the US.''
Burt portrayed himself as more optimistic about US-German relations than some commentators in recent years. He summoned both nations to push ahead in today's technological revolution. He specifically approved the European effort to pool high-tech research in the Eureka project. In this context he again encouraged Bonn to participate in President Reagan's space-based defense research project, the Strategic Defense Initiative.
In East-West relations -- the most sensitive area for US-German coordination -- Burt stressed a theme close to the German heart: the importance of dialogue. He did not give Dr. Kohl any credit for reviving US-Soviet dialogue -- an interpretation that the Christian Democrats have been propounding. But he did compliment the West Germans on their own maintenance of dialogue with East Germany and Eastern Europe, a contact that often arouses suspicion rather than sympathy in Washington. And he pu t in a good word for ``a vision of Europe reunited,'' a favorite topic of Kohl and other Germans interested in eventual German reunification.
He carefully noted that East-West dialogue could only proceed on the basis of Western strength and realism. He described realism particularly in terms of necessary Soviet recognition of the negative impact that Soviet intervention in regional conflicts has on arms control.
Burt praised Dr. Kohl -- especially for deploying NATO Euromissiles -- in what Germans are taking as an exercise in ego-boosting after White House irritation with Kohl. Reagan's staff has never forgiven Kohl, say US sources, for insisting that Reagan pay a controversial visit last May to a World War II cemetery that included graves of Waffen SS soldiers.
Burt also called for a joint fight against trade protectionism. And he noted that there could not be any division of labor in which the US would take care of Western security around the world, while the Europeans forgot those who are fighting for freedom in ``Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola, Nicaragua, and elsewhere.''