Secretary General's Corner

Berlin Wall: the Desire for Freedom

  • 11 Nov. 2009 -
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  • Last updated: 24 Nov. 2009 16:15

This week we are celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of The Berlin Wall.

I believe that the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November 1989 was the single most important event in the world history since the end of the Second World War.

We will never forget how the East Germansfinally defeated the repressive communist regime. Simply by knocking down the wall that kept them confined. The long lines of small Trabant cars leaving East Germany told us how much they desired our freedom and our values.

Freedom is a fundamental and universal right for all people. We – who live in free and open societies – must never forget our obligation to support those who are suppressed by totalitarian regimes. Every man and every woman have the right to decide their own future.

The Cold War came to a peaceful conclusion. And NATO played an important role to this end. First by uniting the democracies in North America and Western Europe in a collective defence against the communist Warsaw Pact. And next by uniti8ng old adversaries across the old division lines in Europe.

We opened NATOs door for the new democracies in Central and Eastern Europe, who were looking for a new security home. We built partnerships. We created a new Europe, whole and free.

It was only in the Balkans we had to use force for the first time in the history of the Alliance. We did so not in the defense of our territory, but because we stood up for our European values: Freedom, human rights, and ethnic and religious tolerance.

The unification of Europe is a textbook example of how much our transatlantic community can achieve, when we stand together. The steady engagement in and through the Alliance by many new democracies payed off in better security.

It is my hope that we remember those lessons when we face new and even more daunting challenges – like the ones were are now facing in Afghanistan. I am convinced that, today, more than ever before, our security depends on strengthening the sense of Alliance solidarity.

As we witnessed 20 years ago: Our values are universal, shared and desired by all people. It’s the freedom to choose. When we stand together, we help that happen.