Eastern Europe fears a split of rich, poor states

November 21, 1990|By Diana Jean Schemo | Diana Jean Schemo,Paris Bureau of The Sun

PARIS -- While European and North American leaders raised their glasses to the end of the Cold War at Versailles last night, the countries of Eastern Europe spent much of yesterday pleading for tighter cooperation with Western countries in tackling the problems unleashed by the dissolution of the East bloc.

Speaking before the 34 nations gathered at the three-day Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe -- which includes the United States, Canada and all the countries of Europe except Albania -- leaders of the Soviet Union's former satellite states worried openly about the legacy of 40 years of imposed communism.

"Our common future may be darkened by the sinister clouds of the resurging conflicts of bygone days unless the split between a rich and a poor Europe, an A class and a B class Europe, is overcome," said Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki.

Hungarian Prime Minister Jozsef Antall also warned that if economic integration were not speeded up, Europe risked seeing the Iron Curtain transformed into a wall between the rich and poor of Europe.

Problems long concealed beneath the rhetoric of internationalism and comradeship among workers -- the forces of nationalism and separatism, ethnic strife and anti-Semitism -- now clamor for attention from Yugoslavia to Azerbaijan.

The shift from a command to a market economy, the sudden loss of assured supplies from other East bloc countries and skyrocketing oil prices that must be paid for in hard currency all put the aspiring democracies of Eastern Europe in danger of protracted economic and political turmoil.

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev was the first to make a pitch for Western aid at Monday's opening session of the conference.

Raising the specter of militant nationalism and headlong separatism, Mr. Gorbachev said, "They may spell conflicts, animosity, the 'Balkanization' or, what would be worse, the 'Lebanization' of entire regions."

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl called on other West European states to assume a greater role in the East through "pan-European responsibility and solidarity."

"Following the opening of national borders, there must now be no borders which perpetuate" a division of prosperity, he told the European and North American officials. "The ideological gulfs that have been overcome must not be torn open again by social gaps."

Meanwhile, the East European states announced the end of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact's military role.

"We trust that the prerequisites for a complete dissolution of the Warsaw Treaty will be brought about through the European security process at the latest by New Year's of 1992," Hungary's Prime Minister Antall told the meeting.

Later, he told a news conference that he had invited leaders of

TC the six remaining Warsaw Pact members to Budapest on Dec. 9 to set a timetable for dismantling its military structures.

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