Germany is on Saturday marking the 30th anniversary of its reunification but celebrations have been toned down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The country was reunited on Oct. 3, 1990, following four decades of Cold War division with East Germany — under communist rulers — joining the western federal republic nearly a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rest of the fortified border between the two states.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, told parliament earlier this week that the country has “achieved a lot in 30 years.”
“We have succeeded in significantly reducing the differences in living conditions between eastern and western Germany,” she went on. “But structural differences remain”.
“Further efforts are necessary,” she added.
She also acknowledged that the celebrations “will be quieter than the occasion would actually deserve”.
The centrepiece of Saturday’s celebrations is a ceremony in Potsdam, just outside Berlin, led by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with 230 guests — about one-fifth of the audience originally planned.
European leaders are also marking the milestone online.
“Built on the values of freedom, democracy and human rights, the German reunification paved the way to the expansion of the European Union,” EU Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter.
The Austrian Chancellor celebrated Helmut Kohl, the former German leader Helmut Kohl as “the great architect of the reunification of Germany and Europe.”
For the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg, “3 October 1990 was a defining moment for Germany, Europe, and the world.”
“A united Europe & a strong transatlantic bond continue to the vital for our security today,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Kremlin revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had sent his congratulations to the German President and Chancellor.
“The head of the Russian state stressed that the unification of Germany that took place three decades ago was a very important event in European history. Vladimir Putin also reaffirmed Russia’s unwavering readiness for dialogue and interaction with German partners on topical issues on the bilateral and international agenda,” the statement also said.