Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl Helps Celebrate 20 Years of German Unity
He’s now 80 years old and confined to a wheelchair, but Helmut Kohl is still seen as the architect of German reunification.
Kohl was post-war Germany’s longest serving chancellor, in office from 1982 to 1998.
He was accompanied by his wife Maike and Chancellor Angela Merkel at the event and was presented with a bunch of flowers by the President of the German Parliament, Norbert Lammert.
The anniversary was marked with a show of music and dance and concluded with the singing of the German national anthem.
Merkel was recently quoted in a German magazine as saying that unification had been for the most part a success in the past 20 years even though there are major gaps between the east and west.
Wages in the formerly communist east are lower, while unemployment is higher.
And the eastern population has shrunk by two million as mostly young people move west in search of jobs.
Merkel’s party, the conservative Christian Democrats, were at first the most popular party in the east — in part thanks to promises made by then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He said the east would turn into „flourishing landscapes“ in united Germany.
But when unemployment soared as eastern plants failed in the face of competition from the west, many easterners mocked Kohl’s words of „flourishing landscapes.“
The situation has gradually improved in some areas of the east.