martes, 27 de octubre de 2009

El Reto Alemán de 1989 en Le Monde

On 11 November 1989, commenting on the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of the borders by the East German authorities, the French daily newspaper Le Monde speculates on the political future of the Communist regime in the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

What now? Gone the emotion at the sight of gaping holes in the Berlin Wall and the Fort Knox-style border between the two Germanies, but the question remains. Where does this leave us? What next? The answers are not very clear, which no doubt accounts for the cautious Western reactions, starting with that of President Bush, confronted by high-speed history in the making, destination unknown.

For all that the situation is confusing and disorienting, there are a number of quite probable outcomes. The first is that the two Germanies will swiftly reunite their economies. The machinery is in place and will start moving very soon: since the GDR has promised its citizens freedom of movement and free elections, Chancellor Kohl will have no short-term alternative but to keep his promise of massive aid to the East German economy.

Unless West Germany wants to see hundreds of thousands, even millions of East Germans bursting onto its own labour market, with all of the political consequences that that would entail, it will have to do something to improve living standards in the East.

Another obvious fact is that Mr Krenz’s concessions point to the weakness of his position. Will the regime survive genuinely free elections? And, if it transmutes into social democracy, how much legitimacy can it expect to have? De facto political reunification seems to be looming on the horizon, with a super-powerful German economic entity, which will certainly cause some headaches for Bonn’s EEC partners. If West Germany is not careful, and others with it, then it may, in the next few years, find itself focusing increasingly on reconstructing the metamorphosing GDR at the expense of European integration and assistance to Poland and Hungary.

However, Germany is not all alone in the world, and the newly emerging inter-German relations are much too serious to be left to the Germans alone. The European and German order, now collapsing as a result of the crushing economic failure of the Socialist States, had its guarantors. Could it be time for them to get together, show their hand and regain some control of events?

The United States, Great Britain and France, in particular, would do well to start moving in step with Bonn before Mr Gorbachev takes them by surprise. The Soviet foreign affairs spokesman, Gennadi Gerasimov, showed his colours on Thursday. Questioned about the next Bush–Gorbachev ‘non-summit’, to be held off Malta on 2 and 3 December, he simply replied that the meeting could be called ‘from Yalta to Malta’ …

Effondrement, in Le Monde. 1989.11.11, Nr. 13.931; 46e année, S. 1. Übersetzt vom CVCE.
© Translation Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance sur l'Europe (CVCE).

On 23 December 1989, or a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the French newspaper Le Monde ponders the role of reunified Germany within the Europe of the Twelve.

The German challenge

‘The German question will remain open as long as the Brandenburg Gate remains closed.’ This epithet was uttered in 1984 by Richard von Weizsäcker, the then Mayor of West Berlin who later became President of the Federal Republic. The two 15-foot wide holes in the wall on either side of the Gate mark a new stage in the resolution of the ‘German problem’ which has been playing itself out over the course of the Cold War. Although History has been fast-forwarded, causing some elation amongst Germans in both the east and west, what 40 years of division have created by way of reflexes that have become a habit and even a source of comfort cannot be wiped out overnight. This applies to the Germans themselves as well as to their neighbours and allies.

Everyone more or less agrees in principle: the German nation will be united because the Germans want it. This is what François Mitterrand reasserted during his visit to the GDR. It is also the firm belief in NATO and of President Bush. The objections and warnings coming from Moscow are tactics rather than fundamental opposition. The famous ‘German card’ will not be played recklessly or without strong safeguards by a Mikhail Gorbachev anxious to remain on good terms with the military, whose support is vital to him.

Some West German political leaders, such as the former Chancellor, Willy Brandt, insist that reunification is not the ultimate goal. The word smacks too much of the old order which, twice this century, brought suffering to Europe and the entire world. Germany, it is true, still strikes fear, not by its military strength but by the threat of destabilisation resulting from its economic hegemony. The economic and monetary union of the FRG and the GDR will very likely precede political union.

This presents a challenge to a European Community that is struggling to push forward with Jacques Delors’ grand design. The single market, monetary union and a central bank are all elements of a still shaky edifice that have to be rapidly put in place if we want to keep Germany from being tempted to go it alone.

Circumstances are favourable. The overwhelming majority of political leaders are convinced that the country can be unified only as part of a more united, more generous Europe.

The rearguard action led by Margaret Thatcher, who is still defending positions that have been overtaken by events, will tend to lead our German neighbours to close in on themselves, on their resources and on their re-acquired national consciousness. When that happens, we really shall have reason to fear a Germany whose aggression still feeds on its cult of being different.

Le défi allemand, in Le Monde. 23.12.1989, Nr. 13 967; 46e année, S. 1. Übersetzt vom CVCE.

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