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Berlin Wall conference

Berlin Wall conference brings key European unification figures to New Zealand

A major international conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall is bringing high profile European politicians to New Zealand .
The conference, which takes place 3-4 November in Wellington , is one of the premier international events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an outstanding line-up of participants.

Lord Christopher Patten—who has recently been mentioned as a possible candidate for the newly created post of European Union Foreign Minister—will anchor the keynote panel, which also includes Professor Michael Zürn, Director of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin, and a representative of the European Commission.

The conference will also include the participation of the award-winning German film directors, Andreas Dresen and Christian Schwochow, as well as a former editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, Ryszard Holzer.

Former Polish Solidarity leader and former President Lech Walesa will not be attending the conference due to health reasons.

The conference is taking place in conjunction with the opening of the first-ever German film festival in New Zealand , Novemberkinder, sponsored by the Goethe Institut.

Victoria University lecturer John Leslie, who was there the day the Berlin Wall came down, working as a television news producer for NBC Nightly News in East Germany , says the enormity of the events of 9 November 1989 and their enduring legacy cannot be underestimated.

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“The fall of the Berlin Wall was the beginning of the era we live in—the end of the Cold War, the end of a power structure where the international system was divided between the US and the Soviet Union .”

He says the conference is also a reminder of the importance of Europe to a small trade-dependent country like New Zealand .

“ New Zealand is a very small country and is incredibly dependent on an open, liberal trading order. But it is in a part of the world where the biggest powers around are not necessarily open and liberal and that makes it increasingly dependent on those large powers that are—like the European Union and the United States .”

There are events organised around New Zealand , but the main conference will occur at Wellington , in the Parliament Buildings. It is open to the public and registration is free.


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