West Germany

Romania Table of Contents

In January 1967, Romania became the second Warsaw Pact state after the Soviet Union to establish diplomatic relations with West Germany, an action based on the Warsaw Pact's Bucharest Declaration of 1966. The declaration affirmed that there were "circles that oppose revanchism and militarism and that seek the development of normal relations with countries of both the East and the West as well as a normalization of relations between the two German states." The declaration also included a statement affirming that a basic condition for European security was the establishment of normal relations between states "regardless of their social system."

In the period after 1967, relations with West Germany passed through several stages. Initially, Romania minimized differences in ideology and foreign and domestic policy. But friction soon surfaced over the question of ethnic German emigration. In 1979 West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited Bucharest and extended credit guarantees of approximately US$368 million in return for Romanian pledges to facilitate the reunification of ethnic German families. The issue resurfaced in 1983 when the socalled education tax would have increased West Germany's payment of the equivalent of US$2,632 per ethnic German emigrant to US$42,105. After visits by Bavarian premier Franz Joseph Strauss and West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, an agreement was reached whereby the West German government increased its payment per emigrant to approximately US$5,263. According to press reports, the agreement remained in effect until June 30, 1988, and provided for the emigration of 11,000 to 13,000 Transylvanian Saxons annually. The West German publication Die Welt reported that in January 1989 a follow-up agreement had been reached by which Romania would continue to permit emigration at the previous rate.

Political relations with West Germany, which had been their most cordial during Willi Brandt's chancellorship, took a sharp downturn in the 1980s. Ceausescu's 1984 visit to Bonn had sought to exploit a setback in West German relations with Bulgaria, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Observers believed that Ceausescu was determined to rebuild his tarnished reputation in the West. But disagreements over arms control, trade, and the treatment of ethnic Germans prevented the issue of a joint communique.

After the mid-1980s, West German official criticism gave way to direct acts of protest against Romanian policies. In April 1989, Chancellor Helmut Kohl declared that the situation for Romania's ethnic Germans had become intolerable. At the same time, the West German Foreign Ministry lodged an official condemnation of Romania's human rights policies.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress