Courtesy Reuters

Western Integration and the People's Democracies

During his recent visit to Poland, General de Gaulle discreetly but repeatedly called upon the Central European countries to assume an independent and creative role. By challenging the unnatural East-West dichotomy in Europe he showed himself again a statesman of vision. Yet, regrettably, while he has a highly desirable political goal he has failed to choose the means most likely to attain it. The French Government in the last few years has not favored the growth and cohesion of the European Economic Community (E.E.C.) and other common institutions of the West and has sought to raise the independent international status of France. It is essential to the General's plan that analogous processes be stimulated in Central Europe: in his mind the rigid commitments of nations east and west of the Elbe to antagonistic "blocs" impede the rapprochement between these nations, the definitive elimination of the Iron Curtain and the restoration of a "European Europe."

A prominent member of the French cabinet, Edgar Faure, outlined this policy as follows: "One must, moreover, consider with all due concern the problem of the countries of Central Europe, which number 118 million people and which seek to escape from the abnormal situation in which they found themselves as a result of Stalinist policies. We obviously must avoid allowing an immediate political construction of 'Little Europe' to hamper this operation." (Le Monde, December 1, 1965.) Thus the views of the French Government about the effect of West European integration on relations with the communist states, although differently motivated, are not far from the official communist position on the E.E.C., according to which its progress- and even its very existence-constitutes a major obstacle to rapprochement between the "socialist" and the "capitalist" nations of Europe.

To someone familiar with the contemporary economic, social, political and psychological realities of Central Europe, de Gaulle's method for moving that region toward a greater self-affirmation, and thereby overcoming the division of Europe, seems quite the opposite of what is needed. In

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