East and West have belonged together in the Greens for 30 years. At a celebration, prominent members also talk about noticeable differences and the common identity.
Where do we come from and what actually unites us? The Greens discussed this in Leipzig. The occasion was the 30th anniversary of the party merger of the East German Alliance 90 with the West German Greens.
“Let’s remember our twin history, but let’s not be persuaded that there are still such innate differences in mentality in the present. I can say with all my heart: there aren’t,” said Economics Minister Robert Habeck in Leipzig in the evening. Today, the change within Germany “at least not at a slower pace, maybe faster” is also taking place in the eastern German federal states.
Having different identities does not mean putting people in a political grid “due to a regional residential situation,” said Vice Chancellor Habeck, who was the party’s federal chairman until 2022. “Basically, this is the beginning of tendencies towards division and racism,” he warned.
“We had to swallow some toads”
The party decided to merge by means of a so-called association agreement. It was put into effect on May 14, 1993 at a party conference in Leipzig. The aim was therefore to break down “barriers in minds and hearts” and to accept the new party friends “with respect and partnership”. The party is still officially called Bündnis 90/Die Grünen today.
In addition to Habeck, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, party leaders Ricarda Lang and Omid Nouripur as well as Bundestag Vice President Katrin Göring-Eckardt and Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke attended the celebrations. Marianne Birthler, who helped negotiate the unification of the party as a representative of Bündnis 90 30 years ago, was also a guest. “The Greens had to swallow a few toads, so did we,” Birthler recalled on Saturday evening. To this day it can be felt that supporters of the party come from different societies and have been politically socialized differently, said the civil rights activist, who was born in 1948.
Katja Meier calls for support for the East
The event also commemorated former party members Werner Schulz and Antje Vollmer, who died in November 2022 and March of this year respectively. They were “outstanding” people in the party’s history, Nouripour said.
In an interview with Lemke and Lang, the Saxon Greens politician Katja Meier called for more support for the Greens in the east in view of the upcoming state elections in Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg next year. “I don’t just want campaign holidays here in Saxony, Thuringia and Brandenburg. I want overall support from Alliance 90/The Greens for the East.” This is also important with a view to the federal elections in 2025: “Certainly, the federal elections will not be won in the east, but they can be lost,” said Meier.
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