Courtesy Reuters

East Germany between Moscow and Bonn

Seventeen months of intricate negotiation involving the four powers responsible for Germany, the two German states and the North Atlantic and Warsaw Treaty alliances have finally yielded a Berlin agreement. It is the first major East-West accord in Europe since the Austrian State Treaty in 1955 and suggests that old-fashioned diplomacy still has its virtues. The agreement's provisions, which are far better than Western foreign offices dared hope when the negotiations began, regulate the thorniest aspects of the Berlin problem, notably the access issue. But they do not solve the problem in the sense of establishing a new status for the city. Indeed, whether the agreement holds up at all depends on whether the present détente in Europe continues. Experience with Soviet policy has taught that this is not predictable. One result is, however, certain: the agreement compels the West to come fully to terms soon with the second German state. The German Democratic Republic is becoming, as Alice might put it, permanenter and permanenter.

Not only is the G.D.R. expressly included under its formal name in the Berlin treaty, the follow-on arrangements for transit traffic which it is negotiating with West Germany are to constitute an integral part of the overall agreement. The road now is open, American and West German officials agree, to talks between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries on reducing forces and at the same time or later to an East-West conference on security in Europe. Are negotiations on troop reductions feasible without direct involvement of the state whose army is rated the most efficient in the Eastern alliance? And is a security conference conceivable without participation by the one member of the Warsaw Pact which feels itself the most insecure? It hardly seems possible, likely-or even desirable. In opening the road to these projects the Berlin agreement also virtually ensures the emergence of the German Democratic Republic as a full-fledged actor in the politics of European security.

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