European Community denounces Soviet coup Officials vote to cut $1 billion in aid SOVIET CRISIS

August 21, 1991|By Richard O'Mara | Richard O'Mara,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON -- In a stinging rebuke of the new rulers of the Soviet Union, the European Community strongly condemned yesterday "the removal of President Gorbachev from office," declared the coup d'etat "a clearly unconstitutional act" and voted to cut more than $1 billion in aid to the Soviet Union.

The 12 foreign ministers of the EC, gathered in The Hague, the Netherlands, demanded that Mikhail S. Gorbachev be restored to power and that "constitutional order be re-established forthwith."

In language surprisingly undiplomatic, the ministers also denounced acting President Gennady I. Yanayev and his cohorts in the military and KGB for their "suspension of democratically elected bodies and censorship of the media," saying that such action "leaves no doubt as to the true nature of the regime that now holds the reins of power in the Soviet Union."

A communique expressed the EC's fear that the continuation in power of the regime "cannot but bring to a halt the process of democratic reforms in the Soviet Union and the dramatic improvements in the international climate to which President Gorbachev has made such an important contribution."

The ministers demanded access to Mr. Gorbachev and all other "elected representatives of the Soviet people."

They also announced that a meeting of the heads of government of the community, a European summit, would be held Friday to sanction some of yesterday's policies and possibly to agree on an even more interventionist response, such as the dispatch of a ranking EC representative, or group, to Moscow.

The EC demanded that the Soviet Union honor its commitments under international agreements that seek the protection of human rights, and all other commitments and treaties, "including those concerning troop withdrawals and disarmament."

The ministers expressed their concern over reports of military actions in the Baltic states. They urged the current Soviet authorities "to refrain from all threat or use of force against the democratically elected governments" there.

The foreign ministers reaffirmed their aim of bringing Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia closer to the EC by giving them associate status in the community.

Few observers had anticipated such an unequivocal reaction from the EC, especially since the ministers had indicated going into the meeting that they were not in accord on how to respond to the junta.

The British were urging a cut in EC aid. But Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd had counseled against making demands, such as the restoration of Mr. Gorbachev, that he believes the coup makers will reject.

But Germany and the Netherlands were determined that the community would demand that Mr. Gorbachev be restored, and they got their way.

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