1 Nov 2009

Leaders reunite to remember fall of Berlin Wall

10:01 am on 1 November 2009

Three politicians who played key roles in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the transformation of Europe two decades ago have met at a ceremony in Berlin to mark the occasion.

Cold War leaders from Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, West Germany's Helmut Kohl and former United States president George Bush Senior have been reunited in Germany's capital.

All paid tribute to the ordinary people who were behind the peaceful revolution of 1989. The trio also praised one another during the two-hour reunion, the BBC reports.

Major celebrations are planned for 9 November, the 20th anniversary of the wall's collapse. The event ushered in the end of Soviet communism and Germany's reunification.

"We Germans don't have very much in our history to be proud of," said Mr Kohl, 79, who was chancellor of West Germany and then the reunited Germany from 1982-98. "But we've got every reason to be proud about German reunification.

"There has never been a relationship that reached the level of my relations with these two gentlemen."

Mr Bush, 85, who was president from 1989-93, said the historic events behind the wall's collapse had grown "in the hearts and minds of the people who so long had to strive for their God-given rights".

"The wall could never erase your dream, our dream of one Germany, a free Germany, a proud Germany."

"The people were the heroes," said Mr Gorbachev, 78. "The three of us don't want to take credit for the accomplishments of the previous generations."

The last Soviet leader also remembered two absent Cold War leaders: former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who has dementia, and ex-French President Francois Mitterand, who died in 1996.