Saving Radio Free Europe for Democracy's Sake

I have heard with great dismay of the new American government's plans, for financial reasons, to put an end to the work of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. I usually urge government administrations to economize; but with this intention to liquidate the Munich stations, American policy undermines its own successes.

The Radios are the voice of the free world. It was this voice, beamed by America into the East Bloc, that prepared the ground for the bloodless revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe. It shows the magnanimity and political maturity of your country that the triumph over socialism has not led the Bush or Clinton administrations to haughtiness. But your modesty should not extend to the quiet liquidation of American positions in Europe. There is a broad majority in Germany who have not forgotten America's con tributions to the defense of our freedom.

A sensible and future-oriented policy includes the nurturing of old friendships. It lies in America's interest not to pull back too far from European society. Americans should not liquidate these stations that are so useful to their own interests and to those of democracy. Peter Schiwy, Berlin

I am writing as a citizen of Poland, in which large parts of our society for over 40 years could hear, however jammed, the free and independent voice of Radio Free Europe (RFE). That voice coming to us from the outside, independent from various political pressure, is still needed.

The decision to dissolve RFE and Radio Liberty (RL) assumes that Eastern Europe is a fairly stable part of the world. And yet the democratic institutions in this part of Europe are still fragile and the process of systematic transformations is far from being included. This is evidenced by the tragic events in former Yugoslavia, the political and economic chaos in Russia and in other regions of the former USSR.

Poland too is not yet a stable country. Economic problems might lead to social upheavals, which could undermine the fragile basis of its newly constructed social and economic order.

At the time of a growing wave of nationalism in the whole of Europe, Radio Free Europe, in support of friendly and peaceful cooperation among nations, plays a tremendously important role that can hardly be taken over by our domestic media. Marek Edleman, Lodz, Poland

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