Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ich Bin Europa

Clinton, who delivered laudatory remarks along with Zoellick, extolled Kohl’s singular skills as a statesman faced with more than a few daunting questions. Beyond the question of German unification, Kohl was faced with issues of European political and economic unity, the question of Germany’s role in NATO and the question of sending German troops abroad for the first time since the second world war. “He answered every single question correctly,” Clinton said, "correctly for Germany, correctly for Europe and correctly for the United States".
 Bill Clinton awards Helmut Kohl the Henry Kissinger Prize, May 16th 2011

The cost of reunification has been a heavy burden to the German economy and has contributed to Germany’s slowed economic growth in recent years. The costs of reunification are estimated to amount to over 1.5 trillion Euro (statement of Freie Universität Berlin) (1.9 trillion U.S. Dollars). This is more than the national debt of the German state. The primary cause of this was the severe weakness of the East German economy, especially vis-à-vis the West German economy, combined with (politically motivated) conversion rates from the East German mark to the Deutsche Mark that did not reflect this economic reality, resulting in a very sudden (usually fatal) loss of competitiveness of East German industries, making them collapse within very short time. Today, there are still special transfers of more than €100 billion every year to “rebuild” the eastern part of Germany. Providing goods and services to East Germany strained the resources of West Germany. Money-losing industries formerly supported by the East German government had to be privatised. As a consequence of the reunification, most of the former GDR has been deindustrialised, causing an unemployment rate of about 20%.
It's inconceivable that any German chancellor could have said, "I don't want Germany to unify." But it is conceivable that you could have had some long transition or a scenario where West Germany is not the surviving state and East Germany goes away, which was how we viewed unification. We had similar concerns about German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who also seemed to think of the unification process as more of a merger. I preferred to see it as an acquisition.
 Condoleezza Rice, interviewed by Der Spiegel, 2010 

'The Lord, the Lord!' he cried, shaking the lovebird in its cage. 'See the Lord! He's growing, he's growing!' Then he was tossed into the air with the cage, and he ran, flew, danced, staggered, and fled with the screeching bird, himself a bird. Taking flight at last, he fluttered across the fields in the direction of the sewage land and was heard shouting through the voices of the tommy guns: 'He's growing, he's growing!' He was still screaming when the two young Russians reloaded. 'He's growing!' And even when the tommy guns rang out again, even after Oskar had fallen down a stepless staircase into an expanding, all-engulfing faint, I could hear the bird, the voice, the raven, I could hear Leo proclaiming to all the world: 'He's growing, he's growing, he's growing...'
Gunter Grass The Tin Drum

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