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Bush School Hosts Fall of Berlin Wall Conference

November 18, 2014

The Scowcroft Institute in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University hosted “The 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Liberation of Eastern Europe Conference” on Monday, November 10, 2014.  The all-day conference included lectures and perspectives from American and European officials who were involved in the decision-making process and scholars who have devoted their studies to the end of the Cold War.

Forming a partition between East and West Berlin, the Berlin Wall was built in 1961 to separate communist-held East Berlin from the democratic influence of West Berlin. On November 9th, 1989, restrictions on travel between the two parts of Berlin were unexpectedly loosened, beginning the process of reunifying a divided Germany, opening up much of Eastern Europe, and dissolving the Soviet Union.

The “Fall of the Wall” conference invited students and guests to revisit the historic events of the Wall’s collapse and explore the resultant geopolitical shockwaves that reverberated throughout the world. The conference featured a European Practitioner Panel; a special lunch speaker session, during which Bush School Dean Ryan Crocker interviewed former Secretary of State James Baker and former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft; a US Practitioner Panel; a Scholar Panel; and a keynote presentation by Jeffrey A. Engel, Founding Director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University.

Speakers included

  • Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee;
  • Dr. Sebastian Huluban, former Romanian Secretary of Defense and Security Policy;
  • Dr. Horst Teltschik, former Security Advisor to Chancellor Kohl;
  • Secretary James Baker, former US Secretary of State under President Bush;
  • Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Dean of the Bush School;
  • General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft, former US National Security Advisor to President Bush;
  • Ambassador Robert Hutchings, Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and former Director for European Affairs on the National Security Council, 1989-1992;
  • Ambassador Larry Napper, Bush School Ambassador in Residence and former Charge d’affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassay in Bucharest, 1989-1991;
  • Dr. Heather Wilson, President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology;
  • Dr. Frederic Bozo, Professor at the Sorbonne Nouvelle;
  • Dr. Christopher Layne, University Distinguished Professor;
  • Dr. Joshua Shifrinson, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the Bush School;
  • Dr. Gabriela Thornton, Instructional Associate Professor of International Affairs at the Bush School; and
  • Dr. James Wilson, historian at the US Department of State.

Prior to the keynote address, former President George H.W. Bush was awarded the Robert Schuman Medal by Elmar Brok on behalf of the European Parliament’s European People’s Party for his role in the reunification of Germany and liberation of Eastern Germany.  The Robert Schuman Medal was introduced in July 1986 to pay tribute to public figures that have advanced the cause of peace, the construction of Europe, and human values through their public activities and personal commitment.  President Bush is the first American to be awarded the medal.

 

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