Bridging what is left of the Iron Curtain will not be easy. But that is always the case when great things are at stake. That – not tonight’s celebrations – is what Europeans, old and new, East and West, should remember when the road gets a little bumpy along the way.
Only a few minutes ago, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, and Lituania became members of the European Union! Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Malta will follow within the hour.
But as I have decided to celebrate the enlargement offline with some friends and a bottle of champagne I once lost to a Polish friend by insisting that 2004 would be too early for Polish membership, I will now act against my German instincts and welcome the remaining new-members-to-be about 30 minutes early – willkommen, bienvenue, welcome!