Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Hollande depicted as Hitler

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Boko Haram crisis: Militants forced from north eastern Nigerian town

Read more

REPORTERS

Syria: Wresting control of Kobani from IS group

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

A who's who of the 'Bettencourt trial'

Read more

FOCUS

Golan Heights on edge...

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Eugene Kaspersky: Cyber attacks on critical infrastructure 'just a question of time'

Read more

#THE 51%

Equality in the workplace: Bridging the gender pay gap

Read more

ENCORE!

The culture stars trying to save the world

Read more

#TECH 24

Technology helping visually impaired people

Read more

Europe

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

  • MUSIC

    Echoes of the Wall, from Bowie to the Hoff

    Read more

  • BERLIN WALL

    Behind the Iron Curtain, a FRANCE 24 special report

    Read more

  • 20TH ANNIVERSARY

    Rebuilding the wall - with giant dominoes

    Read more

COMMENT(S)