close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

On Berlin Wall anniversary, Merkel urges Europe to defend 'democracy, freedom'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a business meeting in Delhi on Saturday.  Photograph:( ANI )

AFP Berlin, Germany Nov 09, 2019, 05.15 PM (IST)

Europe "must stand up for democracy and freedom, for human rights and tolerance", Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday as Germany commemorated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Such values "must always be lived out and defended anew," Merkel told political leaders and European guests at a ceremony, warning that these freedoms cannot be taken for granted.

Speaking in the Reconciliation Chapel on the former "death strip" that ran alongside the wall, the chancellor said that the barrier that divided communist East from democratic West was "history".

Merkel herself grew up in East Germany and was a scientist working in Berlin on November 9, 1989.

The communist authorities finally opened border crossings that day "teaches us that no wall that shuts people out and limits freedom is so tall or broad that it cannot be broken through," Merkel said.

The chancellor and guests including the presidents of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had earlier been invited to stick roses through holes in a section of wall still standing at the Bernauer Strasse memorial, just north of central Berlin.

Groups of schoolchildren from around Europe, including war-torn Ukraine, also spoke in their native languages to the leaders about the emotions the anniversary wakens for them.