East German Premier Hans Modrow, pressed by mass emigration and a crumbling economy, appealed Tuesday for immediate reunification talks under a formula worked out with the Allied victors of World War II.
Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, urged Modrow's government to create a social security system as generous as West Germany's as a means of stopping the flight.Kohl made a campaign trip to East Germany, lending his support to conservatives there and telling a rally of 90,000 that his government will provide aid to help the troubled country's social safety net.
The chancellor, a Christian Democrat, was repeatedly cheered by the large crowd in the city of Erfurt, who waved West German flags and shouted for quick unification.
He tried to justify his refusal to give massive aid to the current interim, Communist-led government.
``I was not ready to invest billions in a system if I can't see that the citizens will benefit,' Kohl said.
The crowd responded by shouting, ``Helmut, Helmut.'
More than 400,000 people have left the East for West Germany in the past year, most of them skilled workers, after giving up hope of significant improvement in living conditions at home.
Kohl met with West German industrial leaders Tuesday to draft plans for ``solidarity with East Germany,' and told journalists his government would help finance unemployment benefits and pensions for East Germans.
He was vague about the degree to which West Germany would underwrite the costs of East Germany's transition to capitalism, however, saying only that Bonn could provide ``start-up financing' for the benefits.
His references to German ``social unity' reflected a growing realization among West Germans that they must pay for reunification. Kohl's government has been reluctant to make firm deals with Modrow, a reform-minded Communist whose interim Cabinet will govern only until free elections March 18.
East Germany's parliament passed a constitutional amendment and legislation Tuesday setting rules for the elections.
The new parliament will have 400 seats, 100 fewer than the current People's Chamber, and no minimum percentage of the vote will be needed for a party to win seats. In West Germany, a party must get 5 percent of the vote.
Modrow, addressing the parliament, said representatives of the two Germanys should ``begin preparing the '2-plus-4' conference as soon as possible.'
At a meeting in Ottawa, Canada, last week, the United States, Soviet Union, Britain and France agreed with East and West Germany on a two-stage plan for reunification.