Posted at 7:15 p.m. PST Saturday, December 6, 1997 Conference gives blunt reason for enlarging NATO: Curbs on Germany New York Times News Service WARSAW, Poland -- Using an argument little heard in the debate over NATO expansion in the United States, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to Jimmy Carter, said Saturday that the absorption of three Central European nations into NATO resolved a problem that was considered ``impolite'' to mention: the ``disproportionate power'' of Germany. Brzezinski argued that the eastward expansion of the alliance placed Germany in a wider European framework, allowing it to be a ``good citizen'' toward Poland rather than a threatening neighbor. Speaking at a conference on German-Polish relations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Brzezinski said that Polish-German reconciliation, which began soon after the collapse of Communism in 1989, had assumed the geopolitical importance of the French-German reconciliation after World War II. ``Involving Germany in a wider framework,'' Brzezinski said, ``allows us to cope with Europe's central security problem of the 20th century: how to cope with the reality of Germany's power.'' Brzezinski and former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger were joined here by the German defense minister, Volker Ruhe, and top Polish officials in a debate about the role of an expanded NATO. The conference, which ended Saturday, was sponsored by the German Marshall Fund, a Washington-based organization that promotes trans-Atlantic cooperation. The basic reasons for expanding NATO have been explained by the Clinton administration during Senate hearings in grand terms of promoting a more secure and democratic Europe. The idea of taking three of the Soviet Union's former Central European satellites -- Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic -- out of the Russian sphere of influence has also been mentioned. But Brzezinski and several German officials were more blunt. They said that containing a united Germany's overwhelming power within an enlarged NATO explained much of the German and Polish enthusiasm for the move eastward. A member of Germany's parliament, Voigt Karsten, who was involved with Ruhe in shaping Germany's advocacy for a wider NATO, said that much of the motivation came from preventing the power and influence of a united Germany from being used in a ``destructive way.'' ``We wanted to bind Germany into a structure which practically obliges Germany to take the interests of its neighbors into consideration,'' Karsten said. ``We wanted to give our neighbors assurances that we won't do what we don't intend to do anyway.'' Fear of Germany to the west and of Russia to the east has dominated Poland for much of this century and before. More than 6 million Poles, including three million Polish Jews, were killed by the Nazis during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. After the reunification of Germany in 1990 Chancellor Helmut Kohl took a number of steps, starting with the formal recognition of the Polish-German border, long a source of dispute, to reconcile the two countries. The growth in trust and cooperation and the explosion in trade and investment between the countries in the last seven years have surprised many. As a sign of the new trust, a Polish-German-Danish military corps is being formed that will work within NATO once Poland formally joins the alliance in 1999, said the Polish defense minister, Janusz Onyszkiewicz. The new Polish foreign minister, Bronislaw Geremek, a dissident during the Communist era who is Jewish and a historian by profession, described the new relationship between Germany and Poland as a ``historic transformation.'' ``For a man with my biography, it is a miracle,'' he said. Surveys show that the number of Poles who feel threatened by Germany has steadily dropped, even as most Poles say they remain uneasy about the territorial ambitions of Russia. Germany is now Poland's biggest trading partner. Last week, Poland's new prime minister, Jerzy Buzek, visited Germany and was told by Kohl that he would push hard to ease the way for Poland's membership in the European Union. Kissinger, who supports the expansion of NATO -- although he has expressed reservations about the role Russia has been given in a joint Russia-NATO council -- said that for America's self-interest, Poland was a useful addition. Poland, he said, was so pro-American that it would help insure that the United States remained embedded in the Atlantic alliance. Poland, he said, would ``never exclude the United States from European policy.'' )1997 Mercury Center. The information you receive online from Mercury Center is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.
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