Prague, July 29 (RFE/RL) -- German foreign policy has two priorities--European integration and a transatlantic association, according to Klaus Rose, chair of the German parliament's (Bundestag's) defense committee.
"Germany is ready to accept fully the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe as true and lasting members of European society," Rose said last week during a lecture at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague before university students from Central and Eastern Europe.
"A unified Europe of free democracy, free economy and free trade is now possible," he said.
Rose recalled a recent statement by Estonian President Lennart Meri on his country's desire to be integrated into Western institutions such as NATO and the European Union.
Reportedly, Meri said he wanted Estonia to be in the "heart of Europe" and not "on the outskirts of Russian dominance." That same view is shared by numerous Central and Eastern European leaders seeking full membership in Western institutions, Rose said.
The actual act of integration is not as clear cut. Rose cited the need for a closer form of military cooperation among NATO allies and a change in decision-making procedures. This cooperation should be voluntary.
"No country," Rose said,"should be forced to participate militarily against its wishes."
An integrated Europe should not be seen as a move against anyone, said Rose.
"NATO is a treaty organization designed to offer enhanced security and protection," he said, "not aggression against any nation."
Russia and some of the member-states of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a Moscow-dominated alliance, have opposed NATO's plans to expand in the East because they see in that move a threat to their security.
As for the who and when of NATO enlargement, Rose said he expected a decision by year's end.
On the issue of the European Union, Rose said there can be no doubt the goal remains to "deepen and enlarge real political union." It is important to keep in mind, however, that "Europe walks in different speeds and with different partners." He expanded on this by saying that some countries might be accepted to the European Union and NATO, while others could be accepted only to NATO or only to the EU.
The idea of deepening European integration, rather than widening it, has been suggested. That, said Rose, would be difficult because of rising expectations among countries trying to gain entry.
"We cannot go back, even if some countries are not yet fit to go forward, because it is a question of real stability which cannot be divided," he said.
Even Austria, long a neutral nation, now thinks of joining NATO because Vienna does not want to left outside of the military integrated Europe.
The preamble of the U.S. Constitution would serve as a good "model" for the new, unified Europe, said Rose. The preamble begins with the words,"in order to form a more perfect union; to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty...we the people do ordain and establish this constitution..."
Rose's remarks closely mirror those of German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel just two days earlier. Kinkel, quoted in Spain's daily "El Pais" said he was with his "body and soul" in favor of European integration and transatlantic relations. He also said he was optimistic about the future of this association. Still, Kinkel said "it is clear this association will not work by itself, assuming it ever did."
According to Kinkel, the conclusion of the political and economic confrontation between East and West also brought "the end of the self-evident as regards the transatlantic relationship." Globalization has resulted in fierce competition, and foreign policy rooted in "promotion of economic interests" is gathering momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. But he argued that this should not lead Europeans to eventually consider each other more as competitors than as partners.
"The transatlantic community was the winning trump card in the postwar period. In the 21st century, it must continue to be the force guaranteeing security, stability, and the opening of markets throughout the world," he said.
Kinkel emphasized Germany's special interest in Central and Eastern Europe.
"Nobody--except perhaps the United States--has struggled as vigorously as Germany for the enlargement of the EU and NATO."