The Western military alliance makes an unprecedented offer to Eastern Europe and the Soviets to cooperate politically and militarily. It is clear, though, the policy is aimed at keeping the Soviets at bay.NATO: THE STICK
In an effort to ease the concerns of Eastern European countries still worried about a possible return of Soviet forces, NATO moved Thursday to strengthen its political and military ties to its former Warsaw Pact adversaries.
While not specifying how it would respond to any Soviet or other threat, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said that any "coercion or intimidation" aimed at the countries of Central and Eastern Europe would be treated as a matter of "direct and material concern" to the 16 members of the Western alliance.
To help prevent such a threat from materializing, NATO proposed "further development of a network of interlocking institutions and relationships" with the Eastern Europeans and the Soviets, including military exchange programs between Eastern European countries and NATO.
The new policy, announced at the end of a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Copenhagen, Denmark, was not meant to be a challenge to the Soviet Union, NATO officials said.
On the contrary, they said, it was meant to satisfy the concerns of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania, so that these former Warsaw Pact countries would stop asking to join NATO.
The United States and its allies say they believe that Moscow would consider NATO membership for the Eastern European countries far more threatening than Thursday's announcement.
In recent months, officials representing Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria have visited NATO headquarters in Brussels and expressed an interest in joining the alliance, out of fear that instability in the Soviet Union could produce a government of hardliners in Moscow who could try to reassert control over their former Eastern European empire or halt their troop withdrawals, NATO officials said.
Soviet troops are to complete their pullouts from Czechoslovakia and Hungary this month and will be out of eastern Germany by the end of 1994, but have not negotiated a withdrawal accord with Poland.
In their statement Thursday, the NATO foreign ministers said: "Our own security is inseparably linked to that of all other states in Europe. The consolidation and preservation throughout the continent of democratic societies and their freedom from any form of coercion or intimidation are therefore of direct and material concern to us."
MONEY: THE CARROT
Baker puts a damper on Soviet hopes for aid. Reform your economy and political system first, he tells them.
Secretary of State James Baker, in the Bush administration's most detailed response yet to Soviet pleas for Western economic aid, warned Thursday that the Soviet Union must enact major political and legal reforms before the United States will help reform its moribund economy.
Baker specifically rejected the proposal of some American and Soviet economists that the West should attempt to remake the Soviet economy through a massive aid package and said a slower "step-by-step approach" was more "realistic and workable."
Addressing NATO foreign ministers in Copenhagen, Baker spoke hours before the Britain announced it has invited Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to present his economic reform plans to President Bush and the leaders of the other six major industrialized democracies in London at the conclusion of their annual economic summit next month.
In his speech to the NATO ministers, Baker said: "The Soviets must find the will to open the way to a new future. They must start with self-help.
"If they do, we will support them," he said, but added: "I don't honestly think we can catalyze Soviet reform through a "Big-Bang' approach."
Aides said that was a reference to the proposals of some experts that Western countries should attempt to jump-start sweeping economic reforms in the Soviet Union with an aid program as large as $50-billion per year.
Baker suggested six economic reforms and four political reforms that the Soviet Union should implement to transform its economy.
In economic terms, he said, "the Soviets must move to embrace a real market economy with private property, incentives, established and respected laws on exchange, competition, a sound currency and real prices." By incentives, Baker meant principally that businesses in the Soviet Union should be allowed to make profits _ and then keep them.
In political terms, he said, the Soviet Union should continue moving toward free elections and the rule of law; allow the Baltic republics to gain independence and other republics to gain autonomy; eliminate aid to Cuba and other "regimes that pursue internal repression or external subversion," and reduce defense spending.
Without offering any specifics, Baker held out for the Soviets the prospect of significant help from the West if they fulfill those conditions.
"We recognize the choices the Soviets need to make," he said. "But . . . we do not intend to stand idly by if the Soviets come to grips with these questions of political and economic legitimacy. Perestroika could be the most important revolution of this century. All of us have a profound stake in its outcome."
Gorbachev agrees that the Baltics have a right to self-determination. But he delivers a word of caution.
Mikhail Gorbachev told Swedes Thursday not to let their concern for the neighboring Baltic peoples extend into interference in Soviet affairs.
The question of independence sought by the Soviet Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, dominated talks between Gorbachev and Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson in Stockholm.
Baltic pro-independence demonstrators held a rally to coincide with a one-day visit to Sweden by Gorbachev after he delivered the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize lecture in Norway Wednesday.
Gorbachev said he and Carlsson agreed that the Soviet constitution provided for republics' right to self-determination.
"But sympathy from neighboring states and peoples must not spill over into interference in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union, especially when we are in the process of reforming," the Soviet leader said.
THE ARMS TALKS
Baker meets the Soviet foreign minister today. The two sides are near agreement on holding a summit.
The Bush administration has resolved internal conflicts holding up the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and will seek to complete the agreement in time to hold a superpower summit in Moscow late this month or in early July, U.S. officials said Thursday.
Secretary of State James Baker said he would outline the new U.S. position on START at a meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh in Geneva, Switzerland, today in an effort to resolve remaining issues.
President Bush, returning to Washington from a speech in Atlanta, said he is eager to meet with Gorbachev again but indicated that setting a summit date will depend on the Soviet response to the new U.S. offer on START.
The treaty, 98 percent complete, would reduce the long-range nuclear weapons of both sides by about one-third overall and cut the most dangerous types of weapons _ the warheads on ballistic missiles _ by about one-half.
LENIN OR PETER?
Soviet Communists are aghast at the possibility Leningrad may lost its name.
The Soviet Communist Party hierarchy threw up its hands in horror Thursday at the prospect that the inhabitants of Leningrad will vote to take back the name of St. Petersburg in a referendum scheduled next Wednesday.
Times Chief Correspondent Wilbur G. Landrey reports from Moscow that it is by no means certain that they will. But the conservative Communist newspaper Pravda Rossiya carried a statement from the Communist Party secretariat decrying the very possibility, recalling the battle for the city in World War II when it was under the siege of the German armies for 900 days between September 1941 until January 1944.
"In those tragic days, the name of Leningrad was the symbol of courage and freedom for the people of the world. The attempt to rename the city is clearly political and does not favor stability or consensus. On the contrary, it encourages disputes .
. and confrontation," the statement said.
Czar Peter the Great founded the city in 1703 as Russia's window on the world. It was St. Petersburg for 211 years until it took the more Russian name of Petrograd at the beginning of World War I. It became Leningrad only in 1924 after the death of Lenin, the leader of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.