- Title Reagan calls for better East-West links in Berlin
- Author Clough, Patricia
- Publication Title The Independent
- Collection The Independent
- Date Saturday, June 13, 1987
- Issue Number 212
- Page Number 13
- Place of Publication London, England
- Language English
- Document Type Article
- Publication Section News
- Source Library The Independent
- Copyright Statement © Independent Print Limited.
FOREIGN NEWS Reagan calls for better East-West links in Berlin PRESIDENT REAGAN stood in front of the walled-up Branden? burg Gate, symbol of a divided Germany, and, to the cheers of the crowd, challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to "open this gate ... tear down this wall". "General Secretary Gorb? achev," he said, "if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Eu? rope, if you seek liberalisation, come to this gate." He proposed that he and the Soviet leader could work together to bring the Eastern and Western halves of the city closer, to improve air ac? cess, to make it a centre for inter? national meetings and confer? ences, and one day even the site of an East-West Olympic Games. The President came to West Berlin from the Venice summit to attend the 750th anniversary cele? brations of the city, and to under? line, as the Queen and President Mitterrand have done before him, his country's commitment to de? fend its freedom. He did so in a speech which partly looked for? ward to changes in East-West re? lations made possible by Mr Gorbachev's new line, but was partly couched in a melodramatic Cold-War language which had an oddly outdated sound to it. From Patricia Clough in West Berlin His presence here in fact un? derlines the complex realities of this divided city. He stood on a flag-decked stand only a stone's throw from the spot where thou? sands of young East Germans last weekend, drawn by a pop festivcal on the other side of the wall, chanted "Down with the wall, Gorbachev" and "We want free? dom." Yet as he spoke, only a few hundred people, mostly Western tourists, stood at the other side of the Brandenburg Gate, and po? lice appeared hardly more numer? ous than usual. The US President, it seems, was nothing like such an attraction, or a threat, as David Bowie or Genesis. Western parts of the city, meanwhile, were littered with smashed glass, burnt-out vehicles and barricades, relics of riots by young West Berliners for whom the head of their major protective power is "Rambo Reagan", and responsible for American imperi? alism and genocide. The riots, in? volving about 2,000 "Auton- omen", Berlin's left-wing drop? outs, followed a peaceful demonstration by about 20,000- 30,000 people. By morning, 67 po? lice and an unknown number of demonstrators were injured and 77 people were under arrest. The President spoke from the centre of a vast area which had been cordoned off with razor-wire and some 10,000 police, 1,000 of whom had been drafted in from West Germany. Behind him was a bullet-proof sheet of glass to pro? tect him not from the East Ger? man guards posted on top of the Brandenburg Gate, but from pos? sible Arab terrorists who have been known to operate from the eastern half of the city. Thorough security checks awaited the 35,000 specially-invited guests, although judging from the size of the crowd, many had not turned up. ? Confrontations between po? lice and protesters resumed as Mr Reagan's visit neared its end, with 300 demonstrators chanting anti- police slogans, AP reports. Hundreds of riot police sur? rounded the jeering protesters in a containment manoeuvre which lasted into last night despite occa? sionally heavy rain showers. After Mr Reagan left town, police lifted controls they had imposed on traffic in and out of the district of Kreuzberg, home to many of the city's young radicals. EL J V Mission accomplished: President Reagan acknowledging applause after giving his speech yesterday.