Merkel pays tribute to German reunification solidarity
German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid tribute on Saturday to the national solidarity that helped rebuild eastern Germany after the country's reunification 20 years ago.
Merkel, who grew up in formerly communist East Germany, said in a video released on the eve of reunification ceremonies that she, like many Germans, had been struck by how fast the two countries had been reunited.
"I had expected not to be able to travel (abroad) freely until retirement," she said, in a reference to strict restrictions on most East Germans on travelling to the West.
"For people from the former GDR (German Democratic Republic), almost everything has changed," she said, noting the "wave of solidarity" from the former West Germany which contributed billions of euros to modernise the East.
"It's thanks to these joint efforts that we have been able to rebuild so quickly" she added.
In a poll released Friday, 84 percent of Germans said they believed national unification after four decades of division had been the right decision, despite a lingering economic gap between east and west.
© 2010 AFP