Chancellor Helmut Kohl, under fire from his coalition partners, backed down Tuesday from statements linking recognition of the Polish border with Poland's renunciation of reparations from World War II.
Senior members of the ruling coalition, including Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, issued a joint statement after several hours of closed-door negotiations, saying both the East and the West German Parliaments should adopt a declaration stating the inviolability of Polish borders.Last week, Kohl sought to link the border issue to Poland's renunciation of claims for war reparations and a guarantee of rights of ethnic Germans in Poland, and has been widely criticized. The statement Tuesday appeared to indicate that Kohl had backed down from his earlier insistence.
The coalition partners said, "The Polish people must know that their right to live in secure borders will not be questioned through territorial claims by us Germans now or in the future." The move means West Germany would officially relinquish any claim to its former territories east of the Oder and Neisse rivers, which were ceded to Poland in 1945 after World War II.
After German unity, the government will have to sign a treaty with Poland stating its confirmation of the borders. The partners said they assumed Poland would also respect the rights of ethnic Germans living in Poland.