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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 4 Apr 1990

Vol. 124 No. 14

Unification of Germany: Motion.

I move:

That Seanad Éireann welcomes the unification of Germany.

It gives me great pleasure to move this motion. "Wir ist nicht bange, das Deutschland nicht eins werde." They are not my words but the words of Göethe in Gespräche mit Eckermann, Talks with Eckermann. Eckermann was to Göethe what Boswell was to Johnson. He said he had no doubt but that Germany would become one. His words were very prophetic. He thought Germany would become one because of trade and the excellent roads and railways coming into existence. If we look at the West German economy at the moment we can see why anybody would want to be one with them. Before we look to the future let us look at history. The unconditional surrender of the German armed forces which brought the Second World War in Europe to an end on 8 May 1945 led to the political collapse of Germany. In contrast to the end of the First World War the whole of Germany was now occupied by the four Allied forces and the Germans were relieved of all governmental functions. The second defeat signalled the end of the German nation state which had been established by Bismarck in 1871 and decisions were soon taken by the occupying forces, which still influence matters to the present day, principally because their political and social aims soon proved to be incompatible. Germany soon became an ideological battle ground between the two super powers, the United States of America on the one hand and the Soviet Union on the other.

The conflict between them led eventually to the division of Germany in 1949 into two states each of which in turn was incorporated into an opposing political and military bloc. On the Soviet side the political structure became a Communist structure which included collectivisation of land and property and the nationalisation of industries and banks. The Western allies encouraged the establishment of a parliamentary democracy and the process was completed on 23 May 1949 by the passing of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany.

West German politicians and parties agreed by a large majority to accept the temporary — I stress the word "temporary"— division of their country even though this was a hard pill for most of them to swallow.

They accepted, however, that this was the only practical way of getting the country back on its feet, at least in the Western zone, and they hoped that by building a thriving economy they might be assisting in the eventual re-unification of their country. There had been attempts by Germans to stop the division of their country. The most notable meeting was the Munich Conference of Prime Ministers which was, in fact, the only meeting of all the leaders of the German Länder. Their attempts failed because of the limits imposed by the forces of occupation and also because of the differing political views which were developing in both zones and which were quickly becoming irreconcilable.

The East/West confrontations reached a peak at the time of the dispute over Berlin, the former capital. The Soviets imposed a blockade of all land and water routes into Berlin on 24 June 1948 because of currency reform in the Western zone. The Western allies responded to this with an airlift to the two million people who were then the inhabitants of Berlin. For 11 months those two million people were supplied exclusively by air transport until the Soviets lifted their blockade on 12 May 1949. During the siege the division became complete and separate administrations were set up in the Eastern and Western parts of the famous old city. Berlin was truly divided. That was sad but at least the complete annexation of Berlin into Soviet territory had been avoided.

The Western powers in the early part of 1948 instructed the Prime Ministers of the Länder to draft a new constitution for a West German state. The Prime Ministers were reluctant and only because of the blockade of Berlin and the pressure from the then mayor of Berlin, Ernst Reuter did they agree to establish a "provisional arrangement". The Federal Republic was officially established on 23 May 1949 and the Soviets followed suit by setting up the German Democratic Republic on 7 October 1949. The division of Germany was now complete.

The occupation of the Federal Republic continued until 23 October, 1954 when the new state received full sovereignty. The occupation ended but still remained in some ways because the three Western powers retained the right to station their armed forces in the Federal Republic even though the Federal Republic joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on 5 May, 1955. The whole future relationship between the Federal Republic and the three Western powers was defined in the Bonn Convention of 26 May, 1952. Article 7 of that Convention states:

The signatory States are agreed that an essential aim of their common policy is a peace settlement for the whole of Germany, freely negotiated between Germany and her former enemies, which should lay the foundation for a lasting peace. They further agree that the final determination of the boundaries of Germany must await such a settlement.

In the same Article they note that they... will co-operate to achieve, by peaceful means, their common aim of a re-unified Germany enjoying a liberal-democratic constitution like that of the Federal Republic, and integrated within the European Community.

All of the agreements between the victorious powers and the two German states had provisional character under international law. They were regarded as a modus vivendi.

Richard Von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, in an address to the Berlin Senate on the twentieth anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall — he was then the governing mayor of Berlin and the date was 13 August, 1981 — stated:

Observers in East Berlin called August 13, 1961 the secret founding day of the German Democratic Republic. The wall is the archetypal and anti-human construction. It is politic's petrified rejection of humanity. The reasons for the construction of the wall are quickly told. Fearing a worldwide lack of credibility the Socialist Union Party SED, the Communists, made a full scale attempt to stem the continuing flow of people out of their own sphere of power. The aim of the SED was the consolidation of their own State.

Richard Von Weizsäcker said:

In truth it could not possibly represent an instrument of consolidation. The Berliners are not becoming accustomed to it. Indeed, how could a thinking and feeling person have expected that they would?

The famous man who banged his shoes, Khrushchev, obviously recognised that very early on. Speaking to the German Ambassador he said, "I know that the Wall is an ugly thing. One day it will disappear again, though not before the reasons that have led to its construction cease to apply." The Wall has gone and I have a piece of it in my briefcase which I intend to keep for all time. I might even have it mounted and put on my wall. If we follow Khrushchev then the reasons for its construction no longer apply. Khrushchev meant: The Wall is necessary in order to consolidate the GDR. Apparently, the Soviet Union has decided either that such a consolidation is impossible or that with the new Soviet policy it is no longer wanted. Possibly both reasons apply: The Wall was not strong enough to keep the East Germans in — the Hungarians saw to that — and the Soviet Union decided to give way to the self-determination of peoples.

I would like to quote Göethe who explains it better than I could. He said:

Who will withstand the masses? Not I, I stand back and observe. The masses busy themselves, hurry here, hurry there, until finally they are once more one.

Von Weizsäcker also said:

The Wall reminds us every day that city, country and continent are divided. Inadvertently, however, it also proves to us every day that we belong together, above and beyond it. It will not last. The freedom and worth of the individual compel us. They will prove the stronger".

The Berlin Wall was not the result of the Second World War as many people think. People forget that the war ended in 1945 while the wall only went up in 1961. Equally, Germany after World War Two was to be treated as a unit — this was agreed at Potsdam — the divisions only came with the Cold War. The creation of the GDR was the outcome of the Cold War and of the attempt to divide Europe into two ideological groupings. This intention has failed and, with its failure, the division of Germany comes to an end. It no longer makes sense.

Charles de Gaulle said: "The German question is the European problem par excellence". Germany is divided because Europe is divided and Europe is divided because Germany is divided. We cannot want Europe and not want unity. De Gaulle also said: "In such a united Europe France will always be France, Italy always Italy. In such a Europe Germany can be nothing else but Germany".

In the new European order — the European Community — all member states have transferred substantial elements of their sovereignty. All European peoples, including the German people, have the right to live in their national state. These national states are connected as equal partners in the Community. as long as the Iron Curtain existed, the Poles, Czechs, Slovacs, the Hungarians and the Germans were denied the right to decide themselves over their own future. Now that the Soviet Union makes that attempt to harmonise its own security interests with the interests of the other nations in Europe a new era has begun. This united Europe will guarantee the peace between the great world powers. It is no longer a necessity to maintain the largest conglomeration of military might on German soil. Once the absurd military effort is a thing of the past, all nations, especially the Soviet Union, will be able to devote their resources to the rebuilding of their societies. In a European Community there is no place for the old game of balance of power which led to catastrophic developments in Europe twice in one century, rather what strengthens one state should be regarded as a strengthening of the Community.

In relation to what I said about the Soviet Union I would now like to quote from the text of Chancellor Kohl's statement to the press in Moscow on 10 February. He said:

This evening I have a singular message to convey to all Germans. General Secretary Gorbachev and I are in agreement that it is the sole right of the German people to decide whether or not they want to live in one state.

General Secretary Gorbachev gave me an unequivocal pledge that the Soviet Union will respect the German decision to live in one state and that is a matter for the Germans themselves to determine the point in time and the road to take for unification.

General Secretary Gorbachev and I were also in agreement that the German question can only be solved on the basis of the realities that exist, in other words they must be embedded in the overall architecture of Europe and in the overall process of East-West relations. We must take into account the justified interests of neighbours as well as our friends and partners in Europe and the world. It is now up to us, the Germans in the Federal Republic and in the GDR to travel this common road with prudent judgment and with determination.

What do the other peoples of Europe think of German unification? What about the people of Poland? Professor Geremek, chairman of the Solidarity parliamentary group was quoted as saying that he was "in favour of the Germans reuniting" in an article which went on:

He allowed that safeguards would have to be built in to ensure that a unified Germany would not be a threat to any other country, but "my main point is that the Germans have the right to unification".

Michnik, a member of Parliament and chief editor of the pro-Solidarity daily Gazeta Wyborcza expressed himself still more clearly on the subject. Geremek was right, wrote Michnik. It is not just a moral imperative; Polish reasons of state dictate that we grant the Germans what we claim for ourselves; namely the right to a state”. German's abnormal situation, he said cast a shadow on Polish-German relations.

Those quotations are from an article on Poland's view on German reunification by Stefan Deitrich in German Comments.

What about the French view? President Mitterrand on 22 December 1989 in Berlin said:

It's of great interest to me, but the democratic process is ultra simple: the East Germans and West Germans are going to vote. When they have voted, they will have Members of Parliament. Majorities will emerge from those Members of Parliament, and Governments from those majorities and they will have programmes, platforms. If on both sides the platform is "immediate unification" the problem will be posed democratically.

Following a meeting with Chancellor Kohl on 4 January 1990 President Mitterrand was asked a question on the inviolability of the frontiers in Europe and he replied:

I said this in Berlin. There is an intrinsic difference between the frontiers established by treaties, agreements, acts after 1945, which were very specifically, with quite a few mistakes, defined nationalities, and the problem of the German frontier that was invented to separate one and the same people.

I will repeat that because President Mitterand said it, "and...the German frontier that was invented to separate one and the same people".

What about the other members of the European Community? I wish to quote from the Conclusions of the Presidency of the European Council at Strasbourg on 8 and 9 December 1989. The declaration on Central and Eastern Europe is pertinent. It is:

Each day in Central and Eastern Europe change is asserting itself more strongly. Everywhere a powerful aspiration towards freedom, democracy, respect of human rights, prosperity, social justice and peace is being expressed. The people are clearly showing their will to take their own destiny in hand and to choose the path of their development. Such a profound development would not have been possible without the policy of openness and reform led by Mr. Gorbachev.

We seek the strengthening of the state of peace in Europe in which the German people will regain its unity through free self-determination. This process should take place peacefully and democratically, in full respect of the relevant agreements and treaties and of all the principles defined by the Helsinki Final Act, in a context of dialogue and East-West cooperation. It also has to be placed in the perspective of European integration.

What have the East Germans to say about this? On 18 November 1989 Dr. Hans Modrow, chairman of the Council of Ministers, had this to say at the Twelfth Session of the People's Chamber of the German Democratic Republic:

I welcome the agreed meeting between Council of State Chairman Egon Krenz and Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and I wish to add that the Government of the GDR is ready for talks on all issues within its competence, and that will now be a full competence. This offer is also addressed to political and economic policy-makers in the FRG and other European countries who, for example, contemplate or wish to examine an involvement in the GDR's economy or have proposals to make to this effect.

He went on to say:

Despite all the dissimilarity of their social systems the two German states share a centuries-old common history. Both of them should realise the inherent chance to lend their relationship the character of a distinct good-neighbourliness".

We all know what has happened since then. On 18 March this year the Germans in the GDR impressively opted for freedom and unity, for democracy and a social market economy, for Europe and peace. What about here in Ireland? The Irish Council of the European Movement, of which I am an executive member, announced that they had sent a memorandum to the Taoiseach urging him to launch a comprehensive initiative during Ireland's Presidency of the European Community to support German unification and the development of the new democracies in Eastern Europe. I have no doubt that a very positive response will be forthcoming from our Taoiseach, both in his role as President and in his role as Taoiseach, because he more than any other person is well aware of the troubles that can be caused by divisions in a country.

Here we go.

In his reply upon his return from the meeting in Strasbourg on 8 and 9 December he said:

The Council expressed its support for the German people to regain their unity through self-determination in conditions of peace and stability, with full respect for all relevant agreements and treaties and respecting the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and in the context of dialogue and East-West co-operation. It is emphasised that this has to be placed in the perspective of Community integration.

He also said that on the occasion of the opening of the Berlin Wall he sent a message to Chancellor Kohl conveying our support and best wishes on an historic occasion for all Germans. Although I do not speak for the Government, I am sure we will not be wanting in support of our friends in Germany.

Hans Dietrich Genscher, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, addressing a special session of the WEU Assembly in Luxembourg on 23 March 1990, said:

German history has never belonged to us Germans alone, nor will our future belong to us alone. The destiny of the German nation is inextricably linked to Europe's destiny. The two German states want to become a driving force behind the development that overcomes the division of Europe. The Germans in East-West have long been in agreement on this point. German soil must never again be the source of war but the source of peace. We seek the process of German unification of the context of the Economic Community integration, the CSCE process, partnership for stability, the construction of a common European house and the creation of a pan-European peaceful order. We Germans do not want to go it alone or to follow a separate path. We want to take the European path. We seek dynamically evolving stability for the whole of Europe.

He went on to say:

In its resolution of 8 March 1990 the German Bundestag advocated that as soon as possible after the elections in the GDR the two freely elected German Parliaments and Governments issued an identical declaration essentially stating the following:

The Polish people are assured that the right to live in secure borders will not be questioned by us Germans through territorial claims either now or in future. We realise that the finality of Poland's western border at the Oder and Neisse rivers is a fundamentalist pre-requisite of peace in Europe.

Dr. Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the opening of the CSCE Conference on economic co-operation in Europe in Bonn on 19 March 1990, said:

For nearly 40 years we have resolutely helped build the European Community. We have surrendered considerable sovereign powers, especially in the economic field, and are willing to take further steps towards integration which must strengthen parliamentary responsibility in particular. As early as 1957 with our partners in the Treaties of Rome we left the door open for the GDR. We start from the assumption that a united Germany will be a member of the Community without the necessity of any further amendments to these and subsequent Treaties.

In 1953 Thomas Mann stated, "We want not a German Europe but a European Germany".

Richard von Weisecker, on assuming office in 1984, described the task of the Germans as follows:

The German people live in both German states. We wish to make our contribution towards the future in order to live inwardly and outwardly in peace, to overcome the division of Germany, to further the unification of Europe and to fulfil our responsibility in the world. There are two basic facts that characterise the situation. One is that of belonging to the West and having chosen the basic values of the liberal and social state based on the rule of law. The choice is definitive and irrevocable. It is on this spiritual and humane ground that German membership of the European Community and the Atlantic Alliance is based.

He continued:

Our desire for this partnership is no opportunistic episode of brief duration and by no means a counter to our German identity but rather an indispensable part of it.

He went on:

As beautiful as Tenerife is and as important as Silicon Valley may be for our development, the innovative reconstruction of the Semper Opera in Dresden and the life of the Christian congregations in the GDR also touch deeply. An elementary human affiliation joins us Germans in East and West which enforced partition and the passage of time have not allowed to die away. What binds a people in two German states to one another can only flourish in peace time. The Germans have no more anxiety or love of peace than other peoples but their affiliation transcending pact borders endows them with a special impulse towards peace.

Anybody who doubts that statement could look at the statement of 1 September 1989 by Helmut Kohl on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of World War II entitled "Remembrance, Sorrow, Warning, Responsibility". He said:

The founders of the Federal Republic of Germany shaped this, the second German democracy, in the light of the experience of German history. They led our country back to the path of liberal traditions which neither war nor tyranny had been able to destroy.

We can take pride in our liberal constitution, in which we

—acknowledge the absolute precedence of human dignity in all areas of life;

—reject war and force as a political tool as well as any revanchism, a decision that was endorsed not least by German expelees in the 1950 Stuttgart Charter;

—are committed to the goal of a free and united Germany in a free and united Europe.

He paid tribute to those people of the resistance who during the war fought for peace and fought to bring Germany back to that road. In particular he made reference to a number of people whose names I should like to place on the record. They are the cabinet-maker Johann Georg Elser, Colonel Claus Graf Schenck von Stauffenberg, the Kreisau Circle around Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, the White Rose personified by Sophie and Hans Scholl, such steadfast people as Julius Leaber and Carl Goerdeler, and the many others who, on grounds of conscience, courageously opposed tyranny. He mentioned one other man who has been mentioned time and again in the Seanad. He was a young man who in 1944 at the age of 32 risked his life to rescue in Budapest 100,000 Jews who were threatened with death. In 1945 he was deported to the Soviet Union and has been missing ever since. I did not raise the matter here before but some other Senators did and I supported them. I hope this man will one day be made a citizen of Ireland. He has been made a citizen of several other countries. I refer to Raoul Wallenberg.

I sincerely hope that this motion will be passed unanimously and that Seanad Éireann will offer it as a small gift towards a reunited Germany. I should like to see a reunited Germany take its place among the nations of Europe in a free and united European Community. I started with a quotation and I will end with one from Friedrich von Schiller's William Tell:

A single unified united people or brothers let us be nor be divided in any danger or emergency.

Das ist ein schöner gedenke.

If it were not out of order I join the Leas-Chathaoirleach in extending a very warm welcome to our German parliamentary colleagues who have graced the sitting this evening. I will have to refrain from doing so.

I support the motion that Seanad Éireann welcomes the unification of Germany and I compliment our Minister for Foreign Affairs on convening the special Summit meeting in Dublin Castle on 28 March last on all the questions involved, not least that of the inclusion of East Germany in the Community. I hope that the European Community will give a warm welcome and take very positive steps to assist in the unification of this country by providing whatever aid is practicable and possible. Of course I accept that it is a matter for the German people themselves, that we have seen in the recent East German elections that the people have spoken in no uncertain way. They have very clearly voted in favour of the policies supported by Chancellor Kohl of West Germany. How could we, as a nation, take any other line but to support this movement because the right of self-determination is a democratic principle, endorsed by the Charter of the United Nations, which has long been supported, upheld and defended by successive Irish Governments and, indeed, by Ministers for Foreign Affairs.

I have no doubt but that the implications of German unity at this time will affect all the people of Europe, the Community of Twelve, the EFTA countries and the rest of Europe. As full members of the European Community we cannot but recognise the fact that the involvement of the Federal Republic of Germany in unification with East Germany will have a profound effect on the policies and economy of the 11 other EC member states. The Community had an opportunity to discuss this entire programme at length at the last meeting in Strasbourg at the end of last year. I would guess that the unification of Germany will move on the fast lane, and I presume that the Germans would themselves desire to have the task completed well before 1 January 1993. In that way it would have a less profound effect on the Community partners.

It is very gratifying to note that so far unification has advanced in a most peaceful and democratic manner and, it has moved out from under the four allied partners of the last war. I am very happy that their strategies should be so irrelevant at this particular time. I believe that the unification of Germany will strengthen peace in all of Europe and will in a practical way implement the principles defined by the Helsinki Final Act. I hope that the Community will, through dialogue and East-West co-operation, put the series of agreements we have been considering for decades into practice and that the entire exercise will move along in the context of European integration.

This debate will help to stimulate and focus public attention on the evolution of Europe and on Ireland's place and role in it. However it is regrettable that this is the first opportunity the Seanad has had to make any input into the policies of Europe and the evolution of Europe this year. This is the first time our Members have had an opportunity to express a welcome, a profound welcome, to the developments the world has witnessed. It is really great to see the rule of law and the respect for human and civil rights emerging in those ancient countries of Europe. Indeed the revolutions we have witnessed and which continue to happen day by day are based on the idea of liberty and independence. As far as I can see when the general public in any country decide that they require freedom, both personal and national, with the help of people power of the nineties it is not possible for any force to intervene or to stop them. We should have generous support and encouragement for the people who have decided to transform their own living and working conditions.

The new movement in Eastern Europe should be a source of consolation, support and help to the policy makers and decision makers here in Western Europe because it clearly demonstrates that the policies of the European Community are on the right track and that the policies designed in the socialist republics, Marxism, Leninism and Communism, have been clearly shown to have failed the people they were designed to assist and to liberate. I think we should take that lesson from it and be clearly supportive of the Community institutions and redouble our efforts to ensure that the dynamic dimension of the Community should continue over the next crucial decade in the history of Europe.

I have been a supporter and an advocate of European Union since it was first raised here in 1962. It is true that I have always admired the work of the founding fathers of the European Community and it would be most gratifying for them to see the success of their efforts — on which I suppose many people did not put great value after the last World War. The great change in the East has come about since the Chernobyl accident when Western countries so generously poured in aid and assistance, experts and material help to those people who were so adversely affected by that catastrophe. That, to my mind, was the first occasion the Russians and Eastern Europeans witnessed the desire of the rest of Europe and, indeed, the free world, to give genuine assistance without any strings attached. There is a school of thought which suggests that action in support of all this reform began in and in the main is being concentrated on Poland and Hungary where for the last decade they have been looking towards the West.

The response of the group of 24, chaired by the Commission of European Communities, has been recognised for what it is: a genuine desire to help and to be of economic assistance. Of course there is a tremendous problem facing the East German population. When we consider that the East German people were at the mercy of propaganda for the past 40 years or more, there will be major difficulties in merging with the highly educated, wealthy and sophisticated population of the Federal Republic. I, for one, wish Chancellor Kohl and his Government success and congratulate them on what they are so unselfishly setting out to do.

The German question has come to the fore, just as the Single European Act comes into its own. Two features of this new Europe are of particular relevance in the present situation; the growing complexity of its political system which renders the simplistic notions of national sovereignty rather obscure and the increasingly high international profile of the European Community institutions. The Single European Act, through its introduction of qualified majority voting and its extension of the powers of the European Parliament, transformed the political system of the European Community.

Once the principle of majority voting was accepted in certain key areas of Community business the practice spilled over. Even though the national interest was fiercely fought for in regard to the virtual abandonment of the veto, there has been a marked tendency across the Community to tamper with unilateral initiatives and ambitions, which indeed bend with the prevailing wind.

The decision that no one State can dominate and no one State can block represents a tremendous advance in Community decision-making. It is difficult to see how a United Germany augmented by the addition of 16 million citizens, but without I believe any increase in voting power in the Community institutions, can change that particular trend. Leadership is one thing but dominance is another.

Of immediate significance to the European Community is its formal stake in the definition of the new Germanys' external frontier. This question has been raised to some extent already. This is only one aspect of an extremely complex list of issues which will have to be discussed between the two Germanys and the Community institutions. Nobody seriously doubts that East Germany will be absorbed rather than admitted into the Community. Important questions will arise about the implications for the Community budget of the extension of the Common Agricultural Policy to an area which has traditionally been of crucial importance to German agriculture and the arrangements involved in affording East German industries temporary assistance. For that reason we must not forget that the initiative does not lie only with the Germans themselves.

The position of NATO must be addressed. A strong united Germany must be a part of NATO, While I readily agree that the importance of defence and security issues will decline over the next decade as economic and monetary union looms large on the horizon the Community will still be faced with the prospect of a full member nation paying at least one billion DM a year for 360,000 Soviet troops on Community territory. Perhaps they can all be negotiated away. This is the kind of de facto situation we will find ourselves in if solutions are not found. I am sure solutions can be found and I wish the people involved in the negotiations every success in doing that. An imaginative gesture of generosity by Germany's partners would not go amiss in these negotiations.

Having been an observer for the past few years, I believe that the Bonn-Brussels axis is now much stronger than the Paris-Brussels axis. The obvious visible good relations between Dr. Kohl, and Mr. Delors and Mr. Genscher augur well for the success of whatever negotiations are entered into. The EC-US discussions on the new relationship, the EC negotiations with eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and the European Community negotiators with EFTA are all taking place in tandem. We are living in very interesting and truly historic times. European history is being made almost on a daily basis. Events which we would have thought were completely impossible six or 12 months ago have now taken place throughout central and eastern Europe. Because the European Community has become the mainspring of European integration the impact on recent developments has been crucial and is now the natural focus for the emerging European order.

The Single European Act of 1987 and the objective of completing the Internal Market by 1992 has made the Community the centre of attraction for the rest of Europe and the envy of the rest of the world. The Community's relations with the countries of central and eastern Europe are developing rapidly as the pace of their transition to democracy and a market-orientated economy quickens. This year the Community have trade cooperation agreements not only with the East German Republic but with Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland and the USSR.

The reason I should like a united Germany to be part of NATO is because I believe military power will play a dwindling role in Europe as economic power gains importance in the decades ahead.

Senator, you have exceeded your time.

I appreciate your indulgence.

Acting Chairman

Senator Ross.

I think the Minister wants to get in first.

Foreign Affairs (Mr. Calleary): Thank you, Senator.

I should like to begin by commending the Seanad on organising this debate on such a significant and timely subject. This debate is taking place on the day the Minister for Foreign Affairs addressed the European Parliament on the same subject.

The recent elections in East Germany, whose results have given a major impetus to the unification process, where a clear and decisive expression of that will to freedom and self-determination which was so evident in the dramatic opening of the Berlin Wall on 9 November last. The collapse of the Wall has become a powerful symbol of our time — a symbol of hope for all Europeans, east and west. Since the developments in relation to German unification have been moving very fast, and it is important that this House should have an opportunity to take stock of them and consider their implications for Ireland and the European community.

I have listened with great attention to the well thought out and well researched speech of Senator Lydon and to the very relevant comments which have been made by Senator McDonald, based on his vast experience of European matters and I welcome the opportunity to set out the Government's views on this topic.

As Senators will recall, the Government's policy on German unification was outlined in the Dáil by the Taoiseach in reply to a question on 13 December last. As the Taoiseach noted on that occasion, the right to self-determination is a principle endorsed by the Charter of the United Nations. Ireland supports the right of the peoples of the Federal Republic of Germany and of the German Democratic Republic to determine their own future by a free democratic process.

As the Taoiseach also pointed out on 13 December, the Twelve Heads of State or Government of the European Community, at their summit meeting in Strasburg, reaffirmed their support for the strengthening of the state of peace in Europe in which the German people will regain its unity through free self-determination. They said that this process should take place peacefully and democratically, in a context of dialogue and East-West co-opearation, in full respect of the relevant agreements and treaties and of all the principles defined in the Helsinki Final Act. The Strasbourg Declaration also specified that progress towards German unity should be placed in the perspective of European integration.

Let me make it quite clear that Ireland wholeheartedly welcomes the prospect of German unification. Progress towards German unification must be seen as part of the remarkable transformation which is taking place in central and eastern Europe as a whole, which in turn has been influenced by the process of reform and openness pursued in Moscow under Mr. Gorbachev. Just as the origins of events in Germany must be seen in a wider context, so must their results: the coming together of the two German states must contribute, and be seen to contribute, to the overcoming of the division of Europe. The regaining of their unity by the German people should become a sign of hope for all the peoples of this continent. It presents us with an historic opportunity to forge a new set of relationships based on a spirit of genuine co-operation and an end to confrontation.

While German unification is first of all a matter for the German people themselves, its implications will affect all the people of Europe in particular the Federal Republic's partners in the European Community. Unification and the consequent incorporation of what is now the German Democratic Republic into the Community will present us with major challenges, which will have to be addressed. The meeting of Heads of State or Government of the European Community which the Taoiseach has convened for 28 April, will provide an opportunity for a first examination at the level of Heads of State or Government of the implications of unity for the Community. Major issues to be discussed will include how the Community can best contribute to the adaptation of the the GDR regions to the system of policy and law which the Community has evolved over nearly four decades. We will also have to ensure that the targets set for the Community's own development — the completion of the Internal Market by December 1992 and the launching of economic and monetary union — will stay on track while we address the challenge of German unification.

Discussion at this meeting will be assigned by papers being prepared by the Commission on the implications of unification for the community. In preparation for this summit, the Taoiseach is also currently undertaking a tour of Community capitals to ascertain the views of partners. As the Taoiseach said after his meeting with Chancellor Kohl on 28 March, "we hope that the Dublin summit `will send out a reassuring statement to the European community and to our friends that unification will take place very smoothly and with no fall-out for anyone, particularly in the financial and economic areas'." Of course, detailed consideration, within the community framework, of the impact of unification will continue after 28 April.

An essential aspect of the unification process is that it is firmly rooted in the context of European integration. The Federal Republic was made it clear that what they are seeking is a "European Germany, not a German Europe". Chancellor Kohl has reiterated his Government's commitment to the Community, of which it will remain one of the motive forces, and in particular to completion of the Internal Market and to the goals of economic and monetary union and political union. He has repeatedly stressed his Government's desire to maintain close co-operation and consultation with Community partners.

An indication of this commitment to the Community is shown in Chancellor Kohl's recent statement that German unification and European political union were two sides of the same coin. This and other ideas which have been put forward in recent weeks suggests that there is a strong conviction that the opportunity has to be grasped to push forward with political union, in parallel with the work which the Community is pledged to start in December on economic and monetary union. As the Taoiseach indicated last week, the Government share this view. We would consider that the appropriate approach would be to hold two parallel intergovernmental conferences — one should deal with economic and monetary union while the other should consider issues related to institutional and European poitical co-operation matters. The meeting of Heads of State or Government later this month will provide an opportunity to discuss this proposal further and see if a consensus emerges. Obviously, both of these intergovernmental conferences will have to be carefully prepared.

German unity will affect all the peoples of Europe. As Senators will be aware, talks on the external aspects of German unity will shortly begin at ministerial level between the Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. These will be followed by negotiations between these two Governments and the Governments of the USA, UK, France and the USSR. We understand that the topics discussed will include security matters concerning neighbouring countries as well as the military status of a united Germany. The need to take account in these negotiations of the concerns of Poland and of other states has been recognised. It is also expected that the issue of German unification will give a major impetus to the work which will culminate in the CSCE summit later this year.

Although the Community does not participate directly in the "2+4" talks, consultations within the EPC framework on the relevant external aspects of German unification are already taking place.

On the question of our national position on the military status of a united Germany, Senators may wish to note that my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs indicated in the Dáil on 13 March, in reply to a question, that the issue of the status of a united Germany is one for that country to pursue. The Helsinki Final Act provides that states have the right to belong, or not to belong, to treaties of alliance; they also have the right to neutrality.

The question of the borders of a united Germany is another issue which has received a great deal of prominence. This topic must be seen in the context of the Helsinki Final Act, to which both the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic have subscribed. That document, to which Ireland and all other European countries, except Albania, together with the United States and Canada, have also subscribed, provides that "the participating states regard as inviolable all one another's frontiers". It also provides that "their frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement". The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany itself has declared that a solution to the German question can only be achieved within the framework of the CSCE process. Obviously, we welcome this declaration.

Particular concern has been expressed on the question of respect for the current eastern border of Poland. Senators will recall that on 8 March the West German Parliament adopted a resolution recommending that, as soon as possible after the German Democratic Republic's elections on 18 March the Parliaments of the Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic should both declare that the right of the people of Poland to live within secure borders will not be questioned by German territorial claims either now or in the future. The resolution also declared that the border question should be settled in a treaty between the Governments of a unified Germany and of Poland. Subsequently, it has been agreed that Poland will participate in the "2+4" talks when matters which particularly concern its borders are being discussed.

It is clearly very important that the views of all those who might be affected by German unification should be taken into account. However, I consider that the assurances which have been provided by the Government of the Federal Republic and the negotiating and consultations mechanisms which have been agreed will ensure that this will happen. Also, Chancellor Kohl has declared that Germans respect the legitimate security interests of all European countries, especially those of their neighbours.

I said at the beginning of my statement that the coming together of the two German states must be seen as an opportunity for a much wider rapprochement in Europe. The Twelve will work to ensure that German unity becomes both the inspiration and the instrument for bringing about a new quality in relationships between a whole range of European countries and indeed with Europe as a whole. The Community is ready to deepen its ties with Central and Eastern Europe and is also engaged in negotiations of the creation of an economic space which will include both the Twelve member states of the Community and the six members of EFTA.

The Community will also have to continue to take into account the interests of its Mediterranean and ACP partners, as well as the concerns of the other countries with whom it has close economic and trading links. A self-centred Europe would be completely unacceptable, and the Government will work to ensure it does not come about.

A Chathaoirligh, a Sheanadóiri, thank you for your attention.

Debate adjourned.

Acting Chairman

When is it intended to sit again?

It is intended that this House stand adjourned until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.