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Ostpolitik

From Academic Kids

Ostpolitik or Eastern Politics was the effort by Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany, to normalize relations with Eastern European nations including East Germany. The term's name was a reflection of Germany's decision to look to the east, rather than solely to the west as was the policy since Konrad Adenauer who was the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Among the elements of Ostpolitik was abandonment of the Hallstein Doctrine and recognition of the Oder-Neisse line as the border between Poland and East Germany. Also important was closer trading relations with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. This helped shore up the faltering communist economies, but it also made visible to the citizens of Eastern Europe the contrast between the wealth and high quality consumer goods of the west and the relative poverty of the east.

Discussions between Brandt and East German leader Willi Stoph began quickly, but no formal settlement was reached as Brandt was unwilling to recognize the East as a sovereign state. In 1970 the Treaty of Moscow was signed between West Germany and the Soviets and quickly afterwards treaties with Poland and other Eastern Bloc states were signed.

The most controversial agreement was the Basic Treaty of 1972 that created mutual recognition between the FRG and GDR as two separate states (though explicitly not as two separate nations). This was staunchly opposed by West German conservatives who felt the policy would result in a permanent division of Germany; to assuage them, Brandt took a very tough stance at the same time against radical leftists within West Germany itself. This agreement also made it possible for the two states to become members of the United Nations soon afterwards.

Some elements in the United States were concerned about their ally's new policies, worried about possible Finlandization. The easing of tensions on the European continent, however, helped to produce a general Détente between the superpowers, and the lessening of the Eastern Bloc's siege mentality is considered by many to be one of the factors that eventually led to Gorbachev and the end of the Cold War.

The current (as of 2005) Sunshine policy of South Korea towards the North is in many ways similar to the German Ostpolitik of the 1970s.

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