Warsaw Pact plan: a ripple but no splash in W. Europe
Western European governments are meeting the latest Warsaw Pact proposal for a nonaggression treaty with public caution and a private yawn. The proposal envisages pledges by both NATO and the Warsaw Pact not to be the first to use nuclear or conventional weapons against each other.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The public caution - West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said the new proposal would be ''seriously valued and examined'' in Bonn - arises from skittishness about possible European peace-movement enthusiasm for avowals of peaceful intent.
The private yawn - various European Foreign Ministry spokesmen have said they see little new in the offer - arises from the repetitiveness of the concept. Virtually identical proposals were made by the Warsaw Pact in 1958 and 1963.
Other suggestions of the Warsaw Pact communique published Jan. 6 are also viewed by the Europeans as repetitions of earlier Soviet proposals for declaratory disarmament with no concrete enforcement. These suggestions include NATO-Warsaw Pact talks on reductions in military spending, a freeze on development and production of new nuclear weapons, and a ban on neutron and chemical weapons.
The renewed Warsaw Pact plug for liquidation of foreign military bases is viewed as particularly remote from any serious arms-control proposal, since Moscow seems to apply it only to the four US divisions permanently stationed in Western Europe and not to the 31 Soviet divisions permanently stationed in Eastern Europe. Under the doctrine of ''proletarian internationalism'' the Soviet Union reserves the right to intervene in Soviet-bloc countries whenever it deems Soviet-style socialism there to be under threat (as in Czechoslovakia in 1968).
The Western European yawn also reflects some disappointment that the Jan. 4-5 Warsaw Pact summit in Prague did not elaborate on the most burning current arms-control issue - Euromissile limitations - or on Soviet leader Yuri Andropov's recent offer in this area.
Instead, the Warsaw Pact communique endorsed the Soviet position in very general terms and again condemned NATO plans to deploy new intermediate-range missiles if there is no prior American-Soviet arms-control agreement. The communique added that the NATO deployments would pose a serious danger for Europe and bring about a deterioration there.
The response of Western European governments was, as British Foreign Secretary Francis Pym put it, that NATO's whole policy is one of nonaggression and use of weapons only in response to any attack.
In the same vein West Germany's Genscher noted that renunciation of force is already enshrined in the UN Charter, in the Soviet-West German treaty, and in the Helsinki Final Act. Renewed confirmation of this might be helpful, Genscher added, but only if it were linked to an end to the Soviet use of force in Afghanistan and a Soviet renunciation of the doctrine of ''proletarian internationalism.''