Franz Josef Strauss, the conservative Bavarian state premier once scorned by Moscow as a reactionary militarist, said Wednesday that a “new political era” has begun for the Soviet Union and West Germany.
Strauss said that Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, with whom he conferred Tuesday, agreed that the two countries, enemies in World War II, should open a new chapter in their relations.
Strauss, a former minister of defense in the West German government, talked with reporters at the close of a three-day visit to Moscow. Advocating increased business dealings, he said that “Mars, the god of war, should give way to Mercury, the god of trade.”
Relaxation in Rules
He suggested that even the rules adopted by Western countries to restrict some high-technology exports to the Soviet Union would be relaxed as East-West tension decreased.
“Speaking from a capitalist point of view,” he said, “we can see a market of 300 million people in the Soviet Union, mostly for consumer goods.”
Strauss, terming his visit “a sign of a new political era,” described his talks with Gorbachev and other top Soviet officials as “useful, friendly, candid and honest.”
“We are convinced that changes have begun in the Soviet Union,” he said, referring to Gorbachev’s plans for restructuring the economy and opening up Soviet life. “We felt there is a new style of leadership . . . but we don’t expect changes in the political system.”
He said that anyone who expects Moscow to become more of a capitalist country will be disappointed.
On the question of the continued existence of separate Germanys, East and West, Strauss was adamant.
‘We Have One Nation’
“We will never accept the idea of two nations,” he said. “We have one nation where two states exist.”
According to a spokesman for the West German Embassy here, Strauss asked Gorbachev to reduce the sentence of Mathias Rust, the 19-year-old West German pilot who landed his plane in Red Square last May and was sentenced to four years in prison for violating Soviet airspace.
Spending an hour with reporters, Strauss scolded them for writing too much about the Rust case, saying that could raise false hopes for his quick release.