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Dialogue between the SPD and the SED (September 11, 1988)

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DLF: For example that one remark by Kurt Hager . . .

Eppler: Yes, precisely the remark about the capacity for peace. It was probably intended better than it was received. We were not surprised that there were difficulties here and interpretations that went back and forth. My impression, especially with respect to interpretations, is that a lot is going on in the SED and that we’ll probably have to wait another year or two to see what comes out of it. What actually unsettles me even more than the occasionally strained attempts at interpretation is the reduction of the paper in the media, in public perception in the GDR, namely, the reduction of it to the subject of peace. Peace is ultimately the most important thing; everything else is subordinate to peace. None of that is wrong. But then of course other major topics don’t get nearly enough attention: for example, the acknowledgment of the capacity for peace and reform, the right of both sides to exist, the linking of the external dialogue – for example, between SPD and SED, or between the SED and other political groups in the Federal Republic or in western Europe, on the one side – with the internal dialogue taking place at this moment in society both here and there. This does not mean that that part of the paper has been renounced, but evidently it is believed that it cannot be totally fulfilled at the present time. Good, we are relatively patient and perhaps should add, as regards peace policies and the willingness to work together constructively on security issues with the Western side, including the SPD, that we have not really experienced any disappointment, since things are progressing well in those areas in the GDR. The difficulty at the moment lies in the implementation of the paper [within the SED].

[ . . . ]

DLF: Does the change in relations between the SPD and the SED also include a change in the SPD’s attitude toward the DKP [German Communist Party]? That would be logical.

Eppler: We also thought about that from the very beginning. I have to admit that over the course of last year I changed my opinion on this subject to some extent. I originally said that the SED is one of the governing parties in east-central Europe, that is, in the area of the Warsaw Pact. We are a democratic party in the Federal Republic of Germany. We wrote this paper at that level, not with some small party in the Federal Republic of Germany. I still would like to maintain that. But another problem came up. If we ask the SED, what about your internal dialogue with forces in the GDR that do not follow the SED line, and here I don’t just mean the nonaligned parties but also churches or peace groups or environmental groups, whatever they have there, then we’ll get the counter-question: What are your relations with the DKP? That is to say, don’t you do the same thing, exclude some groups – in this case a very small one – from the internal dialogue? I think this counter-question is legitimate. I have basically learned that. That does not mean that we will now fraternize with the DKP, that we’ll form some joint action-groups. But it must mean that we will not categorically exclude the DKP from the internal dialogue in our republic because then we would not be fulfilling the conditions of the paper ourselves.

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