E. Germany alters summit roadmap
Bonn — West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has accepted the invitation to an West-West German summit Aug. 27 to 29 -- despite East Germany's last-minute surprise of changing the site.
Mr. Schmidt and East German party and state chief Erich Honecker will now meet at Honecker's hunting lodge at Werbellin Lake, 36 miles outside East Berlin , a West German government spokesman said Aug. 13.
On the way home Chancellor Schmidt will visit the East German north coast cities of Gustrow and Rostock for a modest amount of greeting the East German man in the street. The summit meeting and originally been planned for a Baltic Sea resort near Rostock.
Until the latest flap, East and West Germany had been working together smoothly to keep Central European detente alive despite the freeze in East-West overall relations after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The West Germans had persuaded the United States not to penalize Eastern Europe for the Soviet aggressions in Afghanistan. The East Germans had persuaded the Russians -- who always have a nagging suspicion that East-West German coziness will be at Moscow's expense -- to let the planned 1980 summit take place, if on a delayed schedule.
Most recently, Soviet party and state chief Leonid Brezhnev is presumed to have given his personal blessing to the new summit site at his annual summer meeting in the Crimea with Honecker. This meeting began just prior to the East German announcement of the summit locale.
Once the continuity of Central European contact was assured, the East German hosts one-upped the West Germans by announcing publicly -- late Aug. 11 -- that the August summit would take place in the Prussian woods of Werbellin Lake (rather than in the Hanseatic north). They also announced the summit would last two days instead of the 2 1/2 days East and West Germany had been discussing.
After intensive East-West German consultations, the West Germans announced their acceptance of the site Aug. 13. They managed to get Mr. Schmidt's north German public appearances and the 2 1/2 days of the talks reinstated. They have also apparently arranged Schmidt's special train and auto trip from Hamburg to Werbillin Lake so he will not have to travel through East Berlin.
West German sensitivity about Berlin arises from the contrary positions of the two sides on the legal status of East Berlin. East Germany maintains the East Berlin is an integral part of East Germany and that country's capital. West Germany maintains, in accordance with the four-power agreement of 1971, that all of Berlin -- both East and West -- comes under administration of the postwar occupying powers of the US, the Soviet Union, Britain, and France.
Formally, the West German position is correct; American, British, and Franch military patrols still have a ritual access to East Berlin, and the Soviet Union still participates in the running of West Berlin's Spandau Prison, with its lone leftover Nazi prisoner, octagenarian Rudolf Hess.
In practice, however, East Berlin is administered totally by the East German government, situated in East Berlin.
Schmidt therefore wanted to avoid any tacit legitimization of the East German claim -- by for example, receiving official military honors from the troops the East Germany keeps in East Berlin despite the 1971 demilitarization of Berlin.
The motivation for East Germany's last-minute changes is not clear. The West German press has been speculating, however, that East Germany wished to avert any spontaneous demonstrations of affection for the West German leader by East German citizens. Such demonstrations occurred at the only previous East-West German summit on East German soil, when emotional crowds greeted Chancellor Willy Brandt with chants of "Willy-willy" in Erfurt in 1970.
ACtually, the West German government -- which values stability in East Germany and does not want to provoke the Russians to retaliations against East Germans -- is as eager as the East German government to avoid any emotional incidents.
Final agreement on the summit dates and site was reached on the 19th anniversary of East German erection of the Berlin Wall. On this occasion the West German "Aug. 31 Working Group" announced that there had been no deaths at the Berlin Wall during the past year. The reason is not that the East German border guard has become more lenient -- automatic firing devices have been increased to shoot down any East Germans trying to leave East Germany -- but that there have been fewer attempts to flee over the wall.
In 1979, 3,512 East Germans emigrated to West Germany. Of these, 900 were exchanged for West German payments (or "ransom," as it is commonly called). A further 2,149 went first to Hungary or Yugoslavia and then slipped over these more-open borders to the West. Only 463 came directly over the heavily mined and patrolled East-West German border.