The Western allies tonight protested to the Soviet Union against new regulations put into effect by East Germany that "further restrict freedom of movement in greater Berlin" and that remove certain control points in that divided city.
The Allied declaration came in the form of a statement to the press issued here. Diplomatic sources say some form of official protest will be made directly to the Soviets, probably Friday.
The U.S., British and French protest basically challenges ther right of the East German government and the Soviets to make unilateral changes in the status of Berlin, even in the Communist eastern sector of that city. All of Berlin, in the Allied view, continues to come under the jurisdiction of the Four Powers - the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union - and only those powers acting jointly can change things.
The Allied action follows two surprising moves by the East Germans in recent days that have stirred considerable concern in West Germany.
Last week, the East German government announced that beginning Jan. 1 all non-Germans would have to get a visa and pay a fee for one-day trips from West Berlin into East Berlin. The rules do not effect Allied military or diplomatic personnel. Previously, non-Germans could enter East Berlin on a free, daily pass, although a visa was required for anything longer than a one-day stay.
This week, the communists also shut down control posts between East Berlin and the rest of East Germany in a move that apparently was meant to symbolize that they consider East Berlin an integral part of East Germany and that a visa to the city was comparable to a visa to the country.
The East Germans have always considered East Berlin their capital, something the Allies do not recognize, although they have their embassies there.
The Allied statement says it is clear that the purpose of the East German measures "was to give the impression that the German Democratic Republic could, by unilateral action, change the status of greater Berlin, in violation of the quadripartite agreement fo Sept. 3, 1971, which applies to the whole of Berlin."
The Allied note rejects such moves and says it is only the four major powers who share responsibility for maintaining the "status of greater Berlin, which can be altered only by agreement of all Four Powers."
The Allies "will look to the government of the Soviet Union to carry out its obligations regarding Berlin," the note concluded.
A key provision of the 1971 fourpower accord on Berlin says that all four governments agree, regardless of the differences in legal views, that the situation that has developed in the area (Berlin) . . . "shall not be changed unilaterally."
It is that provision that the Allies and the West Germans claim has now been violated.
The 1971 agreement, which the Allies interpret as meaning greater Berlin, talks only about "the relevant area." Part two relates only to the "western sectors of Berlin."
The East Germans have already said they consider that agreement to apply only to West Berlin.
Despite its vagueness, the 1971 agreement has worked extremely well, insuring Western access routes to West Berlin, which is some 125 milis inside East Germany, and opening the way for millions of visits by Westerneres to the East.
There is no mood of crisis evident here over the surprise East German actions, but there is "an atmosphere of concern," according to one Allied official.
Financially, the action could be profitable for East Germany, assumimg foreigners keep crossing the wall on one-day trips.
Westerneres crossing into East Berlin have always been required to change about $5 of Western currency into East German marks. Now there will also be a visa fee.
It is estimated that the new visa rules will affect about 100,000 persons a year, producing considerable hard currency to help the East Germans pay for imported products from the West.
The Association Press reported From Washington :
A U.S. State Department spokesman said today the new East German actions could threaten the progress of East-West relations.
Robert Fuseth said the American position has always been that East Germany cannot unilaterally make decisions affecting the status of Berlin.