A senior West German official declared Sunday that only the four principal victorious World War II Allies could participate with Bonn and East Berlin in talks concerning German reunification.
The statement by Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was certain to displease some other European nations, particularly Poland.
Schaeuble, who is also a senior adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, said in a radio broadcast that the so-called two-plus-four nations would have sole authority to work out the details of German unity.
"We must, of course, inform and consult everyone--all our NATO partners and European neighbors," Schaeuble declared. "But the decisive questions will be discussed between the Germans--the two states in Germany--and the four powers. That does not suit everyone else in Europe, as we know."
Poland has demanded that it be included in any conference dealing with questions raised by German unification because it was one of Nazi Germany's major wartime victims.
The new Warsaw government has also been alarmed by Kohl's waffling on the question of permanent recognition of Poland's western border with Germany, which embraces territories that were part of Germany before it lost the war.
At a meeting of foreign ministers in Ottawa last month, the two-plus-four formula was enunciated. Under it, the two Germanys would begin preliminary talks on unification, working on the internal details. The talks would then be enlarged to include the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union to hammer out the international aspects.
The initial working meeting between East and West German officials on the subject was held Friday in East Berlin, and the first expanded, six-nation talks will take place Wednesday in Bonn.
On Friday, President Francois Mitterrand of France backed Poland's demand that Warsaw be included in talks concerning German unity. But Schaeuble rejected the Polish demand. He argued that since no peace treaty was signed with Germany after the war, there is legal justification for the four victorious Allies to take part in the talks but not for others to do so.
"The Italians, the Canadians, the Dutch, the Danes, also the Poles--they all have a legitimate interest that the process of completing German unity should take account of their interests," Schaeuble said. But he did not offer them a seat at the conference table.
Similarly, Schaeuble, presumably speaking on behalf of Kohl, declared that the 35-member Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe is not the proper venue for putting an international seal of approval on German unity.
An expected late-fall summit meeting of the nations of the security conference--all of Europe except Albania, plus the United States and Canada--has been suggested by some diplomats as the ideal forum for approving German unification. But Kohl is known to oppose such a large gathering for that purpose, believing that it would be unwieldy and could drag on endlessly.
The Polish border issue was kept alive Sunday when Herbert Hupka, leader of the Silesian Expellees, argued that Poland had no legal basis for maintaining the sanctity of its western borders. Nor, he said, did the Soviet Union have any legal right to territory taken from German East Prussia after the war.
"There is no historical, ethical or legally established claim for Poland or the Soviet Union on East Germany beyond the Oder and Neisse," Hupka said in a speech in Minden, West Germany.
The line along the Oder and Neisse rivers was set as East Germany's border with Poland by the Potsdam Conference in 1945. The conference ceded large portions of German Pomerania, Silesia and East Prussia to Poland; parts of East Prussia and large sectors of what was eastern Poland before the war went to the Soviet Union.