Having been one of the last actors in the negotiations during the summit, from May 1988 to May 1990, that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet bloc and German reunification, I cannot grant a free pass and not react to the lies that clutter our memory, blur our conception of the present, and prevent our preparation for the future. It suffices to say here that I know them very well and that I have spoken at length on a one-on-one basis with each and every person I will mention in the following lines.
1. The fall of the Berlin Wall is not the result of the protests in East Germany
In the autumn of 1987, Gorbachev’s diplomatic adviser, who also happened to be Brezhnev’s diplomatic adviser, the fascinating Vadim Zagladine told me, in his excellent French: “You must understand that everything has changed: we will no longer fire on protestors. Not in Warsaw or Moscow.” I replied, “Are you aware that if this is true, the regime will not last ten years?” Saladin replied, “that’s not true. It will not last five years.” It was awareness, albeit slowly, (by the Poles and then by the East Germans) of this new reality that led to the change of government in Warsaw in the spring of 1988, and then to the passage of the East Germans to Austria, by way of Hungary, in August of 1989, where they were on holiday: Seeing how they were crowding into the Austrian consulate in Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Nemeth called Gorbachev, who ordered him to open the borders (both confirmed this to me separately). From August 1989, East Germans were able to move freely from East Germany to West Germany. And the fall of the Wall in November was simply the ultimate symbolic and anecdotal aftershock of an earthquake whose initial tremor had been Gorbachev’s seizure of power in Moscow in 1985.
2. The collapse of the Soviet Union was not caused by the American embargo
The correlation between the collapse of the Soviet Union and the American embargo has led the Americans to believe that they caused the collapse of their rival, and the same method could work against any regime. As a result, the Americans use this method today, against every opponent, everywhere in the world; with the disappointments that we know. It should come as no surprise: the Soviet Union collapsed only because Gorbachev chose a strategy that was radically opposed to that of his predecessor, the very impressive Yuri Andropov: the latter wanted a market dictatorship, as in China. While Gorbachev wanted a planned democracy. The market dictatorship can work for a long time (and will work in China, until the day the Chinese bourgeoisie wants to get rid of the single-party system). A planned democracy cannot work for a long time because such democracy can vote, very quickly, for privatisations; this is what the Russian and Ukrainian leaders hastened to do. But if Andropov had survived the devastating tumour that took his life, the Soviet Union would probably still be a solid dictatorship, supported by a powerful single party, and a flourishing market economy. Putin is now trying to return to this model.
3. France did not oppose German reunification
Francois Mitterrand had decided, as early as autumn of 1988, to consider the potential German reunification as a purely German decision. And when the fall of the Wall was announced, and reunification along with it, he said and repeated, in front of me, to the Chancellor: “Reunification will be your business. But if you want the support of France, which you can do without, you will need to approve the following three preliminary conditions: 1. recognition of the Oder-Neisse line; 2. reaffirmation of the denuclearization of Germany; and 3. launching of the process of the creation of the euro.” The Chancellor could have refused and bring up these questions to the newly reunited Germany. Credit is due to his greatness that he had not done so and approved these conditions on behalf of Germany, which had not yet been united. Without these two statesmen, the European Union and the euro would not exist today.
4. The countries of Eastern Europe did not want to join what is now the European Union
These countries had only one obsession: to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). They viewed the Common Market as an absurd bureaucracy similar to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA). It was the Americans who pushed them to join the Common Market, in order to weaken it.
It is by understanding all of these facts that we can face the future with clarity. So as not to repeat the same mistakes of the past. And finally bring all of Europe together, which is now alone and facing the world.