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Berlin Party in the Park

  • March 27th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

brandenburg-night-sxc-cut.jpgThe city of Berlin enjoyed star billing as a centre of Europe, a not-unintentional outcome as far as the German government was concerned – as the EU counted off its fiftieth year.

While the days of the EU’s “national” presidencies may be numbered, with its planned new constitution being set to bring in another system, governments in the meantime love to feature their national treasures when the media show comes to town.

In Berlin on the weekend the Brandenburg Gate was hauled into service as the focus of the EU birthday celebrations, the visiting European heads of government, like thousands of others, including it in their program as the background for a commemorative photo shoot.

HOW IT WAS

Their host, and EU president for the current half-year, Chancellor Angela Merkel, later explained to the news media her feelings about the rightness of the place for the moment – amid declarations of liberty, unity and peace:

“We’re celebrating at a place which could hardly be more pregnant with symbolism; in a city which eighteen years ago was divided by a wall, barbed wire and armed guards, where people fleeing to freedom paid with their lives.

“I grew up in the Eastern part of this city …

“The Wall divided my family too.

“I never thought I would be able to travel to the West until I would become a pensioner.

“A few metres from here my road ended,” the Chancellor said.

Europeans have been exposed to a thorough campaign of exposure to EU activities, and benefits, in the two years since French and Dutch voters said no to a referendum proposal for a European constitution.

The plan, that would extend democratic institutions and possibly clear the eway for still more countries to join, is being recommitted.

In the meantime a central opinion poll, the Eurobarometer, asks Europeans their opinions on many issues; hotlines and websites offer information; and all new initiatives are publicised well from Brussels, or national offices of the EU.

The Berlin party was in step with all this; “Eurpope is fun”, it said.

On the Saturday night along with concerts the city’s museums and galleries stayed open to keep with the theme of history, culture and tradition.

HOW IT MIGHT BE

There was a strong focus on the young; a highly talented youth orchestra played at formal events, and thirty-five clubs opened their doors free of charge.

At a street fair by the Brandenburg gate, younger Germans told EUAustralia their feelings about being European – an identity they said they accepted and liked, along with their own nationality.

Some comments:

“I feel more like a European because I prefer the other histories and not the history of Germany.”

“When you go to foreign countries you sometimes you feel more European than German; for me this is important.”

“I don’t feel more European when I am in Germany but maybe when I am in other EU countries, then I do.”

“It’s a great feeling to live in Germany, and also in Europe; it’s all OK.”

Germany was reunified on 3 October 1990, immediately bringing the Eastern, former communist part of the country into the then European Community, and being proclaimed, at Berlin, a “Germany within Europe”.

Picture: Brandenburg Gate, night, (sxc.hu)

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