Prof. Dr. Melanie Sully

Go Governance supports Diplomatic Academy Conference

The annual Diplomatic Academy (DA) Conference organised by the students focuses on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Former Professor at the DA, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , and head of Go Governance will give a speech.

“25 years: Picking up the pieces of the Berlin Wall”

Date: January 31, 2014

For its 10th annual conference, the Diplomatic Academy Student Initiative has decided to focus on an important upcoming anniversary: the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Between 1961 and 1989 the Berlin Wall was one of the most graphic symbols of the cold war, dividing East from West in all its ideological and physical dimensions. In late 1989 after the announcement of a new travel law for the German Democratic Republic, thousands of people from East Berlin demanded their new right, flocking to the borders along the Wall and gaining, for the first time since 1961, free entrance into the West. The ensuing Fall of the Berlin Wall was the beginning of a series of developments which led not only to the reunification of Germany but also to the dissolution of the USSR and the fall of Communism. The Fall of the Berlin Wall became an even stronger symbol than the Wall itself had been: a sign for a new era, the end of the Cold War.

On a political level this meant, among other things, the independence of the former Soviet Republics and their choosing the path towards a democratic system of governance, which was seen in stark contrast to the democratic deficit of the one-party communist regime. Many of these countries have since joined the European Union as part of their policy to “return to Europe” and to the West.

Almost a quarter century after these developments begun in the former Eastern Block, we found ourselves wondering  what has become of the democratic dreams that were spun at the wake of this new era. What can we say about the quality of democracy in Eastern Europe today? Have democratic ideals been successfully realized? Do differences in the political culture between Eastern and Western Europe continue to exist and if yes, what are they? Which political challenges present themselves to these countries today? Which conditions are conducive for and which are impeding democratic development?

Especially given recent developments in some former USSR countries, these questions seem topical and urgent to us. We see the 25-year anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall as an opportunity to add a certain historical perspective to our discussion, which we hope will give us a critical eye to understand the status of democracy in these countries today. It is in this critical spirit that we will be wondering: are we still picking up the pieces of the Berlin Wall?

Speech of Prof Melanie Sully as PDF