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Willy Brandt on the International Implications of Unification (February 5, 1990)

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BRANDT: That’s too hypothetical for me and reminds me more of the time after the Second World War. It’s a fact that people at the time would have gladly crossed the border – no matter where to – if things were better there. And who could condemn them for that?

SPIEGEL: In Gotha you spoke out for honest dealings with our European neighbors: “And that does not mean that the German train can be arbitrarily stopped by those who hide behind what they call Europe in order to obstruct Germany.” Doesn’t that give the impression that you rank Germany higher than Europe?

BRANDT: I wouldn’t mind if this were understood to mean that Germany is particularly important to me. Otherwise it would be necessary to explain what is meant by Europe in this context. The events in Germany are a subset, admittedly a very important one, of the changes in Europe: the end of communist rule, the end of the state-run controlled economy. The EC [European Community] has just signed a trade and cooperation agreement with the Soviet Union. So the collapse of post-Stalinism also affects European politics. Here, the two main currents in German politics, the Conservative-Liberals and the Socialists, agree that we should not move away from the EC.

Let me put it as a formula: Two German states, as long as they exist, can be members of one economic community. But one German state, in my opinion, cannot be a member of two military alliances. Modrow says that, too.

SPIEGEL: Modrow demands that Germany be militarily neutral. Do you think that is an option?

BRANDT: No, that is not a helpful suggestion. It cannot be assumed that the Federal Republic of Germany will leave NATO like leaving a soccer club, and I am against it too. It also cannot be presumed that NATO will be expanded to include the entire territory of a Germany that is growing together. Most of the people here want to remain in the western alliance, as long as the global situation does not change totally. What else will happen might come out of a change in the character of the alliances as things continue to develop. In some areas they are already shifting from being military organizations to becoming identity groups. We cannot simply check out, but must instead stand at the fore in matters of overcoming confrontation.

[ . . . ]

Source: “Die Einheit ist gelaufen” [“Unification is in the Bag”] [Willy Brandt with editors Dirk Koch and Klaus Wirtgen in the Bundehaus in Bonn]. Der Spiegel, February 5, 1990.

Translation: Allison Brown

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