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The BBC's Peter Morgan in Dresden
"A tremendous feeling of revival and celebration here"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 3 October, 2000, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
Germans mark decade of unity
World leaders join German leaders to celebrate anniversary
World leaders gathered in Dresden for the historic day
The man elected as East Germany's last prime minister in 1990 has spoken of the painful transition under reunification.

In a keynote speech celebrating the 10th anniversary of a unified Germany, Lothar de Maziere said many people in the east had found it painful adjusting to the new system of law, education and values.

The reunification of Germany opened the way for the unity of our entire continent

President Chirac
But Mr de Maziere added that the east had now turned the corner and was becoming a modern hi-tech society.

For the first time opinion polls show that people in the east see themselves better off than they did 10 years ago despite a current 17% unemployment rate.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin, and in the eastern city of Dresden where official ceremonies have been taking place.

EU enlargement

French President Jacques Chirac
Chirac to push for EU enlargement
French President Jacques Chirac said "the reunification of Germany opened the way for the unity of our entire continent."

"Today Germany celebrates its unity. With her, all Europe rejoices in coming together again," he told guests including several east European leaders and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

President Chirac pledged that France would use its leadership of the EU to complete reforms aimed at expanding the union.

The French president won full endorsement from Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Kohl tribute

Festivities were reported to be lower key than those last November marking the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which sparked the chain of events leading up to reunification.

The man many see as the architect of reunification, former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, is not taking part in the celebrations.

Former Chancellor Kohl
Chancellor Kohl was absent from celebrations

But German President Johannes Rau, the Social Democrat head of state who bitterly opposed Mr Kohl's calls for reunification, praised the former Chancellor.

"He is not taking part in our festivities today. But beyond all the current arguments I would like to stress nothing can diminish Helmut Kohl's service to German unification," Mr Rau said.

The ex-chancellor decided to stay away after being told he would not be able to make a speech.

He is currently under investigation as part of an inquiry into mysterious donations paid to his Christian Democrat Party during his 16-year tenure as Chancellor.

Mr Kohl is refusing to name anonymous benefactors. The scandal has cast a shadow over his period in office, provoking some to question his status as the father of modern Germany.

Disgruntled voices

Reunification itself remains a hotly contested issue in Germany.

East German separatist movement
Some East Germans say change happened too fast

Following mass migrations west and the collapse of the Berlin Wall, East Germany saw its currency abandoned and political system swiftly dismantled.

However, the promise of wealth and prosperity failed to materialise for many of the hundreds of thousands of migrating Easterners.

Some prominent figures in the peaceful revolution which saw the end of a divided nation wanted a slower transition, giving the East a chance to develop its own democratic identity before any thought of unity.

Reunification also ended the West German economic boom of the 1980s, and sent unemployment levels spiralling upwards.

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See also:

02 Oct 00 | Europe
Counting the cost of German unity
09 Nov 99 | Europe
Memories from the Wall
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