Helmut Kohl, chancellor of Germany, recognized the importance of expediting the unification of Germany. He realized that this provided an opportunity to increase Germany’s involvement and power in international relations. In November 1989, Kohl proclaimed: “Germany’s future lies within a peaceful order which will unite the people and nations of our continent in freedom. To us the European dimension of the German question implies national unity and European unification.”
The unification of Germany, following communism in the East for 40 years, has created many social, political, and economic problems. Germany is suffering from a budget deficit that was created through increased social spending. It was necessary to increase Germany’s welfare programs because East Germany was and continues to suffer from the trauma of transforming their businesses and lives to meet the challenges of the new economic and political structure. Many of the East Germans lost their jobs and homes in the process of unification. For many East Germans, their future looks bleak because they cannot see their way past the welfare lines. They will eventually, however, step out of the welfare line and into the job market. The transition to democracy and capitalism can be tough, but the results will be rewarding.
Germany is not solely involved with solving national problems, it also has international responsibilities. The Germans are members of the European and world community. It is important and admirable that Germany has willingly accepted its new international role. The Germans appear to understand that they and their neighbors have a common interest, which is working together toward common goals. Their political, economic, and defense goals create a purpose for their participation in international organizations, such as NATO, UN, or EU. Involvement in these organizations becomes instrumental in managing international conflicts. The participation of unified Germany in NATO, the UN, and the EU creates a stronger image with which it must enter the 21st century.
Susan Prentice, ’98
Sponsor: Robert Sutherland