- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 3, 2000

On the 10th anniversary of the reunification of Germany, the generation that stood on the Brandenburg Gate cheering for the wall to fall is restless. Less than half of eastern Germans polled say they are happy with democracy. Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl the father of the reconciliation was not invited to speak at the celebration due to his involvement in a campaign-finance scandal, and politicians are bickering about who should take credit for the country's oft-forgotten successes.

Lest Germans drape their celebration halls in black today, perhaps they should remember what the last decade has brought them. Despite the challenges to employment and the budget cuts that were necessary after the unification, Germany is the second leading importer and exporter of merchandise trade in the world. And for all the complaints about the economy, Germany's gross national product remains above that of the United States, at $28,870 per capita. The German government has also made a smooth transition to its new offices in Berlin, where the capital city boasts of cutting-edge technology and architecture, and a seamless main street between the former east and west sides of the city.

With the end of the Cold War, time formerly spent in protecting national security leaves German activists to wring their hands over the state of the environment or whether to pay the minimal student fees to be applied to university students. And rather than eliminate the need for the United States as security partner, the new, integrated Europe has strengthened the partnership of Germany and the United States in last year's NATO mission to the Balkans. An expanding European Union and the adoption of the euro are further signs that the reunification is forging long-term economic security and democracy in Europe.

Those who waved their pickaxes against the Iron Curtain one decade ago need not wave them now against their own politicians. The country they have rebuilt gives reason to celebrate indeed.

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