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Author: Iris Kempe

Contemporary witnesses of change

Despite individual points of light from the 1968 Prague Spring, when Michal Reiman was a companion of Alexander Dubček, the path to democracy and freedom was not a straight one, but paved with control and arrests by the Soviet regime. Nevertheless, the contemporary witnesses were important carriers of the cycles of change.

With the coup of the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the communist party seized power in the Russian Empire for the first time. The revolutionary spark of the party in power in the Soviet Union did not, as Lenin and later Stalin intended, spread across Europe to shape societies. Instead, contacts to Moscow via Berlin to Vladivostok were continued as an instrument ranging from equality to state terror. The so-called great terror in 1937/38 was marked by excesses of socialist violence.

September 12, 2021 - Iris Kempe

A prayer for peace in Belarus

On December 13th 2020 an ecumenical service was held in Berlin Cathedral to pay tribute to the protesters in Belarus. It was followed by a political debate, which focused on a new European Eastern policy, a new Ostpolitik. Through the organisation of these two events, the churches showed, once again, their eagerness to engage in building bridges for the way to peace and democracy.

February 3, 2021 - Iris Kempe

Towards a new European Ostpolitik

Instead of encouraging co-operation through the opening of potential windows for partnership, which was the guideline of the previous Ostpolitik, a new European Ostpolitik should take the concerns, direct neighbourhood and historic experiences of the more recently added EU member states seriously by developing and implementing a new strategy of partnership. The goal should not be about developing new dividing lines but establishing new platforms of communication.

Germany’s international relations are already prioritising the development of a new European Ostpolitik well in advance of July 2020, when the country is slated to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union for six months. European Ostpolitik will likely be translated into more concrete policies during the 18-month-long rotating trio presidency of the Council of the EU that includes successive terms led by Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia, respectively.

May 2, 2019 - Iris Kempe

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