BERLIN ( Associated Press) – Germany’s parliament on Wednesday paid tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev by observing a minute’s silence for the Soviet leader who paved the way for German reunification 32 years ago.
Flags flew at half-mast over the Reichstag building in Berlin as lawmakers began the daily session with tributes for the first time since Gorbachev’s death last week.
“He made what seemed impossible for decades: ending the Cold War peacefully and overcoming the division of our country and our continent,” House Speaker Barbel Bass told lawmakers. “We Germans have a lot to thank for Mikhail Gorbachev.”
“It changed the history of our country and the lives of millions of people,” Bass said. “His courage and his posture were decisive in the recovery of our unit.”
Gorbachev’s reform efforts and increasing openness set the stage for the peaceful collapse of communism, and one of its pivotal moments, the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Less than a year later, Germany rejoined as a member of NATO. The promise of the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
Contrary to his opinion in Russia, Gorbachev remained very popular in Germany. In the leader’s memory last week, German leaders pointed to a contrast to current relations with Russia, which have been icy since the invasion of Ukraine.
For a long time, the Germans “ignored, or perhaps did not want to believe, that Russia had radically deviated from (President Vladimir) Putin Gorbachev’s goals,” Bass said.
“Today a deep chasm is opening up between Russia and Europe, where, according to Gorbachev’s vision, a common European home with Russia and a common security architecture should emerge,” he said.
“This is what Russia has broken this sentiment with Putin, and it is a sad mistake,” he declared.