Soviets threaten to block German union

Published Feb. 18, 1990|Updated Oct. 16, 2005

The Soviet Union will block the reunification of Germany if the West insists on NATO membership for the combined states, an adviser to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said Saturday. "If the Western alliance sticks with its demand for a NATO membership of all of Germany, then there won't be any German unification," Valentin Falin said in an interview with the radio station of the West German state of Saarland.

Falin, in addition to serving as a Gorbachev adviser, is the head of the international section of the Soviet Communist Party's Central Committee. He also is a former Soviet ambassador to West Germany.

The Soviet Union has been hardening its stance against NATO membership for a united Germany, creating an impasse that could slow the breakneck pace toward reuniting the states split after World War II.

In an attempt to calm Soviet fears about security, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher Saturday ruled out basing NATO troops on what is now East German soil.

"The West is agreed that with a unification of Germany, there will not be any eastward extension of NATO," Genscher told the Westdeutsche Rundfunk radio station.

Poland's insistence on a role in guiding the process has created another potential stumbling block. It is concerned about conservative West German politicians' claims to prewar German territories that were awarded to Poland by the Allies after World War II.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported that West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Genscher, when they met with Soviet President Mikahil Gorbachev recently, promised to seek full and immediate legal recognition of Poland's Western border by a unified Germany.

A Bonn government spokeswoman denied Saturday that such a promise was made but added that "it is possible this issue was discussed."