This month marked the 30th anniversary since the Berlin Wall came down and brought about the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Soviet Union. On the day the wall came down thousands of East Germans from all over the country crossed into west Berlin. For some it was just a visit for one day before heading back home.
Initially there was a great deal of hesitation and some expected a heavy-handed response from Moscow, but this never happened. It was clear that events were moving ahead at a pace much faster than many expected, including German Chancellor Kohl.
Developments did get out of hand and plans had to be constantly updated including the 10-point plan of Chancellor Kohl prepared in December 1989. The Kremlin did not oppose the change but none of Germany’s neighbours were particularly enthusiastic about unification. Had America not supported unification then surrounding countries may well have succeeded in delaying or diluting this historic moment.
I guess the words spoken by Angela Merkel, the current German chancellor, during the anniversary celebrations may not have gone down well with President Trump. “The Berlin Wall ladies and gentlemen is history and it teaches us: No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it cannot be broken down”.
Today the euphoria of 1989 has long since disappeared and many Germans today are sick of hearing words of positivity that are not reflected on the streets of German cities and towns. The delusion of becoming a bigger version of Switzerland with a Germany rich and secure across all parts of the country has never transpired.
The other Eastern European countries formally ruled from Moscow have not fared as well as some expected. Part of the problem is the fact that some of the old guard are in positions of power today. Ferenc Gyurcsány is a Hungarian entrepreneur and politician and was Prime Minister of Hungary from 2004 to 2009. He was a senior figure in the Communist Youth League during the early 1980s and by 2002 he was listed as the 50th-richest person in Hungary.
In the Czech Republic Czach Andrej Babiš is the current Prime Minister since December 2017 and previously he served as minister of finance and deputy prime minister from 2014 to 2017. Prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall he was a secret police informer, but since then as a businessman he rose to become the second richest man in the Czech Republic, with a net worth of about $4 billion according to Bloomberg.
One of the big downsides of the change in 1989 has been the freedom to travel around the EU. Population numbers in all Eastern European countries have fallen and some of the numbers are very alarming. In Bulgaria the population has fallen by 19 per cent, in Lithuania by 23pc and in Latvia a 27pc decline. There is little or no immigration and as we all know there has been little or no interest from the east when it comes to the EU refugee crisis.
Now that the party is over celebrating the fall of the wall perhaps some of the leadership across Europe will do something meaningful to deal with the hangovers we have today.