West Europeans Balk at Quick Aid for Soviets
Western European leaders Tuesday signaled support for Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s efforts to rescue his ailing Soviet economy but fended off a Franco-German push for an immediate $15-billion aid package.
The leaders of the 12-nation trading bloc ended a two-day summit by asking aides to consult with the Kremlin about urgent proposals for immediate loans and longer term assistance.
Prime Minister Charles Haughey, the host of the meeting, said the leaders are aware of concerns about the Soviet president’s chances of success in advancing his economic reform program.
The troublesome question also will be at the top of the agenda of next month’s economic summit of the seven leading industrialized nations in Houston.
In their final statement, the leaders praised reform efforts in South Africa but made no move to ease the economic sanctions imposed against the white-led government in 1986.
Britain’s Margaret Thatcher, who has pushed for a lifting of prohibitions, hailed their statement urging an end to violence in South Africa. She said it was directed at black leader Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and its support for an armed struggle, which “ought to be abandoned.”
In taking a cautious approach on the Soviet Union, the officials, led by Thatcher, rejected an appeal by France and West Germany for immediate aid.
“I favor support for economic reform, but there has to be reform to be supported,” Thatcher said.
Spain’s prime minister, Felipe Gonzalez, said, “It wouldn’t be responsible for the community to fix a budget (aid package) without knowing the needs.”
Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany, who made a strong pitch for immediate Soviet aid, said he is satisfied with the summit, however. He said aid for Moscow is a “long-term investment from which we all can benefit.”
West German banks have already agreed to grant loans totaling $3.1 billion to the Soviets.
In exchange for the help, Kohl has said he will urge the Kremlin “to adopt a constructive approach” toward membership of a united Germany in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.