Reintegrating a Divided Europe. US diplomats call for strong cultural and economic links to strengthen reform efforts. HANDS ACROSS THE IRON CURTAIN
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But some US officials see a growing need for diplomatic understanding of the broader, dynamic process not only in Eastern Europe but in Western Europe, which is moving toward economic integration in 1992.Skip to next paragraph
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``The point is to get Europe back to normal - to pre-1918, when there was one Europe and there was free movement,'' comments an experienced US official. ``That is far less dangerous than a line down the middle.''
``There are signs the Soviets can find this move tolerable,'' the official adds. ``As long as you do not change the political lines in Europe, it doesn't matter what changes there are to the substance behind those forms.
Helmut Sonnenfeldt, an expert at the Brookings Institution, observes that the US policy of differentiating between the different countries of Eastern Europe and tailoring policy accordingly goes back to the State Department under Dean Rusk in the '60s. With a change of president, he suggests, that policy should be intensified.
``We should proceed with more rigor and vigor so we can distinguish between countries like Hungary that are moving along faster than others,'' he said.
Mr. Sonnenfeldt, a national security adviser to President Nixon, propounds the view that with time there could emerge a de facto neutralization or ``Finlandization'' of Eastern Europe. He urges West Europeans and the US to keep pressing Moscow for more interchange on the economic and cultural as well as military fronts.
``Don't be coy about it,'' he remarks. ``If the Soviets are looking for normal relations with Europe, it's not just a question of changing the military confrontation but steadily reducing the division of Europe and the division of Germany - which is different from the unification of Germany. What should be on the agenda is steady removal of the barriers to movement.''
While there is broad agreement that the Western private sector - universities, trade unions, business firms - should be encouraged to expand their involvement in Eastern Europe, diplomatic specialists also caution about the limits of what can be achieved.
``You have to open up and reach out with more exchanges and the like,'' says William Schaufele, former US ambassador to Poland. ``But we can't suddenly accept the idea in this relatively short period that the process of perestroika can't be arrested. It can be arrested or slowed down.''
In the view of Ambassador Schaufele and other experts, the process of liberalization and Westernization will go more slowly than some people expect. There are growing economic problems in Hungary and Poland, for instance, he notes, and the Soviets appear more amenable to an expansion of exchanges than do some East European states. In some countries like Albania and Romania there is little movement for internal change.
``We should increase our activities to the level the traffic will bear, because liberalization allows you to do that,'' Schaufele says. ``But don't expect things to happen too rapidly - like the Soviet Union becoming a democracy in five years.''
Some senior US officials suggest that unless Bush evolves a steady, imaginative policy, one that does more than simply react to crises, he may find the West Germans supplying high technology to Eastern Europe that was deemed by other allies as too sensitive to be passed along.