20 years ago, I shed tears of emotion and opened a bottle of champagne while watching live on TV the People of East Germany peacefully knocking down the Wall which had divided Berlin, Europe and the World for so many years.
In the decades following WW II, the people in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia had tried on several occasions to get rid of their totalitarian systems, in vain but quite often at the price of a harsh repression. On that night of 9 November, the victory of the Berliner had also become their victory.
For 15 years, I had been safely fighting in our Western democracies for freedom in Communist countries. In the 1970s and 1980s, I held conferences, I translated thousands of pages of samizdat writings from various languages, I published articles and brochures, I organized demonstrations in front embassies in Brussels. In 1987 and 1988, I visited dissidents in Moscow and Leningrad, including Andrei Sakharov, followed day and night by the KGB. One year and half before the fall of the Wall, I went to Berlin by car and discovered with deep sadness the deep scar that was running through the heart of Berlin and the body of Europe. I went to "the other side" by metro, took pictures of Checkpoint Charlie and of the bridge on which there had been regular exchanges of prisoners between the East and the West: Communist spies arrested in the West against dissidents imprisoned in the East. When my friends or colleagues were asking me "Do you think that what you are doing is useful?", I was answering "If I did not think it is useful, I would not do it."
On 9 November, my faith in the peaceful fight for human rights and my modest contribution were rewarded by the exceptional pictures of that historical night.
In 2009, after 20 years of plastic surgery, Europe has gained a new face and has recovered its physical integrity. It is now up to the enlarged EU to carry the beacon of freedom to other parts of the world.
The fight must go on to support the oppressed peoples around the world in their long march to freedom and democracy, in China, in North Korea and in other countries.