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East Germany Table of Contents

East Germany

Policy Toward the Industrial West

Since the diplomatic wave of the early 1970s, East Germany has demonstrated a pronounced interest in expanding its economic and, where possible, political ties with the industrial societies of Western Europe and North America. This task has not been an easy one. West Germany continued to emphasize that it views East Germany as a special partner and accordingly reacted very negatively to efforts on behalf of the European allies to establish relations outside the existing framework that Bonn considered acceptable.

East Germany's integration within Comecon and the Warsaw Pact also has limited the amount of diplomatic room available for building comprehensive ties with members of NATO. Furthermore, the country has not been able to expand trade with the West because of its existing delivery commitments to Comecon. Despite these restrictions, since the mid-1970s East Germany's economy has become increasingly tied to the market systems of Western Europe and Japan. Although the relative volume of its trade with those systems remained small, significant import and export growth has still been registered.

In line with the emphasis on "dialogue" and a "coalition of reason" with the West, in the 1980s East Germany pursued contacts with Western governments. In 1984 an official East German-British cultural agreement was signed. In 1984 Austria and East Germany also signed a long-term economic accord and an agreement on the bilateral recognition of certain university degrees. In 1985 Italy and East Germany signed a long-term economic cooperation agreement outlining an expansion in bilateral trade and pledged a prompt exchange of cultural centers in their respective capitals. Japanese premier Yasuhiro Nakasone's 1987 visit to East Berlin probably presaged greater economic cooperation between the two countries.

Data as of July 1987