World leaders make Berlin Wall call for justice
Berlin -- A Berlin Wall anniversary plea by world leaders for a new fight against 'tyranny' was hailed on Tuesday as Germany cleared away its dominoes of freedom.
"Even the sky was weeping with joy," screamed a headline in the mass circulation Bild — a reference to the driving rain throughout the "Freedom Party" on Monday which drew more than 100,000 revellers to the route of the Berlin Wall that was torn down 20 years ago.
November 9 "was the happiest day in recent German history," Chancellor Angela Merkel said in parliament on Tuesday. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said November 9 had become the new unofficial national German day.
In emotion-charged speeches evoking the night when the Wall, a symbol of the Cold War division of Europe, was torn down without a shot fired, world leaders said Berliners’ spirit should inspire a new campaign for justice.
In a surprise video address that delighted the cheering crowds, US President Barack Obama said: "Today, there are still those who live within the walls of tyranny, human beings that are denied the very human rights that we celebrate today."
"That is why this day is for them as much as it is for us."
"The fall of the Berlin Wall is an appeal, an appeal to all to vanquish oppression, to knock down the walls that throughout the world still divide towns, territories, peoples," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the world’s oppressed should draw inspiration from the East Germans who broke the shackles of their communist regime and forced their way peacefully to freedom.
"Let me thank you, the people of Berlin for showing that in a troubled world with an Africa in poverty, a Darfur in agony, a Zimbabwe in tears and a Burma in chains, individuals even when in pain need not suffer forever without hope," said Brown.
Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, called for a new "world order" to combat global problems such as climate change and crises on the financial markets.
"This world will only be a peaceful and good world if we have more of a world order and more multilateral co-operation," she said.
The global leaders of today and luminaries of 1989 including the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Solidarity trade union chief Lech Walesa joined the leaders to watch the fall of more than 1,000 styrofoam dominoes which traced the Berlin Wall route.
The dominoes are now to go into museums or go back to the schools that painted them.
The overriding feeling in Berlin the day after the party was one of joy and pride as the eyes of the world turned to their city.
"It rained buckets … but nevertheless, it was a lavish party. More than 100,000 Berliners and tourists celebrated at the Brandenburg Gate and made Berlin, yet again, so proud and so happy," said the Berliner Zeitung daily.
Photos of the spectacular firework display, concert, and the giant foam dominos were splashed across front pages — and not just in Germany.
"150,000 brave the rain in Berlin to watch the Wall fall for a second time," ran the headline in Portugal’s Jornal de Noticias.
"Europe celebrates the fall of the Wall with a grand festival for freedom," said a headline in Spain’s El Pais.
But the feelings of joy were tempered by the realisation that despite an estimated 1.3 trillion euros (1.9 trillion dollars) pouring eastwards since unification in 1990, eastern Germany remains poorer than the west.
Merkel admitted as much: "German unity is still incomplete. We must tackle this problem if we want to achieve equal quality of life."