Full Citation

  • Title A day for liberty, but not yet for reunification
  • Author Bevins, Anthony, Political Editor Hilton, Isabel
  • Publication Title The Independent
  • Collection The Independent
  • Date Saturday,  Nov. 11, 1989
  • Issue Number 964
  • Page Number 11
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The Independent
  • Copyright Statement © Independent Print Limited.
A day for liberty, but not yet for reunification MRS THATCHER yesterday hailed the opening of the Berlin Wall as "a great day for freedom, a great day for liberty", and praised the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for the "vision and courage" that had made it possi? ble. But she also dashed Foreign Office hopes that Britain would soon join the United States and France in welcoming the prospect of German reunification. British sources said this week that they expected Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, to join French President Francois Mit? terrand and James Baker, the US Secretary of State, in making a positive statement on reunifica? tion. But when Mrs Thatcher was asked about reunification yester? day, she said, "I think you are go? ing much too fast... You have to take these things step by step and handle them very wisely ... The first thing is to get a genuine multi-party democracy in East Germany," she told reporters in Downing Street, "and I hope that movement will spread to the rest of Eastern Europe." Mr Hurd also said that he did not think reunification was immi? nent. In a radio interview yester? day, he said: "I think the how and the when of that are not on the agenda because what the crowds are pressing for is freedom of choice. "But on the principle of reuni? fication, our position has been clear for many years: it's a ques? tion for the German people; it's a question of self-determination. That is not something which can be denied to the German peo? ple." Neil Kinnock, the Labour lead? er, in Brussels for talks with Jac? ques Delors, the President of the EC Commission, said yesterday: "The melting of the Iron Curtain offers great opportunities but massive challenges, too. Neither By Anthony Bevins Political Editor are going to be met in a matter of weeks or even months." He added: "Co-operation is now much more than an idea, it is an absolute necessity for progress with stability." Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "There is emerging a new framework for European unity which now can extend to the East. "There are tremendous new opportunities for co-operation and integration, including a com? ing together of the two Ger- manies, which can only safely take place within the broader context of European unity." ? Western countries were unanimous in welcoming the East German moves and hoped further liberalisation would follow. The European Commission called the changes a cause for deep rejoicing and said the peoples of Europe could look forward to a continent that was no longer divided, Isabel Hilton writes. The 17 members of the Com? mission, the EC's executive body, will this weekend debate the fu? ture shape of the Community in the light of the rapid changes in East Europe. The Portuguese president, Mario Soares, how? ever, expressed concern that the diversion of West German re? sources to East Germany might be to the detriment of the poorer countries of the EC. Lubomir Marsik, the Czecho? slovak foreign ministry spokes? man, reportedly said Czechoslo? vakia had requested the opening of the German border and wel? comed it. But when asked about Prague's view of the political developemnts in East Germany, he said, "At this moment it is hard to say. We must wait." J m People who escaped at no special risk to themselves. So-called "border-obstacle breakers" (mostly people who escaped "risking life and limb"). 9557 3275 9115 i 14268 - - 5182 501 4680 4500 4 46 -- 3459 : 3767 3385 ' 3316 . 1736 2282 2259 1842 1768 1203 1245 1135 463 424 283 228 192 5- :: 1988 1976 1978 1980 982 \ : r 1970 1972 1974 1962 1964 Fluctuations in the number of of border crossings from 1962 until last year. Source: Arbeitsgemeinschaft, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin. Graphic: Denis Bishop