BRUSSELS — The North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned the Soviet Union Monday that Western assistance may not be forthcoming if there is a return to iron rule.
On the first day of a two-day meeting, NATO foreign ministers agreed that Western aid will depend on continued democratic and economic reforms and is not intended to prop up Gorbachev personally, alliance officials said.
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev is seeking new powers to tackle the political and economic crisis, including a bigger role for the armed forces and the KGB.
"We continue to press them (the Soviets) to ensure that any assistance the West provides is consistent with their long-term objectives of democracy and a market economy," Secretary of State James A. Baker III told the meeting.
"The short-term question the Soviet leadership faces now is not so much whether reform can succeed, but whether anarchy and chaos can be prevented," Baker said.
He said food aid promised by Washington and the European Community to the Soviet Union is not enough when the new democracies of Eastern Europe are also struggling with economic reforms and other problems.
"We cannot ignore those countries that have made the difficult decisions for reform," he said.