From the Past to the Future
… US president J. Kennedy said about the Wall quite philosophically that the solution, however disturbing, was still better than a war, and at that time almost anybody could subscribe to the point of view. Having divided the world, the two socioeconomic systems with their blocs and the Wall between them had to find a way to coexist … //
… In June, 1990 Gorbachev told G. Bush openly that he would agree to recognize the NATO membership of the unified Germany in case “such would be the will of the German people”. Feeling more than just surprised G. Bush even asked Gorbachev to repeat what he had just said.
Obviously A. Merkel’s statement that Bush “greenlighted” Kohl’s plan does not reflect the reality quite adequately. The situation is even more peculiar with the positions of Great Britain and France.
British Prime Minister M. Thatcher told Gorbachev that the German unification would not be in the interests of Great Britain and Western Europe as a whole, and suggested abandoning the idea altogether. She opined that no overhaul of post-war borders in Europe was needed as destabilization would follow, security would be jeopardized, and all these things could not be allowed to happen. French President F. Mitterrand said a new united Germany would present an even greater threat than it did under Hitler. He believed the German unification would revitalize “bad” Germans who used to dominate Europe and would cause Europe to revert to the situation which existed before World War I.
These are the matters of the past. Currently the united Germany is a recognized European leader with great economic potential, political clout, and international prestige. Berlin largely defines the future of Europe.
Still, there is a particularly important lesson to be learned from the past two decades. The demise of the Berlin Wall failed to lay solid foundations for the pan-European security. Hopes of millions of Europeans to see a better world order have not come true. The wars and conflicts in Abkhazia, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kosovo, Macedonia, Karabakh, former Yugoslavia, and South Ossetia showed that in the world without the stability sustained by the bipolar system there is no traditional respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of countries. Without the basic principles, force has become the main argument in international relations.
Lines from Goethe come to mind: «Geld verloren – nichts verloren, Ehre verloren – viele verloren, Mut verloren – alles verloren, da waerst du besser nicht geboren» (When money is lost, nothing is lost. When honor is lost, everything is lost). It would be great if on November 9 the leaders of Europe and Russia find the political courage to not only admire the fruits of freedom on the ruins of the Berlin Wall, but also to make a real step towards ensuring their efficient protection in the future. (full text).