Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EC Warns Soviets on Aid Conditions Community Leaders Say That Unless Republics Work Together, There Will Be No Major Aid Effort

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

EC Warns Soviets on Aid Conditions Community Leaders Say That Unless Republics Work Together, There Will Be No Major Aid Effort

Article excerpt

EUROPE'S top diplomat in Moscow, speaking for the 12-nation European Community, has issued a stern warning to the Soviet Union.

Unless the Soviet center and republics resolve differences that now prevent them from embarking on reforms in even a loosely affiliated economy, major financial help from the Community is out of the question.

"Our message is clear," European Community (EC) Ambassador Michael Emerson says. "We're saying to them, 'Don't think that if you all go off in a fanciful {separatist} way and inflict great economic damage upon yourselves that you can come back and pass the tab to us.' "

Beyond stopgap food assistance, the Soviets have requested huge sums of financial aid from the EC, assumed by Soviet leaders to be more forthcoming than reluctant American and Japanese sources. In addition to humanitarian help, the EC has also financed 80 percent of all the globally supplied technical assistance to the Soviets. EC programs range from food distribution and energy projects to financial services and management training.

But feuding among the republics threatens to cut off the crumbling Soviet economy from more substantial help. "They are inextricably linked in terms of production, trade, and finance," says Ambassador Emerson. "Of course we think economic coordination can work. However, we aren't telling them what to do; but simply to choose to do something. They have to be serious if they expect large-scale credits."

Last week in Alma-Ata, capital of the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan, the 12 remaining republics initialed an agreement loosely linking their economies. Ivan Silayev, interim Soviet prime minister and chairman of the Inter-Republican Economic Committee, hailed the results as "very impressive. And I believe for many people, the results have exceeded all initial expectations."

But for Emerson and his European partners, the Alma-Ata agreement fell far short. "It's a very weak document. It's a very soft use of the word 'coordination, says Emerson. "We've had some experience with this in the EC. When you can't do anything together, you say you'll coordinate. What was signed in Alma-Ata clearly shows a failure to agree on the fundamentals."

With or without an economic agreement, the Soviets face a tough winter. Addressing immediate needs, the EC is forging ahead on food aid to the Soviets. Meeting in London last week, EC Commission President Jacques Delors, EC President and Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers, and British Prime Minister John Major agreed on a food and humanitarian aid package worth billions of dollars.

Mr. Major, chairman of the powerful Group of Seven - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States - will likely double the amount committed by EC members when he secures expected additional contributions from non-European G-7 partners later this week. …

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