Merkel Calls for Compassion of Former East Germany despite ‘Success Story’ Reunification
Germany is to celebrate the 28th anniversary since it reunification on October 3, 2018.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the reunification of the former West and East Germany back in 1990 as a “success story” but has also urged greater understanding of the ex-East Germans.
West Germany, a liberal democracy and market economy allied with the West, and East Germany, a totalitarian communist dictatorship controlled by the Soviet Union, existed alongside one another during the entire Cold War.
Merkel issued her call for more compassion with the former East Germany ahead of the 28th anniversary since Germany’s reunification which is celebrated on October 3.
It comes against the backdrop of more pronounced anti-immigrant sentiments in the east, recently underscored by the far right and neo-Nazi outbursts in Chemnitz and Köthen, both in east Germany, following crimes involving migrants.
The German Chancellor told the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper on Saturday, as cited by DW, that many communities in the former East Germany still harbor resentment in the wake of the reunification.
“Much of what happened in the early 1990s is once again facing people (today),” said Merkel, who is from the former East Germany herself.
“Many people lost their jobs, had to start over. The health system, the pension system — everything changed. On the day of the monetary union, 13% of the people in the East worked in agriculture. The day after that it was 1.5%,” she elaborated.
“This is never a justification for hatred and violence. But it is an explanation for why a life can take a different course,” the German Chancellor said.
Merkel admitted to “certain amount of nervousness” in Germany since the 2017 federal election when the far right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerged as the third-largest party.
The Chancellor said the challenge of migration had opened up divisions in the country. Germany is estimated to have received some 1.6 million migrants, mostly from the Middle East and Africa, since 2015.
Merkel argued the recent far right outbursts in Chemnitz were a reason to do everything possible to make the anti-migrant AfD “as small as possible.”
“For me that means addressing and solving the problems people are worried about,” she said, while also calling for drawing clear boundaries “where there is hatred, where there are general suspicions, where minorities are marginalized.”
Germany’s new annual Unity Report (Jahresbericht zum Stand der deutschen Einheit) has shown that for another consecutive year the former East Germany is catching up economically with the West only extremely slowly.
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