West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said today that the "Polish tragedy" must not be allowed to become "the hour of the cold warrior" in this country. "It must," he said, "be the hour of the reasonable and resolute."
In a speech to a Stuttgart rally of his Free Democratic Party, Genscher said that West Germany would be prepared to give "extensive financial help" to Poland if its government returned to the reformist course begun with the formation of the now-suspended independent trade union movement Solidarity.
"We appeal to the Polish leadership to take this offer seriously," he said, "and to follow up its words with deeds."
Genscher made no mention of sanctions against Warsaw or Moscow, and his message was interpreted as an urgent West German appeal to Polish authorities for concrete moves that would justify Bonn's restraint and allow the West Europeans to continue to resist U.S. pressure for retaliation.
Bonn today also sought to minimize what looked yesterday like a shift in position by Chancellor Helmut Schmidt toward a sharper condemnation of Soviet involvement in the Polish imposition of martial law Dec. 13. Schmidt and President Reagan, in a joint communique issued in Washington, spoke of "the responsibility of the Soviet Union for developments in Poland and expressed concern about the serious pressure it is bringing to bear against Polish efforts for renewal."
By explicitly recognizing Soviet complicity in the Polish crackdown, Schmidt appeared to move closer to the Reagan administration's position. But, as Genscher's speech today indicated, his government continues to avoid any definite commitment to sanctions against the Soviet Union or Poland. The West Germans have maintained that further consultations among the Western allies are needed, in the apparent hope that Poland's martial law leadership in the meantime can convincingly back up its announced intention to reinstitute reforms.
Schmidt's meeting yesterday with Reagan bought time for the West German leader by highlighting areas of West German-American agreement--basically involving the analysis of the Polish situation as against tactics. Reagan also received assurances from Schmidt of West German participation in discussions at least of alliance-wide economic sanctions.
The chancellor, seeming to back away from his previous warning to be mindful of the 1945 Yalta agreement when challenging Soviet control over Eastern Europe, agreed with Reagan and the other Western allies to mount a protest against the violence and suppression of human rights in Poland on the basis of the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which Warsaw and Moscow also have signed.
But Schmidt at the same time can now point to a statement Monday by the 10 European Community members, deploring the Polish situation and criticizing the Soviets but declining participation in U.S. retaliatory measures, as evidence that the formal position of the European allies is to hesitate on sanctions. While Bonn is among the most forceful advocates of a wait-and-see approach toward Poland, the rest of Western Europe has, for the moment anyway, swung with the West Germans.
A government spokesman, Lothar Ruehl, denied to reporters today that the Schmidt-Reagan communique marked a change in West Germany's assessment of the Soviet role in Poland from last week, when Bonn's chief spokesman, Kurt Becker, openly disputed the U.S. view that Moscow had instigated the military crackdown.
Ruehl insisted that West German officials had never overlooked Soviet responsibility for the imposition of martial law in Poland. He said it was clear that Soviet and Polish authorities had "worked together."
The United States and its ally West Germany now are in clear agreement on the aims to be achieved in Poland--lifting of martial law, release of the thousands of Solidarity activists and others interned, and resumption of talks among Communist Party authorities, Solidarity and Catholic Church officials.
But beyond denying new financial credits to Poland, which the European Community already has done, unless conditions there change, there is little indication of what economic moves might be forthcoming from the West Europeans. There is firm opposition especially to doing anything that would upset the planned Soviet gas pipeline to Western Europe.