Don't miss




Benin feels the pinch of Nigeria's economic woes

Read more


Deutsche Bank shares recover after turbulent week

Read more


Inside Aleppo: 'Feels like prison'

Read more


The Legacy of Shimon Peres, The Battle of Aleppo (Part 1)

Read more


Trump-Clinton Debate, Colombia Peace Deal, Death of the BlackBerry (Part 2)

Read more


Backstage at Paris Fashion Week

Read more


Paris Fashion Week: Saint Laurent, Lanvin, present new designers

Read more

#THE 51%

Online and proud: Iranian women use social media in a campaign for equality

Read more

#TECH 24

Say hello to Pepper!

Read more


Fall of Berlin Wall anniversary marked by Kohl, Bush Sr., and Gorbachev

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-10-31

Helmut Kohl, George H.W. Bush, and Michael Gorbachev – the leaders of Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union in November 1989 – are in Berlin to take part in the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

A look at two people killed crossing the Berlin Wall

AFP - Helmut Kohl, George Bush, and Mikhail Gorbachev hailed their excellent relations at a Berlin cabaret on Saturday, 20 years after the Cold War leaders watched over the Wall's fall.
The German ex-chancellor (1982-1998), US former president (1989-1993) and last Soviet leader (1985-1991) took the stage to share their memories of 1989 in front of a silvery curtain at an historic cabaret venue the Friedrichstadtpalast.
"Mikhail Gorbachev and George Bush were Germany's most important partners," said Kohl, 79, who has been wheelchair-bound since fracturing his hip in February 2008.
"There has never been a relationship that reached the level of my relations with these two gentlemen," he said.

FRANCE24 Correspondent Abby d'Arcy Hughes in Berlin

The "chancellor of reunification," who speaks with difficulty after a stroke left his lower face partially paralysed, saluted Bush as someone to call if you wanted cheering up.

"If you were in a bad mood, you just had to pick up the telephone and call George Bush.... I can assure you that he'd put you in a good mood," he said, to rapturous laughter from the 1,800 people present.

The Berlin Wall: 20 years after the fall

The audience included newly elected German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Hungarian and Polish prime ministers Miklos Nemeth and Tadeus Mazowiecki, as well as ambassadors and other dignitaries.
Major celebrations are planned for November 9, marking two decades since the Berlin Wall came down, heralding the collapse of Soviet communism and the reunification of Germany.
Saluting his "former colleagues," Bush, 85, who also has difficulty moving since a hip operation in 2007, hailed Kohl as "truly a great statesman of the 20th century -- he was a rock, solid!"
"Nevertheless, the events of '89 were not set in motion in Bonn, Moscow or Washington, but in the hearts and minds of the people deprived for too long of their God-given rights," Bush said.
Gorbachev, 78, remembered two leaders who were absent, whose countries occupied West Berlin along with the United States: former British premier Margaret Thatcher, 84 and suffering from Alzheimer's, and former French president Francois Mitterand, who died in 1996.
"Thatcher and Mitterand and myself, we defended the position that there needed to be two Germanys," Gorbachev said. "I'm sorry, Helmut. We didn't have good relations at the start."
Recently declassified documents have shown that Britain was hostile and France trepidatious towards Germany's reunification.
A "Festival of Freedom" is being organised for November 9, during which Merkel will receive guests including Gorbachev, Polish former anti-communist leader Lech Walesa, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
French and Russian presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev will also attend, while US President Barack Obama will be represented by his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Date created : 2009-10-31


    Echoes of the Wall, from Bowie to the Hoff

    Read more


    Behind the Iron Curtain, a FRANCE 24 special report

    Read more


    Rebuilding the wall - with giant dominoes

    Read more