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.