EAST BERLIN, JULY 22 -- East Germany's freely elected government, which this week reaches the halfway point of its scheduled existence, is suddenly balking at going out of business so soon.
All-German elections are tentatively set for Dec. 2, after which East Germany has been expected to pass out of existence by merging with West Germany. But East German officials this weekend began raising objections to the quickened pace of unification that West Germany has been pushing.
"In the past, we allowed a little more time between getting to know one another and jumping into bed than we do today," East German Defense and Disarmament Minister Rainer Eppelmann said in an interview in Monday's edition of the West German weekly Der Spiegel.
Eppelmann and East German Foreign Minister Markus Meckel this weekend called West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl arrogant and said that the East German military should remain in existence even after the two Germanys unite. West Germany wants to disband the East German National People's Army and create a single German military.
The army is only one of several issues on which the two Germanys are suddenly at loggerheads.
The East German legislature averted a collapse of Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere's five-party coalition government today over the sensitive question of when the two Germanys will merge officially. At the end of a tumultuous session, which lasted all day and through the evening, legislators said they were on the verge of a deal by which East and West Germany would vote on the same day in December, but in separate elections.
The separate votes would allow each Germany to keep its own election laws, a move that is expected to save from extinction several small East German parties, including both the former Communists and the grass-roots groups that led last fall's revolution.
Under East German law, those parties can win seats with only a few thousand votes. But West Germany requires parties to poll 5 percent of the vote for legislative representation. If East Germany became part of the new Germany before the election, West German law would apply.
De Maiziere, a member of the Christian Democratic Party, appeared to have won the battle with two of his coalition partners -- the Social Democrats and the Liberals -- who wanted all Germans to vote for their first common legislature under the same rules. But the prime minister may lose the war; both coalition partners are still threatening to leave the government, which could force de Maiziere from office.
The People's Chamber in East Berlin also reestablished the country's traditional five-state structure, which had been dissolved by the Communist government 38 years ago. Under the West German constitution, unification will be achieved when the five states formally apply to become part of West Germany.
De Maiziere, whose stand in unity talks with Bonn officials has been tougher than expected, is also demanding more financial and political concessions from West German negotiators trying to settle the unification treaty by September.
The Berliner Morgenpost reported today that de Maiziere wants his government to retain some powers after unification. The newspaper said East Germany wants to keep the money it will collect as the state sells off government-owned businesses.
That is not sitting well with West Germany, which last week doubled the amount of credit it is extending to East Germany's faltering industries. Unemployment is soaring in the East as government enterprises prove incapable of competing with products from the capitalist West.
"We are not a paymaster and are not going to become one," West German Finance Minister Theo Waigel said today. "East Berlin cannot keep making new demands every day."
Bonn negotiators said they will stand tough against the new East German demands, especially in view of last week's West German-Soviet agreement, which removed the final external obstacle to German unification when Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev dropped his objection to a united Germany in NATO.
Kohl's popularity has jumped to an all-time high as a result of his successful summit with Gorbachev, and Bonn is in no mood to let the outgoing East Berlin administration slow the drive to unity.
Not all of the discord is about money. The two Germanys also disagree over what to call the new country.
De Maiziere, whose country is now officially called the German Democratic Republic, wants the united nation to be known as the German Federal Republic. Kohl wants to keep West Germany's official name, the Federal Republic of Germany.
But recent polls of the West German public show that nonpoliticians prefer something a bit simpler: Germany.