Published: Sat, November 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Merkel Urges Europe to Defend 'Democracy, Freedom'

On Berlin Wall Anniversary, Merkel Urges Europe to Defend 'Democracy, Freedom'

Ms Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, greeted members of the public as she arrived at Bernauer Strasse where she and fellow leaders from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic placed roses at a section of the Wall left standing.

From the beginning of its construction late in the evening on August 13, 1961, until its eventual destruction on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall strictly limited the movement of East German citizens to the west, separating them from their families and their jobs, and forcing many people into economic desperation.

That communist authorities finally opened border crossings that day "teaches us that no wall that shuts people out and limits freedom is so tall or broad that it can not be broken through", Merkel said.

The momentous event would ultimately bring the communist regime crashing down, leading to German reunification a year later. It features exhibitions including footage of pro-democracy protests and Berliners telling stories of being separated from their families by the wall. "And they must always be lived and defended again", he told guests from across the continent.

In his speech, Pompeo criticized Russia's treatment of political foes and said China used methods against its people that would be "horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans".

With the West facing a slew of geopolitical challenges, he said the bulwark of the bloc's defence alliance, the 70-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, also "runs the risk that it will become obsolete" if leaders failed to tackle new challenges.

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Merkel responded with uncharacteristic sharpness, calling such "sweeping judgements" unnecessary.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned against taking democracy for granted, at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall.

This time, leaders of former Cold War powers will be absent, as Donald Trump's America First policy, Britain's Brexit struggles and Russia's resurgence put a strain on ties.

"We will continue working with Germany, one of our most treasured allies, to ensure that the flames of freedom burn as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the entire world to see".

In a speech in which he criticized Russian Federation and China, he cautioned that freedom was never guaranteed in the world.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not at the ceremony, but visited Berlin earlier this week.

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