| 12.3°C Dublin

Germany will forever be grateful to Ireland

Close

Key role: Then Taoiseach Charles Haughey chaired the Special European Council in Dublin in April 1990

Key role: Then Taoiseach Charles Haughey chaired the Special European Council in Dublin in April 1990

Key role: Then Taoiseach Charles Haughey chaired the Special European Council in Dublin in April 1990

'Germany will never forget what you have done for us," is how then German chancellor Helmut Kohl described his feelings 30 years ago when talking to Taoiseach Charles Haughey at the end of a decisive Special European Council in Dublin. We gratefully remember the important role Ireland played in helping us to complete German unification and in welcoming Germany as a reunited country to the European project.

On April 28, 1990, half a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, German unification was one of the main items on the agenda of this Special European Council. The question still hadn't been answered whether the territory of the German Democratic Republic would be allowed - along with the Federal Republic of Germany - to become part of the European community. Mr Kohl pushed for a quick unification, stressing however that it could only be part of the wider process of European integration. For us, German unity and our European identity were two sides of the same coin. However, some European countries struggled with the idea of German unification. Others, such as Ireland, welcomed German unification and saw it as both "desirable and inevitable".

It was very much thanks to Ireland and Mr Haughey, who chaired the Dublin meetings, that European leaders agreed on a common approach, welcoming German reunification and - as a very decisive step - setting the path towards the integration of the territory of the German Democratic Republic into the European Community.

In the conclusions of the council meeting, the Irish presidency declared: "The community warmly welcomes German unification. It looks forward to the positive and fruitful contribution that all Germans can make. We are confident that German unification - the result of a freely expressed wish on the part of the German people - will be a positive factor in the development of Europe as a whole and of the community in particular.

"We are pleased that German unification is taking place under a European roof."

Shortly after the negotiations had ended, Mr Kohl visited the Irish delegation and thanked Mr Haughey wholeheartedly.

Close

Flashback: Helmut Kohl with Angela Merkel in 1991. Photo: Getty

Flashback: Helmut Kohl with Angela Merkel in 1991. Photo: Getty

Flashback: Helmut Kohl with Angela Merkel in 1991. Photo: Getty

He and many others repeated those thanks on many occasions, for example when Mr Kohl addressed the Dáil in 1996 or when German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed President Michael D Higgins on his State visit to Germany last summer.

Thirty years on, I would like to reiterate our gratitude and our sincere thanks to Ireland.

We are truly grateful for the support we received from our European friends which helped us to reunite as a country, as a people and to contribute to this important common peace project - the European Union.

The Covid-19 pandemic once more proves how important, how indispensable, European co-operation and solidarity are to tackle these immense joint challenges. We need each other and, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar put it, we are in this together. The many recent examples of support between EU member states prove that we want to make it work. Tackling the enormous challenges ahead, we need to work together with our partners internationally towards the same goals. Strengthening such a multilateral approach is the core principle of the alliance. We are grateful for this support of our Irish friends.

The Special European Council in Dublin, 30 years ago, was not only an important landmark for German unification and German-Irish friendship. It is an example of how we as Europeans can be stronger together and jointly shape history and our future.

That same spirit of friendship, co-operation, courage, support, solidarity and dedication will, no doubt, help us to master what lies ahead.

Deike Potzel is German Ambassador to Ireland

Irish Independent