BONN — Leaders of the Free Democratic Party, the minority partner in the ruling government coalition, criticized Chancellor Helmut Kohl for what they called his recent mishandling of relations with the Soviet Union. They also differed sharply with government-proposed anti-terrorism legislation.
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, a leading member of the Free Democrats, said at the party's pre-election conference in Mainz that he was worried about the chill that has set in recently between Bonn and Moscow.
Genscher said the freeze was the result of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's intemperate remarks to Newsweek magazine comparing Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels.
He pointed out that Moscow had called off four high-level ministerial exchanges with Bonn in the past two weeks and declared:
"I do not take these cancellations lightly. None of us should. Just as in the past, the situation in Europe today is in large part determined by German-Soviet relations."
Kohl has disassociated himself from the remarks but has not apologized to Gorbachev.
In recent statements, Christian Democratic leaders have portrayed the Soviet cancellations as a bald attempt by Moscow to interfere in the West German national elections, which will be held Jan. 25.
Kohl Takes Hard Line
In Munich on Saturday, Kohl continued to take a hard line against the Soviets, declaring to a meeting of the Christian Social Union, the Christian Democrats' sister party in Bavaria, that while he wanted reasonable relations with the Kremlin, it is a "totalitarian party" fighting an ideological battle with the West.
"They do not want war in Europe," Kohl said of the Soviet leaders, "but they want to breed fear and anxiety and nurture feelings of submission."
At the Free Democrats' meeting, the party also rejected a law proposed by the government that would grant immunity to anyone--even murderers--informing on terrorist activities in West Germany.
Instead, the party adopted a compromise bill that would give terrorists reduced penalties if they agreed to testify for the prosecution.
This compromise, which government hard-liners viewed as a sharp setback to their anti-terrorism campaign, is expected to be rejected by the Kohl administration.
Interior Minister Friedrich Zimmermann said the government would prefer to dump the bill entirely rather than weakening it, and he accused the Free Democrats of "deserting the camp" in the fight against terrorism.