GERMANY WILL “never forget” how Ireland helped secure EU backing for German unification, the country’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said.
Mr Westerwelle met his Irish counterpart Micheál Martin in Berlin yesterday to commemorate the Dublin Castle summit 20 years ago.
The extraordinary summit cleared the way for the territory of then East Germany to join the European Community as part of a unified Germany later that year, with no conditions or treaty changes.
“That was an immensely important step, largely promoted by our Irish friends. It was a real milestone in the unification process,” said Mr Westerwelle. He then added, in English: “Thank you very much for what your country did for German unification. It was very important in our history and we will not forget it.”
The deal reached in Dublin was far from a given, with considerable resistance from many of the 12 member states, including France and, in particular, from Margaret Thatcher in London.
After securing the deal in Dublin, Helmut Kohl praised the diplomacy of then taoiseach Charles Haughey and minister for foreign affairs Gerry Collins for opening the door to what he described as “the dream of all Germans”.
Yesterday in Berlin, Mr Martin said Ireland had acted on “instinct” in 1990 and suggested Ireland’s political divisions had given it a “special understanding for the desire for unity palpable” in the two German states after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
In a keynote address, Mr Martin reminded a high-powered audience of German politicians and diplomats of the benefits Ireland has derived from nearly 40 years of EU membership. He outlined the recent austerity measures the Government had taken to address the economic crisis and, with an eye on Greece, suggested this experience might be worth studying more closely in the EU.
“Ireland’s recovery strategy is, I believe, a microcosm of what needs to be achieved at EU level if Europe is to prosper against the backdrop of a changing global economy,” he said. “One very clear lesson from the recent crisis, however, is the profound interdependence of our European economies. This is why we must work at European level to remove the remaining obstacles to the realisation of the full potential of the Single European Market . . . and take the relevant steps to strengthen the stability of the euro zone.”