1 SEPTEMBER 1984, Page 4

German muddle

ur future doesn't depend on

k_lwhether Herr Honecker pays us the honour of his visit,' the parliamentary leader of West Germany's Christian Democrats recently commented. An in' offensive remark, you might think — a statement of the obvious. But according to Reuters, 'this provoked a storm ofcriticism in Bonn.' So West Germany's future does depend on a visit from East Germany? Reading the West German press in recent weeks, one could almost be persuaded that the future of the world depended on it. An editorial note in the leading liberal weeklY Die Zeit, for example, quotes first Herr Honecker and then Herr Genscher, the West German foreign minister, on the necessity of East-West dialogue, and con- cludes: 'If only the superpowers should show as much insight!' The note is headed 'German Muddle'. We underestimate at our peril West Germany's political and emotional investment in its special rela- tionship with the East. This is something which the leaders of all the main political parties have in common. When Chancellor Kohl showed journalists round his office earlier this year, he pointed to a greY telephone in the corner. 'That is the most important of all the phones here,' he sag': 'It's the direct line to Honecker.' But Will Moscow allow Honecker to go? As Soviet leaders reassemble in the Kremlin after their summer hols, they may — if they take, a rational, calculating, long-term view their own self-interest — be well please" with the effects of Soviet media attacks on West Germany's policy towards the East' When Pravda sneezed, Bonn jumped. The, little East German tail has almost wagge" the West German dog.

Mr Clive Ponting's name is unfortun- ate. Whatever he has or has not done at the Ministry of Defence, it links bin' with the alcoholic press officer in Lawrence Durrell's sketches of embassy life. 'D°111 get shirty with old Ponting,' this character remarked, trapped in a revolving door that he had converted to a turbine powered hY, slivovitz fumes. One suspects that the rea' Mr Ponting may come to say the same.