Germany And Now There Is One

Unification is a fact at last, but Europe's new power faces years of labor to make the merger work for Germans and non-Germans alike

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The voters will need to be convinced. A recent poll by the Allensbach Institute, the country's leading opinion-research organization, indicated that only 32% of West Germans were in favor of rewriting the constitution so that troops could be sent to crisis areas like the gulf.

As it is, the process of unification has increased German involvement abroad. Beyond funding the withdrawal and the resettlement in the U.S.S.R. of Soviet troops now based in East Germany, a new friendship and cooperation treaty gives Germany the closest ties of any Western country with Moscow.

Integration of the former East Germany automatically introduces a special set of relationships with Eastern neighbors. "The cultural and economic links brought by the G.D.R. require Germany to develop a policy for Eastern Europe," says law professor Rupert Scholz, a former West German Defense Minister. That need is being accelerated by apprehension about instability and political fragility in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. "I am very much concerned at the shaky situation there," says Horst Teltschik, Kohl's top foreign policy adviser. "There is no stabilized democracy. They are in bad economic shape, and different ethnic groups are fighting again. What will we do when there are civil wars breaking out?"

If there is one area of real, deeply felt consensus among German political parties and voters, it is on a foreign policy that is resolutely moderate and unadventurous. "With our greater weight we will not seek more power," insists Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, "but we will act in awareness of the added responsibility it imposes on us." No sooner had he signed the friendship treaty with Moscow, for example, than he was balancing it with a call for "a transatlantic declaration between the European Community and the North American democracies."

Two recent steps highlight the course Genscher is charting. First, to reassure the Soviets and the world that it truly disdains the use of force, Bonn agreed to reduce the combined German armed forces from 590,000 to 370,000 over the next four years. Second, at the U.N. last week, Genscher set out his hopes for the 35-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. He predicted that the CSCE would soon create new institutions, including "regular meetings of heads of state and government, a center for conflict prevention and a secretariat." Together, he said, they would provide the multilateral foundation "for a lasting peaceful order throughout Europe."

One of Bonn's partners in the E.C. and NATO, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, is the head of Britain's bothered-about-Germany group, which includes politicians like former Trade Minister Nicholas Ridley and a tabloid- fed, anti-German segment of the public. "Their specific fears are hard to pin down," says Adrian Hyde-Price, a specialist on Germany at Southampton University. "It's not about Germans pulling on their jackboots and marching into Poland. It's fear about a tendency toward neutralism, and that with its enormous economic power, Germany will assert itself and be less willing to defer to its neighbors."

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