Berlin Wall Fell
Rifts rife as Germany marks 30 years
BERLIN, Nov 9: Germany on Saturday marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that ushered in the end of communism and national reunification, as the Western alliance that helped secure those achievements is riddled with divisions.
Two days before the date that brought epochal change, France's President Emmanuel Macron dropped a bombshell, declaring that transatlantic partnership NATO was suffering from "brain death" and that Europe itself was "on the brink".
Chancellor Angela Merkel responded with uncharacteristic sharpness, saying Thursday "I don't think that such sweeping judgements are necessary", and the ensuing storm over NATO laid bare the growing differences among traditional allies.
The bad tempered prelude to the festivities stood in sharp contrast to celebrations five years ago, when former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ex-Polish president and freedom icon Lech Walesa were present.
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.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit ended Friday while Macron is only planning a flying visit on Sunday, leaving the actual anniversary on November 9 without globally prominent figures.
Pompeo also left behind a stark warning: "As we celebrate, we must also recognise that freedom is never guaranteed. "Today, authoritarianism is once again rising," he said, namechecking China and Russia.
Carrying a similar message, the EU's incoming chief Ursula von der Leyen noted that the euphoric optimism over liberal democracy and freedom that characterised November 9, 1989 has dissipated. -AFP