It was 30 years ago

European Parliament resolutions on a divided Germany during the Cold War

On numerous occasions from the 1960s to the 1980s, the European Parliament sought to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms in the world, particularly in countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Parliament aimed to draw public and media attention to these issues with debates, statements of views, resolutions, oral and written questions from its Members, fact-finding missions, visits by delegations or public hearings.

In October 1964, to mark the anniversary of the uprising of the people of East Berlin and the Soviet occupation zone against ‘servitude and dictatorship’, President Jean Duvieusart was keen to express Parliament’s sympathy for the German people. He said: ‘While the Germans are fighting for the right to self-determination and for reunification in unity and freedom, while many of them have sacrificed their own lives in that struggle, we for our part will labour unremittingly in the struggle to uphold freedom in the world.’

The signing of the Helsinki Final Act on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975 also prompted the European Parliament to make its position clear on a number of points. It recalled its commitments to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly with regard to contact between people and reuniting families separated since the Berlin Wall was built. In 1977, the European Parliament therefore decided to urge the GDR authorities to comply with the international obligations they had agreed to, after receiving direct requests from East German citizens who were systematically denied the opportunity to emigrate to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and join members of their families. The MEPs also took the opportunity on several occasions to raise the issues of political prisoners and repressive laws in the GDR.