German president Frank-Walter uses Berlin Wall anniversary ceremony to launch a verbal attack on Donald Trump's border wall and urge the US to be a 'respectful partner'

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged the United States to be a 'mutually respectful partner' and reject nationalism as Germany marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. 
Recalling the United States' key role in helping to bring down the hated Wall separating communist East Germany from the capitalist West, Steinmeier said he still hears the late American president Ronald Reagan's cry of 'tear down this wall' at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.
As he spoke, hundreds of thousands of people celebrating the anniversary lined the streets of the city to watch live performances and spotlights illuminated the Brandenburg Gate.  
In a swipe at Trump's America First policy and his insistence on building a wall on the southern border with Mexico, Steinmeier voiced a yearning for a return of the transatlantic partner of the past.

'This America as a mutually respectful partner, as a partner for democracy and freedom, against national egoism - that is what I hope for in the future too,' said Steinmeier.

The German president's sharp words, as he opened festivities at the spot where Reagan once stood, underlined growing tensions between the traditional allies.
Germany has been deeply rattled by Trump's go-it-alone attitude on issues ranging from Iranian nuclear policy to trade with Europe and climate change.
From Washington, Trump sent a message of congratulations for the commemoration, adding that the US 'will continue working with Germany, one of our most treasured allies, to ensure that the flames of freedom burn as a beacon of hope and opportunity for the entire world to see.'
But unlike the optimism at previous commemorations of the epochal event on November 9, 1989 that brought the communist regime crashing down, three decades on, the mood has soured as the Western alliance that helped secure the liberal democracy is riddled with divisions.
Within Germany too, a chasm has opened up with the far-right gaining a strong foothold in the former communist east on the back of its nationalist and anti-immigration message.
For Steinmeier, 'a new wall has arisen that cuts through our country - a wall of frustration, a wall of anger and hate'.
'Walls that are invisible but which divide. Walls that stand in the way of our cohesion,' he warned, as he called on Germans to 'tear down these walls, at long last.' 
Steinmeier's speech came before a series of concerts including one by the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. 
Many turned out to celebrate the historic moment and visitors watched a light projection at the Brandenberg Gate showing -pro-democracy protests in East Germany in 1989. Artists including German rapper Trettman also performed during the celebrations. 
Central European presidents headlined the official ceremonies alongside Merkel and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Saturday to mark their countries' 'contribution ... to the peaceful revolution' that led to the collapse of the communist regime. 
Elsewhere in Germany, an art installation illuminating the former border demarcation stood at a former fortified border crossing between East and West Germany in the village of Moedlareuth. 
Angela Merkel earlier urged Europe to defend 'democracy and freedom, human rights and tolerance' as Germany marks a pivotal moment in the events that brought down Communism in eastern Europe.
Merkel told political leaders and European guests at a ceremony that such values 'must always be lived out and defended anew,' warning that they could not be taken for granted.

Speaking in the Reconciliation Chapel on the former 'death strip' that ran alongside the wall, the chancellor said that the barrier that divided communist East from democratic West was 'history'.
The German Chancellor, who grew up in East Germany, greeted members of the public as she arrived at Bernauer Strasse to symbolically place a rose in a standing section of the wall.
The festivities in Berlin are due to culminate with a party at the Brandenburg Gate in the evening featuring the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra directed by Daniel Barenboim. 
Leaders from Germany and other European nations are attending ceremonies on Saturday in Berlin recalling the peaceful protests that piled pressure on East Germany's government to allow its citizens free passage to the west on November 9 1989.
28 years after its construction in August 1961 to stop a flood of defections to the democratic West, East Germany was on the brink of bankruptcy its productivity 40 per cent lower than West Germany.
On the night of November 9, 1989, a mistake by a government spokesman claiming that travel between East and West was open 'immediately' led hundreds of thousands to make the crossing as sections of the wall was torn down around them.
The presidents of Slovakia, Zuzana Caputova, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary earlier today joined German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at the Visegard Four monument, which commemorates the country's help in the unification of Germany.
'Together with our friends, we remember with deep gratitude the events 30 years ago,' Steinmeier said during a ceremony at the Bernauer Strasse Berlin Wall Memorial, which was also attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and heads of state from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
'Without the courage and the will to freedom of the Poles and Hungarians, the Czechs and Slovaks, the peaceful revolutions in Eastern Europe and Germany's reunification would not have been possible,' Steinmeier said.
During the ceremony, Steinmeier and the presidents of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic placed roses in a small gap in the remains of the wall at the memorial.
In August 1989, Hungarian border guards for the first time allowed people from East Germany to cross freely into Austria, paving the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall three months later and with it the end of the Iron Curtain.
Steinmeier pointed out, however, that the historic event did not mark the 'end of history' as U.S. historian Francis Fukuyama stated. The struggle of political systems had continued and the future was more uncertain than ever before, he added.
'Liberal democracy is being challenged and questioned,' Steinmeier said. That's why Germany and its European allies had to fight every day for a peaceful and united Europe with each country having to do its part to overcome differences, he added.
His message was echoed by Merkel in a brief speech during a commemorative service at the memorial's chapel.
'The values on which Europe is founded -- freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights -- are anything but self-evident. And they have to be filled with live and must be defended again and again,' she said.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that her leadership style has been partly shaped by her upbringing in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR).
'For 35 years, I experienced the official opinion as different from my own,' Merkel told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, referring to the communist leadership of the former East Germany.
'I was alone with my opinion, or shared it with very few people. That's why it does not bother me when others see things differently.'
'Life in the GDR was almost comfortable in a certain way sometimes, because there were some things one simply couldn't influence.'
Beyond the cracks surfacing in the global arena, a new chasm is opening up within Germany itself with the far-right gaining a strong foothold in the former communist states.
Underlining the problem herself, Merkel said those who thought the differences between the former communist east and the capitalist west could be ironed out earlier, sees 'that it would take half a century or more.'
Debate has also opened up more intensively over the differences between the east and west as 'nationalist and protectionist trends have gained ground worldwide, thereby fuelling more discussion too form a national perspective,' Merkel told Sueddeutsche Zeitung.
On November 9, 1989, East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage for the first time since it was built.
The momentous event would end up bringing the communist regime crashing down and led to German reunification a year later.

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