On Berlin Wall anniversary, Angela Merkel urges Europe to defend values

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged Europe to defend democracy and freedom as Germany marked 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, warning that such gains must not be taken for granted.

At a solemn ceremony in a church standing on the former “death strip” that divided East and West, Ms. Merkel said the Berlin Wall reminds “us that we have to do our part for freedom and democracy”.

‘Not self-evident’

“The values upon with Europe is founded… they are anything but self-evident. And they must always be lived out and defended anew,” she told guests from across the continent.

On November 9, 1989, East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage for the first time since the Berlin Wall was built. The momentous event would end up bringing the communist regime crashing down, and led to German reunification a year later.

But the euphoria for liberal democracy that characterised the epochal event then has somewhat dissipated three decades on, as the Western alliance that helped secure those achievements is riddled with divisions.

Cracks have appeared within the European Union as former eastern bloc countries like Hungary or Poland are accused by Brussels of challenging the rule of law.

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