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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 14:44 GMT

World: Europe

Analysis: A decade of change

Berliners celebrate the fall of the wall, but not everyone shares the euphoria

By World Affairs Correspondent Nick Childs

The collapse of the Berlin Wall was the symbolic event which encapsulated the dismantling of the old East-West confrontation lines and the end of the Cold War.

Communism - the end of an era
German reunification followed, and with it the unravelling of the Soviet bloc. There is virtually nobody on the international stage now who regrets what happened.

But behind the triumphant celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the wall, many questions are still being asked about the significance of the event, and what has been achieved in the past decade.

There are many who argue that today's Europe is not the one they had envisaged in 1989.

The post-World War II divisions of the continent have not yet been replaced by a stable unity.

New conflicts unleashed

The past 10 years have seen the development of free, democratic societies in eastern Europe and the eastward march of free market economics.

[ image: For many Europeans, life has not changed dramatically]
For many Europeans, life has not changed dramatically
But Germany, the country at the centre of the upheaval, is struggling with its own new identity, uncertain in its position as the most powerful country in Europe, and still struggling with lingering internal divisions.

In the East, some countries - like Poland and Hungary - have clearly fared better than others, but all seem frustrated that western Europe, particularly the European Union, has not embraced them to the extent they expected.

Enforced economic change has produced new hardships for many, and in some at least a nostalgia for the apparent stability of the past.

The last decade has also seen the unleashing of political tensions and ethnic conflict which have threatened stability, nowhere more so than in the Balkans, and with which Europe and the outside world have struggled to cope.

Russia, too, is clearly still struggling to come to terms with its diminished role and the pressures of economic and political change.

The most widespread verdict 10 years on from the fall of the wall is that the decision was the right one - but that the process of change is far from over and far from painless.

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