Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she is satisfied with the results of German reunification. Despite a rocky start, the benefits have outweighed the difficulties along the way, she said in a magazine interview.
Twenty years of German unity will be celebrated on October 3
Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was beginning to reap the benefits of reunification, despite a difficult start for citizens of the former East Germany.
"For me, the bottom line is that the result of 20 years of unity is essentially positive," Merkel told the German weekly magazine Super Illu in an interview.
Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, said since 1990 Germans in the east have done "unbelievably" well in adjusting to life under the federal constitution of the former West Germany.
The chancellor admitted reunification had been strange for those living in the eastern states at first, as life changed dramatically.
People in East Germany badly wanted German unity, Merkel said in an interview
Merkel made reference to the "flowering landscapes" of the east envisioned by former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who led Germany through the reunification process.
"During the difficult 1990s it sometimes didn't feel right to talk of flowering landscapes," said Merkel, adding that she believed the description was now a reality in many parts of the former East Germany.
But some gaps between Germany's eastern and western states remain. Pay in the east is lower while unemployment is higher. As a result, many young people in the east have moved west in search for jobs.
The chancellor pointed out that the majority of people had voted in East German elections for parties in favor of joining a united Germany under the existing constitution of the west.
Merkel was deputy spokeswoman of the eastern pre-unification caretaker government under Lothar de Maiziere.
"The situation was completely clear," she told the magazine. "The people had no desire to wait, or to pursue some kind of third way. They wanted German unity. That was then our political task and we fulfilled it."
Merkel said in the interview that the she believed that the solidarity pact, under which the eastern states still receive aid for development from those in the west, would not need to continue beyond its planned phasing-out in 2019.
The chancellor said she believed that the prosperity levels in the eastern states would approach those in the west by that time.
"Naturally, after that, a financial adjustment will also exist between the states," Merkel said referring to the normal way in which Germany's states, including those in the west, subsidize each other.
Author: Richard Connor (AP/AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Sean Sinico