The New York Times, Vanessa Catenacci
On Friday, the leaders of nine eastern socialist countries, most prominently the Soviet Union, as well as a few other diplomats and representatives, began talks on economic cooperation.
Comecon, the Council for Mutual and Economic Assistance, is holding a three-day summit to discuss their economic growth for the next five years, focusing specifically on issues such as nuclear energy, oil and technological development. Tensions ran high among the Council, each of its countries debating the future of its relations with the West.
In recent years, the United State’s support of Western Europe through the Marshall Plan has resulted in their growth and development, leaving a stagnating Eastern society behind. Some of the nations within Comecon acknowledge these facts, striving to create the same prospering economic societies as Western Europe. The German Democratic Republic, when defending its trade with Western Germany stated ‘Our people want to see economic prosperity. The cooperation with West Germany is the best way that we can achieve that’.
Other nations, such as Poland, disagreed, holding to their stance that the Eastern and Western nations would never have established relations.
‘We have been better off without them and we will be better off without them” stated the representative of Poland. Later, they introduced the idea of allying with China stating, ‘‘we need to go to China. We can offer them energy in return for technology… Five years from now we can talk about the chance in cooperating with the USA, but now is not the time.”
In the past, the shaky international relations of the countries in Comecon have inhibited its integration into the world market. Part of this is because they have strived to only trade with other socialist nations. More recently, the taxes and interest rates implemented by the United States have caused the Soviet Union to isolate itself further, trading only within the nations of Comecon.
The tax impositions of the United States have caused the Soviet Union to seek out China as an ally in trade and technology. China is a neutral party, neither a member of Comecon or the OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development founded by Western Nations. Presently, China trades with both the United States and Russia, a careful balance it appears Comecon wishes to change.
For other socialist countries and diplomats, the answer to relations between the West and East lies in a common goal: the advancement of science. The Soviet Union established itself as highly developed in the field of nuclear physics, having set aside resources for the arms race. However the Secretary of the Council Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation admitted their failure to engage in research with foreign scientists has resulted in stagnation. They stressed the desire to work with the Western Nations scientists in such fields.
Such trades in technology have occurred in the past, with Ukraine stating, “we are one of the largest technological trading powers of the USA going on for years”. This was in reference to specifically energy technology. This proof of possible trades and international relations between the East and the West holds the promise for the future.
Only a day into the Comecon summit, it is clear the socialist nations are torn as to their stance on relations with Western society. The ways of the past and the science of the future are at angry contrast with other. The conclusion of their discussions will affect their future international relations.