BONN officials have welcomed East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow's promise to start his country on the course of ``humane socialism.'' Government spokesman Dieter Vogel said Mr. Modrow's speech to the East German parliament Friday is proof that the country cannot turn away from its present course.
Meanwhile, Rudolph Sieters, Chancellor Helmut Kohl's chief of staff, meets today with East German officials in East Berlin to discuss economic aid and prepare for Mr. Kohl's visit to East Germany sometime before the end of the year. Mr. Seiters takes with him a list of questions and aid proposals, but no concrete offers of economic assistance.
Earlier this week, Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher locked horns over whether to demand specific economic reforms, such as a market economy, before granting aid to East Germany.
After meeting with his ministers to discuss short and long-term aid to the German Democratic Republic (East Germany or the GDR) on Thursday, Kohl repeated his call for political reforms but abandoned demands that East Germany use West Germany as a mandatory model for reform. The East Germans know the road they want to take to reform and should follow it, he said.
Said Mr. Genscher: ``Our model is an offer. Whether it is accepted or not is a free decision for the people of the GDR.''
After a week of hectic discussions between ruling and opposition parties on whether to grant aid in the first place, the government must now come up with a plan for economic aid. Social Democrats would like to cut the defense budget to finance aid to East Germany. Genscher says he favors an aid program funded in part through supplementary financing.
Debate also continues over the role of West German business in supporting reform in the East. Michael Baumann, head of Intra-German Economic Relations in Bonn's Economics Ministry, said he would welcome a quick change in East German laws to allow for joint ventures, direct investment, and an increased exchange of high technology.
Many businesses have already expressed interest in doing business with the GDR and taking advantage of that country's expertise in fields such as optic electronics and machinery construction. Computer giant Siemens announced earlier this week its willingness to invest in training and technology transfers with East Germany. Commerzbank, West Germany's third-largest bank, was the first financial institution this week to open a branch in East Berlin. Dresdner Bank has indicated interest in doing the same in its former home city of Dresden.
But Helmut Giesecke, director of International Trade at the Bonn-based Association of German Chambers of Commerce, said direct investment and joint ventures as proposed by experts in the Economics Ministry are neither possible nor advisable goals for industry for the moment. He warns that such measures could only increase concerns that West Germany wants to buy out the GDR.