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A Difficult Balancing Act: Honecker's Visit to West Germany (September 11, 1987)

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Fricke: You just mentioned the Gera demands.* They evidently did not play any role in the two-day exchange of opinions in Bonn; was that because the basic positions of both sides were clear?

Scholz: The Gera demands were in fact not at all significant in the talks. The federal government allowed absolutely no doubt – neither beforehand nor during the talks themselves –that the question of citizenship, the conversion of Permanent Missions, and any questions raising any doubt about the openness of the German Question in general, would not be up for discussion. The other side understood that. The other side also made it very clear that it was interested in practical solutions, practical steps, and that it did not want the two sides to be mutually overwhelmed by fundamental demands. That is a sensible, reasonable course, and it gives occasion for optimism in the future.

Fricke: The chancellor stressed in the Bundestag that Berlin was to be included in all regulations between the two German states. Do you think it is conceivable that the GDR will show greater respect or tolerance for Berlin’s connections to the Federal Republic in the future?

Scholz: Time and again, the GDR tried to make things difficult as regards the inclusion of Berlin in intra-German agreements. The Eastern bloc countries as a whole try to do the same thing. That, of course, has always been a strategy that is supposed to call into question what was guaranteed in the Four Powers Agreement on Berlin: namely, not only the safeguarding of the existing connections between Berlin and the Federal Republic but also their further development. That is a policy that is unacceptable. It violates the treaty. This was made very clear, especially when the chancellor firmly said (before the Bundestag but also during the talks): if the GDR truly wants progress in intra-German relations, then it cannot ignore Berlin; success is only possible with Berlin and especially also for Berlin. I think these clear words were also understood. In this respect, Berlin remains the acid-and-scratch test, as I said earlier, for the continued cooperation, the further dialogue between the two states in Germany.

[ . . . ]

* Demands expressed by Erich Honecker in a speech in Gera on October 13, 1980, including: (1) fixing the common border along the Elbe in the middle of the river; (2) recognition of GDR citizenship; (3) renaming permanent missions to be embassies; (4) closing the registration center for SED crimes in Salzgitter (West Germany) – trans.

Source: Karl Wilhelm Fricke, “Interview mit Senator Scholz über den Besuch Honeckers” [“Interview with Senator Rupert Scholz on Honecker’s Visit”], September 11, 1987, Deutschland Archiv 20, no. 10 (1987), pp. 1116-20.

Translation: Allison Brown

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