The Senate voted 98 to 0 yesterday to approve a treaty formally ending the post-World War II division of Germany as wary senators, in the interest of advancing the cause of European democracy, suppressed concerns about Germany's modern history as an aggressor.
"We welcome the German people, as a whole, back to the fraternity of civilized nations," said Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.).
Voting a week after the unification of German was completed, senators also made clear that nothing in the treaty's ratification should be construed as tacit U.S. acceptance of the Soviet Union's postwar annexation of the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The treaty, signed in Moscow Sept. 12 by Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the United States and East and West Germany, now goes to President Bush for his signature. It relinquishes all American rights and responsibilities over Germany and lifts Soviet, French and British controls over the country as well.
"We must now focus our attention and our energy on the challenges of the future, not the legacy of the past," said Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine).
Aside from ending the division of the country, the treaty calls on the Soviet Union to complete the withdrawal of its estimated 370,000 troops from what was East Germany by 1994.