- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Off the Wall

Seventeen years ago, Germans transformed postwar Europe by breaching the Berlin Wall, and East met West 11 months later when Germany was reunified.

Two of the leaders of that political drama came to Washington this week to celebrate German Unity Day at the German ambassador’s residence. FormerPresident George Bush and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl were praised as the indispensable statesmen without whom Germany might still be divided.

“Mr. President, we know that without you and your team, without the support of the American people, unification would not have been possible,” Ambassador Klaus Scharioth told Mr. Bush at the reception Tuesday night.

“Mr. Chancellor,” he added, “you sensed in November 1989 that the vast majority of Germans wanted to be reunited, and you also sensed that there was a chance to realize our dream. You acted on it. You convinced others, and you succeeded. Under your watch, Germany was reunited.”

Mr. Bush, father of the current president, and Mr. Kohl noted the difficulties they encountered in persuading some key European leaders to support reunification of a nation that brought the continent two world wars. Margaret Thatcher, then British prime minister, and Francois Mitterrand, then French president, initially opposed the move.

Mr. Bush recalled that Mr. Mitterrand once jokingly said, “I like Germany so much, I think there should be two of them.”

Mr. Bush and Mr. Kohl also praised Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who acquiesced when East Germans began rushing into West Germany and holding weekly demonstrations for freedom.

“He faced enormous pressures at home. … Yet when the stakes were at their highest, he had the courage of his convictions, and he held fast to the path of political reform, putting the interests of common man before the ambitions of what was clearly a fading empire,” Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Bush also recognized the support of his own foreign policy team of National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, CIA Director William Webster, Gen.Colin L. Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Condoleezza Rice, then a key presidential aide, and Robert Gates, deputy national security adviser.

“For my part,” Mr. Bush said, “it was a great honor to represent the American people as, together with our allies, we helped roll back the Iron Curtain and extend the promise of freedom to millions who had been denied it for too long.”

Mr. Kohl added, “The fall of the wall in Berlin in Germany and, if you will, in Europe, represented a triumph of liberty.”

Mr. Bush noted that the world achieved a remarkable advancement with the German reunification.

“We rose above the recriminations of the past and broke a chain of human discontent and resolved our affairs not with rifles but with reason,” he said. “For once, mankind did not fall back on a primeval reflex for violence, but instead asserted the ‘better angels’ of human nature.”

Israel’s new envoy

Israel yesterday announced the appointment of an ambassador to the United States to replace Daniel Ayalon, after more than four years in Washington.

Salai Meridor, former director of the World Jewish Agency, is expected to take up the position in January. Mr. Meridor served six years as head of the quasi-governmental agency that promotes Jewish immigration to Israel.

Mr. Meridor’s appointment had been expected since rumors surfaced last year in Israeli newspapers.

Mr. Meridor is a former adviser to Moshe Arens at the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Minority Affairs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Islamic history and Jewish history from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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