Berlin - a political center

The Reichstag building in Berlin
The Reichstag building in Berlin dpa/Daniel Kalker
Since reunification, Berlin has no longer been divided, and has long since grown out of the east and west question.

Even in the Unification Treaty it was determined that Berlin be the capital. On June 20, 1991 the Deutsche Bundestag passed a resolution to also move the seat of government and Parliament from Bonn – since 1949 the capital of the Federal Republic – to Berlin. Since the move in 1999, Germany once again has in Berlin a pulsating political center that bears comparison with the major cities of the big European neighboring states. In addition to the newly designed Reichstag building, symbols of this are the Chancellery and the open Brandenburg Gate, which re­presents the overcoming of the country’s division. For a while there had been fears that the government’s move to Berlin could become an expression of a new German megalomania, with which the country’s economic and political weight would upset the status quo in Europe again. These fears proved to be wrong. Rather, German Unity was to be the initial spark that led to the overcoming of the division of Europe into east and west.

As such, Germany actually played a pioneering role in the political and economic integration of the con­tinent. In addition it gave up one of the most important instruments and symbols in the unification process, the Deutschmark, to create a European Monetary Union, the Eurozone, which would not exist without Germany. Nor, despite their being heavily involved in the unification process, have the various federal governments since 1990 ever lost sight of European integration, but have played an active role in its development, which culminated in the Lisbon process.

Ultimately, in the course of the 1990s Germany’s role in world politics also changed. The participation of German troops in international peace-keeping and stabilization missions makes this increased responsibility visible to the outside world. In domestic political discussion, however, the foreign missions are in some cases the subject of controversial discussion. In the NATO allies’ expectation that the Federal Republic of Germany take on a share of the common obligations commensurate with its size and political weight, it becomes clear in retrospect that as a divided country Germany enjoyed a political status that no longer existed when the bipolar world order came to an end. Since there is no longer a risk of confrontation between Bundeswehr troops in the west and those of the Nationale Volksarmee in the GDR, there has been continually growing international expectation for Germany to assume corresponding responsibility.

Herfried Münkler

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