US Ponders Multinational Aid Plan for Eastern Europe
PRESIDENT Bush should use his July trip to Poland, Hungary, and the Paris economic summit to announce a multilateral aid consortium for Eastern Europe, says former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Mr. Brzezinski is championing this initiative as a way to help reforming communist leaderships meet short-term economic crises expected in months ahead. In Poland and Hungary more economic austerity will be necessary, he says. But that could cause significant social unrest and endanger the reform path communists parties in both countries have endorsed.
Western economic help can mitigate these dangers, Brzezinski argued in a breakfast meeting with reporters this week.
Brzezinski, an informal foreign-policy adviser to Mr. Bush and to national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, favors a US-Western Europe-Japan consortium based on the premise of continued economic and political reform in Poland and Hungary. He also argues for inviting Poland's leader, Wojciech Jaruzelski, to Washington to strengthen reformists within Poland's Communist Party and in recognition of the freest elections in recent times.
The Bush administration is seriously considering an aid initiative along the lines Brzezinski outlines, US officials say. But debate continues over the conditions needed for such things as debt relief and the forum in which to launch the initiative.
The United States Treasury Department remains opposed to the short-term economic aid idea in interagency discussions, Brzezinski says. According to him, the Treasury argues it amounts to putting money down ``a bottomless pit.'' But he suggests that when the President focuses on his East European jaunt and is asked what he will do, the consortium idea may emerge.
US officials and observers agree expectations inside Poland and Hungary will be high for Bush's visit. The West Germans, among others, are eager to coordinate with the US to support East European reforms.
Brzezinski adds that such an effort will also help Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev continue reforms and diminish the chance he might be pressured to react to violent change. Gorbachev will tolerate peaceful change in Eastern Europe as long as it is not overtly anti-Soviet, Brzezinski estimates. But Gorbachev could still be forced to act if those countries became chaotic, he says.
Change could come rapidly, Brzezinski says. It is conceivable, for example, that Solidarity founder Lech Walesa could be Poland's president in four years, he says. But that depends on how smoothly things go. Polish leader Jaruzelski will have to keep the army and police under control, he says - and Gorbachev will have to stay in power.