'Father of German reunification:' Bush Sr and the end of the Cold War

Berlin - Helmut Kohl, Germany's longest-serving chancellor and one of the main architects of German reunification in 1989, once described George Bush Sr's presidency as a "stroke of luck" for Germany.

Indeed, it was the skilful diplomacy of the former US president - who passed away on Friday at the age of 94 - that helped to pave the way for the end of communist rule in eastern Germany. He was also the first Western leader to use the term 'reunification.'
In 1989, in the run-up to the collapse of the East German government, Bush Sr had already established a friendly relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and final leader of the Soviet Union.
He backed Kohl's ambitious plan to reunite the two Germanys in the face of opposition from French statesman Francois Mitterrand and even more vehement resistance from Britain's Margaret Thatcher.
One day after the fall of the Berlin wall, Bush Sr phoned Kohl to wish him luck for the days and months ahead.
Though he characterized the development as one that advanced human rights, he declined to declare "victory" in the Cold War, in recognition of the fact that such comments could prompt a backlash from Soviet hardliners.
In subsequent months, Bush calmed Gorbachev's fears and nudged the diplomatic process in the direction of reunification, which occurred in 1990.
Kohl is not the only politician to have given Bush Sr credit for reunification. Tributes flooded Twitter just hours after his passing was announced.
Manfred Weber, the German EU lawmaker who leads the conservative European People's Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, pointed to his "incredibly wise political leadership at the end of the Cold War."
"As Germans we are endlessly thankful for his historic contribution to German reunification," Weber wrote.
"I will never forget the role he played in making Europe a safer and more united place following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
"President Bush's calmness, leadership and close personal relationships with Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev were decisive in restoring peace and freedom back to so many people across our Continent. We Europeans will forever remember this," Juncker added.
Kai Diekmann, former editor of the mass circulation newspaper Bild, referred to Bush Sr as "one of the finest characters I have ever met - RIP George HW Bush! A real father of German reunification

Saturday, December 1st 2018

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