Merkel urges Europe to defend democracy, freedom

Presidents of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attend the Berlin Wall anniversary

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday urged Europe to fight harder for its values as Germany celebrates 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, news wires reported. “The values on which Europe is based - freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, safeguarding human rights - these are anything but self-evident,” Merkel said in a speech at the wall memorial in the center of the once-divided capital. “They must be experienced and defended anew again and again,” she pointed out. “In times of far-reaching technological and global change, this is more relevant than ever.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schaeuble and heads of state from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also attended the ceremony.

“The Berlin Wall is gone and that teaches us that no wall that excludes people and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it cannot be broken through,” Merkel said, speaking in the Reconciliation Chapel on the former “death strip” that ran alongside the wall. 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.

Arriving at the main commemoration Chancellor Merkel stuck a rose into a part of the wall that divided the city for 28 years still stands. Members of the public also were invited to stick flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall. Following its partial destruction in 1989, sections of the wall have been prominently used as a canvas for art installations, such as at the West Side Gallery

The festivities in Berlin are due to culminate with a party at the Brandenburg Gate in the evening featuring the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra directed by Daniel Barenboim.

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