We can only hope that the change in leadership and the recent discussions that have reached the very top of the SED are true signs of a change of heart. What’s important now is a true dialogue with the citizenry, political and economic reforms that truly speak to the concerns and anxieties of the people.
The federal government is prepared to offer comprehensive support for effective reforms. Our goal is to improve the living conditions in the GDR in such a way that the people feel comfortable in their ancestral homeland and want to stay there.
But as long as people leave the GDR because they lack the opportunity to shape their own lives there, we will, of course, take them in. With me, there will be no departure from uniform German citizenship – as some people here supported until very recently. We will not exclude anyone!
We will also leave no doubt that we are holding fast to the unity of the nation, that our goal remains freedom and self-determination for all Germans.
[ . . . ]
Ladies and gentlemen, the Federal Republic of Germany was founded on the desire for freedom. This desire had a decisive influence on the last four decades of our country. Freedom, which also comes with responsibility! The two go together – in private life, in society, and also in the relationship of our people with other countries.
Today the desire for freedom around the world is stronger than ever before. This gives me confidence that the liberal principles of our economic and social order belong to the future.
Source: Helmut Kohl, “Forty Years of Social Market Economy in the Federal Republic of Germany” [“40 Jahre Soziale Marktwirtschaft in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”], in Bulletin (Press and Information Office of the Federal Government), no. 115, October 30, 1989, pp. 985-90.
Translation: Allison Brown