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Chancellor Helmut Kohl Celebrates the Success of the Social Market Economy (October 25, 1989)

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Furthermore: I have never equated the twelve member states of the European Community (EC) with Europe. We Germans know better than anyone that Europe is much more than just the EC. Of course, Hungary and Poland are just as much a part of Europe. Just think of those striking images from Budapest: the People’s Republic was declared a thing of the past and the Republic of Hungary was proclaimed. And at that moment a banner with the inscription “Hungary has returned home to Europe” was raised before hundreds of thousands of people. That says it all.

Ladies and gentlemen, this much is clear: the reform movement, the collapse of real existing socialism only came about because the West was united in NATO and because the European integration process exercised such a strong force of attraction. It is no coincidence that President Gorbachev speaks of the common House of Europe.

Because it is sometimes forgotten even in Brussels, let me emphasize it once more here: we signed up for the whole of Europe. We want to complete the Europe of the EC, but with the gates open to others. It is a political unification of Europe. Therefore, I will by no means be satisfied with a process that stops after 1992.

We have to seize this opportunity right now. The first nine decades of this century have passed and many of those decades were filled with endless suffering, hardship, and death. We still have ten years to change the story of this century for the better – for the benefit of our country, for peace and freedom, for prosperity, for a responsible and happy life for each individual.

These days, some of our neighbors are asking: are the Germans still reliable partners? All I can say is that sitting on the fence and wavering back and forth brought us Germans nothing but misery. We know whose side we’re on. We’re part of the Western community of values. And it will stay that way.

[ . . . ]


Freedom is without a doubt a basic need of all people and no one can withhold it from them for long. This is obvious from the galvanizing events of the past days and weeks in the other part of Germany.

Right now, no one knows how things will continue to develop in the GDR. But one thing is for sure, and that is that these events will have far-reaching historic consequences. It is all the more imperative for us to act with wisdom and caution and not to patronize our compatriots in the GDR.

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