PARIS — West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, pressing on with a crusade to unite Europe, said Friday that the Continent is on the threshold of an era that will see the elimination of walls and barbed wire along boundary lines.
Three days after a dramatic North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit marked by Bonn's new political assertiveness, Genscher told an East-West gathering that Europe is rediscovering its identity.
"An undivided Europe without the Iron Curtain, without the (Berlin) Wall and barbed wire, again appears attainable, and it will come," he told a human rights conference.
Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze "is right. The Iron Curtain is disintegrating," Genscher added.
He spoke at the 35-nation Conference on the Human Dimension of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The United States, Canada and all European states except Albania are taking part in the conference.
Genscher echoed President Bush's recent call for a free and open Continent. "Freedom, tolerance, dialogue, human rights and democracy must form the foundation of the common European home. It must be a home with open doors and windows in which everyone can arrange his apartment as he pleases, in which everybody can freely visit the others," he said.
Echoes Speech by Bush
West German officials noted that Bush had used almost the same words in a major speech in Mainz, West Germany, on Wednesday, in which he also called for the demolition of the Berlin Wall.
They also stressed Genscher's reference to Franco-German cooperation, which he said is "currently the most advanced form of collaboration between two states" and the "centerpiece" of the European Community.
The Community, in turn, is "part of the peaceful European order already established (and) a central element of Europe's future structure."
Beyond the 12-nation Community, Genscher told the conference, there is the 23-nation Council of Europe, which includes neutral as well as Western members and, since last month, Communist Poland and Hungary as observers.
"All European countries should join this system for the protection of human rights," Genscher said. There is "nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come, (and) the time of human rights has come."
Genscher praised liberalization in the Soviet Union, Poland and Hungary, but he joined other Western and neutral states in criticizing Romania by name.
"Romania must not stand on the sidelines in the efforts to ensure respect for freedom and human rights," he declared.
The notion that a signer of the 35-nation Helsinki Final Act, such as Romania, can hide human rights problems behind the cloak of "non-interference" has become completely untenable, he said.
Romania registered reservations to a landmark human rights accord reached at a security conference in Vienna in January. The East Bloc nation has come under fire at the follow-up conference now under way in Paris because of reports of government oppression of Hungarian minorities in Romania.