Gradual approach asked for Germans within Russia Bonn official seeks small enclave at first

January 21, 1992

BONN, Germany (Reuters) -- A leading German politician called yesterday for a compromise over the creation of an ethnic German republic within newly independent Russia.

"It would be an illusion to think that we could force the creation of a German republic in the next few days or weeks," said Karl-Heinz Hornhues, deputy chairman of the parliamentary group of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats.

"I believe we must look for a compromise," Mr. Hornhues told a news conference on his return from a trip to Russia. Local Russian opposition must be taken into account, he said.

Russia signed a joint declaration with Germany in November promising to set up an ethnic German republic in the Volga region similar to one dissolved by Josef V. Stalin in 1941, when Hitler invaded.

Bonn reacted angrily to a comment two weeks ago by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin that ethnic Germans in his country could be squeezed into an abandoned missile test site.

Mr. Hornhues said it might be possible to begin forming a German republic in a sparsely populated area east of the Volga, near Volgograd (apparently including the former missile test site), then expand north and east in the next three to four years in close cooperation with Russians living there.

Germany, whose constitution allows anyone who can prove German ancestry to settle there, fears that many of the 2.5 million ethnic Germans in the former Soviet Union would want to return to Germany if a separate autonomous republic were not set up.

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