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David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher reflect on the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall

Greg Hands MP wrote his personal reflection on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall as this morning's Platform piece, whilst Dan Hamilton has also reminded us today of Ronald Reagan's famous speech calling on Mr Gorbachev to "tear down this wall".

Here follow statements from David Cameron and Baroness Thatcher marking the anniversary:

David Cameron poppy "Tonight, the eyes of the world will once again be on Berlin, just as they were twenty years ago. The events of 9 November 1989, in which East Berliners streamed across the wall that held them captive for nearly three decades, changed the face of Europe and the course of history. As a student travelling through Central and Eastern Europe in the mid 1980s, I was struck not only by the drab uniformity but by the hope of the people of those you spoke to that one day things would be better. Few could have imagined that the change, when it came, would be so fast or so dramatic. Every day there was a new, epic development; it was as if history had pressed the fast forward button.

“I will never forget the excitement and the heady optimism of those times - the sense that suddenly everything was possible. In a few momentous months, a tide of liberty rolled across Central and Eastern Europe. The Iron Curtain - which had cruelly divided the European continent for so long - was consigned to history. From Warsaw to Prague, from the Baltic States to Bucharest, proud European nations reclaimed their nationhood and their freedom. Today, those nations are members of NATO and the European Union.

“Two decades on, the fall of the Berlin Wall carries some powerful lessons which made a deep impression on me at the time, and which are every bit as valid today as they were then. The universal yearning for freedom in the face of oppression. The fact that political leadership really can make a difference - in leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, who stood up to Communist tyranny during the Cold War, to Mikhail Gorbachev who ushered in glasnost and perestroika, to Chancellor Kohl, who led his country so skilfully to unification.

“The most important lesson of 1989, however, was the power of the human spirit, whatever the odds. Ultimately, it was the decisions of thousands of brave individuals who refused to put up with oppression which brought an end to Communist dictatorship in Central and Eastern Europe. It is to their courage and their determination that we pay tribute today - not least as we remember all those who still struggle for their freedom and their rights in so many parts of the world.”

The following statement from Baroness Thatcher is in fact the foreword to Freedom's Challenge, a book celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall which has been published by the Atlantic Council:

Margaret Thatcher 2009 "As the world celebrates 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall it is right that we should reflect on the impact of those momentous months.

"In the two decades which have passed there has been a tendency to diminish the importance of the Cold War. We have since learned how fragile the economic, political and military structures in the Soviet Union really were. But it would be wrong to lose sight of the dangers which mankind faced during the era of Mutually Assured Destruction. Nor must we downplay the bravery of those who resisted oppression. No ideology has been responsible for more deaths than communism and it required tremendous moral and physical courage to defy its deadly grip.

"By the late 1970s it had almost come to be accepted that the world was locked into an unbreakable armed stand-off. But with the coming of Ronald Reagan to the White House, all that was to be transformed.  President Reagan was not prepared to accept the status quo. He believed that the West could win both the battle of ideas and the battle of resources, and with the support of other leaders, he was determined to loosen communism’s hold. And by the mid-1980s, as the effects of his determined stance began to expose the frailty of Soviet power, communism itself found someone from within who was prepared to doubt its orthodoxy and to promote change: Mikhail Gorbachev.

"Twenty years on, the world has changed, mostly for the better. Millions of people who once struggled under the oppression of communism live freer, more prosperous and happier lives. We have not created utopia: but then only communism thought that mankind could. There are still hardships. There are still dangers. But it is a world where more people are taking more decisions about their own lives than ever in our history. And that is something for us all to celebrate."

Jonathan Isaby


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