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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany


In the mid-1980s, East Germany enjoyed diplomatic recognition with over 130 countries. It was a member of the Soviet-directed Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and the Warsaw Pact military alliance. In September 1973, both Germanies were admitted to membership in the United Nations (UN), and East Germany has been active ever since in advancing Soviet and East European positions in that international forum. During the same period, it also became active in the developing world, particularly Africa.

The evolution of foreign policy is intimately tied to the condition of intra-German relations and to the domestic situation. For the first two decades of its political existence, East Germany had been effectively excluded from international recognition by West Germany's Hallstein Doctrine, which required that diplomatic relations be broken with any country that recognized East Germany. The "diplomatic wave," a metaphor used to describe the rush of foreign governments to recognize East Germany, came after the Four Power Agreement on Berlin (1971) and the Basic Treaty (1972) had been signed. East Germany's foreign policy successes have also served domestic political purposes. Since the early 1970s, the regime has used the international recognition it has secured outside of Eastern Europe as a means to impress the East German public with its permanence and legitimacy.

In light of East Germany's newfound diplomatic legitimacy, many of the traditional aspects of intra-German politics have become a significant aspect of broader East-West relations. In Third World countries, the two German states compete with each other for influence on behalf of their respective alliance systems. Within the UN, the two states have found

themselves on opposite sides of most issues, from north-south economic and technology questions to the subject of arms control.

Data as of July 1987