Germans Work Out Treaty on Details For Reunification

THE parliaments of East and West Germany are expected to ratify the final blueprint for German unity perhaps as early as this week. The 900-page document was signed Friday by Wolfgang Sch"auble, the West German interior minister, and G"unther Krause, East Germany's top unity negotiator. Although reunification will not formally occur until Oct. 3, when East Germany has agreed to merge with West Germany, the treaty provides the final consensus necessary to begin the task of reconciling the stark differences between the two societies.

But Mr. Sch"auble warned that the treaty would not ease East Germany's problems overnight. ``We will need time to repair the damage caused by decades of communism,'' he said.

The document was a victory for West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, whose conservative government was increasingly worried that East Germany's steady economic collapse and growing social unrest would force a far-less-dignified union. But the opposition Social Democrats also scored significant victories, forcing Mr. Kohl to back down on several key issues.

The treaty declares Oct. 3 a national holiday and Berlin the capital of a reunited Germany, although where the government will actually sit has yet to be worked out.

Plans are under way for a nationwide unity celebration, with tolling church bells, fireworks, speeches, and parades to mark the end of more than four decades of division. West German and East German lawmakers will sit together in the Reichstag building for the first time in special session on unity day.

The treaty left many crucial decisions on uniting the two states to the government that will be elected on Dec. 2.

The compromise treaty allows East Germany to retain its liberal abortion-on-demand law until at least 1992, the deadline for a united parliament to come up with a new law for the entire nation. Kohl's conservative coalition government was forced to retreat from a demand that West German women who sought abortions in East Germany after unity be subject to prosecution.

East Germans have a legal right to an abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but West German women must prove that the pregnancy is life threatening, that it resulted from rape or incest, or that it would create severe social or economic hardship.

The document also includes a provision meant to lure more Western companies into East Germany. The uncertainty of who owns what in East Germany has been blamed for inhibiting Western investment needed to provide jobs and replace the faltering sectors of the economy.

The treaty gives investors who buy East German land protection from claims made by former owners or their heirs, who would instead be compensated with cash under a system to be worked out later. Tens of thousands of West Germans who fled East Germany after the communist takeover have filed claims for return of their former property.

The two nations also agreed the new parliament will decide what to do with the files compiled by East Germany's notorious secret police, which kept sensitive information about millions of people. Kohl's government wanted the files moved to West Germany. Under a compromise agreement, they will remain in what is now East Germany under the custody of a West German official to be chosen by East Germany.

In addition, the document recognizes the five East German states that will be created after Oct. 14 regional elections and spells out how much representation they will have in the upper house of parliament. It also creates a clearinghouse for hundreds of thousands of East Germans who will lose their jobs as the former communist bureaucracy is dismantled.

The treaty signing took place on the eve of the 51st anniversary of World War II. On Sept. 1, 1939, Adolf Hitler's forces invaded Poland, and France and England declared the war that led to the destruction and division of Germany. The unity treaty promises that the new united Germany will respect the borders of its European neighbors.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK