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MOSCOW, November 7. /TASS/. Germany this weekend will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The symbol of Germany’s decades-long split collapsed on November 9, 1989. Of late, Russia’s public mind has developed a rather mixed attitude to that event, an epoch-making one in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany and the entire western world. Throughout the past quarter of a century most Russians had tended to believe that with the disappearance of that embodiment of the standoff between the capitalist world and the socialist bloc of countries the Cold War itself sank into oblivion never to return. Lately, the Ukrainian crisis and anti-Russian sanctions by the West have caused the pendulum of public opinion to swing back, as follows from the latest poll by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM).
The pollster has found that 33% of the respondents by no means see the fall of the Berlin Wall as the end of the Cold War, and another 28% are uncertain. The poll’s result is clear evidence that in the context of soaring international tensions over Ukraine a very large share of Russian society believes the Cold War has resumed after a long pause, says FOM analyst Grigory Kertman.
“History has come full circle. Certain attributes of the Cold War are back and some in Russia even like this,” says research fellow at the Sociology Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Leonty Byzov.
On November 9, Berlin will host a forum timed for the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, has been invited to attend in the capacity of an honorary guest. The Germans associate his name with the unification of the East and the West. Interviewed before the trip Gorbachev told the media: “I shall use the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse as an occasion to declare there should be no more walls, not only stone ones, but also walls separating moralities and humanitarian values.”
“We have wasted the chances that readily offered themselves with the end of the Cold War,” Gorbachev added.
“Utter surprise — that was the Soviet Foreign Ministry’s first impression of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 8, 1989. Up to that day we, diplomats, had long been told that the Soviet Union would be defending its citadel of socialism on German soil to the bitter end. With the passage of time, though, there developed the awareness that the unification of Germanies was an inevitable process,” a witness to those dramatic events, former Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Adamishin, told TASS.
“The end of the Berlin Wall entailed a process of prolonged negotiations with the Western leaders on the terms of Germany’s unification. In order to persuade Gorbachev to agree to the unification of East and West Germany the then US Secretary of State James Baker vowed that if Germany united, NATO would not move an inch eastwards,” Adamishin recalls.
“Regrettably, that guarantee by a high-ranking US official was not enshrined in a legal document. And yet, a public promise uttered by the US Secretary of State and eventually defaulted on can be interpreted in no way other than deceit at the highest level. NATO’s expanded presence in Eastern Europe, in particular, against the backdrop of the latest events in Ukraine, is clear proof of that,” Adamishin believes.
“Political quarters in Russia and in the West are now engaged in a pseudo-theoretical debate whether the Ukrainian crisis has triggered another Cold War. To my mind this is not so. Thirty years ago our country and the West were divided mostly along ideological lines, and geopolitical ones as well. These days geopolitical discrepancies are in the forefront, but they can and must be discussed,” the former senior diplomat believes. “In Europe and in the United States there is a rather strong trend in political, business and public circles whose representatives are strongly against another Cold War or further, worse rifts in relations between Russia and the West. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, 90, a veteran politician widely respected in Russia, has dropped this remark: “We have to know when the confrontation should end.”
“I am just 80 myself, but I will dare quote the biblical phrase: ‘A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones.’ Every statesman in his right mind is perfectly aware of that. They just simply do not know how to end today’s confrontation. This is precisely what efforts by the diplomats and politicians should be focused on today,” Adamishin said.
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