Despite the local press's highlighting of Mikhail Gorbachev's comradely talks with East German Communist Party faithful and his new arms control bids to the West, the Soviet leader's six-day trip to East Germany's party congress signaled tightened Kremlin control over that country and deepened strains in Moscow's relations with West Germany, according to western diplomats here.
Gorbachev's criticisms of Washington and Bonn in congress appearances this week in East Berlin cast new doubts on East German leader Erich Honecker's long-planned trip to West Germany, the diplomats said after the Kremlin leader's return here two days ago.
Before the congress, which ended Tuesday, East German officials had indicated that Honecker was likely to make the trip sometime this spring. It was originally scheduled for September 1984, but canceled at the last minute, reportedly because of Kremlin objections.
But now, a senior western diplomat here said, "a Honecker trip westward this year looks doubtful." Gorbachev's strongly worded assault on the Bonn government last Friday, focusing on its support of the Reagan administration's Strategic Defense Initiative, "did anything but pave the way for such a positive gesture," he explained.
A Honecker trip before Gorbachev's proposed visit to Washington this year would be out of step with U.S-Soviet relations, which have soured since the U.S-Soviet summit meeting last November, diplomats here said.
"It's understandable that Gorbachev would speak more critically about Bonn than Honecker did," Egon Bahr, a leading West German Social Democratic politician, said in an interview here. "Honecker wants to visit the Federal Republic West Germany ; Gorbachev doesn't."
Gorbachev's emphasis on consolidating economic ties within the East Bloc also threatens close trade links between East and West Germany and between the Warsaw Pact countries and the West as a whole, western analysts here said.
East Germany is enjoying strong trade with West Germany, traditionally its key supplier of western goods. Bonn views the close economic relations with East Berlin as a springboard for solidifying inter-German relations all-around.
"Are all the opportunities for cooperation between the fraternal countries used to accelerate our development and to insure our invulnerability to the capitalistic market?" Gorbachev asked in a speech to the East Germans. "I think you will agree that these opportunities are not used in full and it is in our common interest to redress this situation."
The eventual effect of such a policy, in the view of western analysts here, is to pull East Berlin, complete with the most advanced technology in the East Bloc, away from the West and toward Moscow.
Gorbachev also used the congress to renew his attacks on Bonn's governing coalition. He accused it of giving "wholehearted support to the American militarist SDI program," and serving as a launchpad for "missiles targeted eastwards."
"All this is more alarming," Gorbachev continued, since West Germany continues to claim that there is an "open German question" -- a reference to the West German support of eventual reunification of the two Germanys.
Relations between Moscow and Bonn suffered strains after West Germany began deployment of U.S. Pershing and cruise missiles in 1983, and have declined further under the new Soviet leadership. In the past 16 months, Gorbachev has gone abroad to see U.S., French and British leaders but has avoided meeting with senior West Germans, leaving Bonn more isolated from the Soviet Union than any other NATO country.
Moscow-Bonn trade, traditionally strong, has suffered too. In 1985 the two countries had $10 billion in trade, an estimated 5.3 percent drop from 1984. The drop has continued this year. At the same time the Kremlin has courted left-of-center West German opposition parties, which have opposed NATO arms control policies and SDI.
Leaders of the small West German Greens Party visited Moscow last week and met senior Kremlin officials. This week a Social Democratic Party delegation, led by Bahr, also saw high-ranking Soviet officials.