The kick-off event of the Forum Berlin. Politics and Academia in Dialogue was the conference 1989-2009: Remembering for the Future, held on 19/20 February 2009. Contemporary witnesses, policy-makers and scholars from academic institutions and think tanks debated the significance of the watershed year 1989 for current and future political events worldwide. The fact is: the world-shattering fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of a divided Europe and at the same time heralded the rise of new global dangers and challenges that can only be mastered globally. Twenty years after the end of the Cold War, we must answer the following questions: What is the international community’s response to current threats and challenges such as terrorism, the financial crisis and climate change? And: How can Europe bring its experience to bear and assume its global responsibility?
2009 – the year in which Germany and Europe celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – is a time to look back and to look ahead.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 not only symbolized the end of a divided Germany, it also marked the end of the East-West conflict and the division of Europe, ushering in a new era for Europe and the world. For the international community, the end of the Cold War meant the end of a “permanent state of emergency”. Remembering the end of a divided Europe means first and foremost commemorating freedom.
But when looking back at the watershed events of 1989, we must not be content to remember. Instead, we must look ahead to the current and future problems and challenges that this new Europe has to face. 20 years after the end of the bipolar world, the initial euphoria about the “end of history” and the prospect of the family of nations living peacefully together in freedom has dissipated. Europe is becoming increasingly aware of its international responsibility and is beginning to take up new challenges: transnational terrorism, fragile and failed or failing states, worldwide social justice and international environmental protection.
Can the end of the East-West conflict teach us something about how to master today's global challenges? Where does Europe stand in the international political arena and what specific contribution can Europe and the EU make towards mastering the global problems of the future? How can we stop Europe from relapsing into an isolationist selfpreoccupation and into provincialism? And what role do Germany and German foreign policy play in this context?
Against this background, the conference examined from a global perspective the radical changes that took place in 1989 , exploring, among other things, their impact on societies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But it also provided a platform for inner-European dialogue and self-reflection.
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