DASICON2018 We need to talk about Europe! The European Union's Challenges & Opportunities Ahead.

DASICON2014: 25 years. Picking up the pieces of the Berlin Wall

For its 10th annual conference, the Diplomatic Academy Student Initiative decided to focus on the 25th anniversary of 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 became of the democratic dreams that were spun at the wake of this new era. What could be said about the quality of democracy in Eastern Europe? Were democratic ideals successfully realized? Did differences in the political culture between Eastern and Western Europe continue to exist? What political challenges presented themselves to these countries today? Are we still picking up the pieces of the Berlin Wall?