Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hans Dietrich Genscher and Patricio Aylwin, in Memoriam

           Two center-right world leaders who advanced liberty have recently died.

Hans Dietrich Genscher, long-time German Foreign Minister, known as the architect of German reunification, died at the end of last month at age 89.  He was Interior Minister from 1969-1974, and Foreign Minister from 1974-1992 for all but a few-week period in 1982.  The last ten years in Cabinet, Genscher was also Vice Chancellor.  He served as President of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1991.  A master diplomat, Genscher helped craft the Helsinki Accords between the Soviet and Western blocs for human rights during détente, skillfully negotiated with the Soviets the reunification of East and West Germany on terms favorable to the West and spearheaded the recognition of the breakaway Republics of Yugoslavia.  He advocated for a Cold War museum.

            Patricio Aylwin, who peacefully led Chile’s transition from military dictatorship to a fully-representative republic, died earlier this week at age 97.  The longtime leader of the Christian Democratic Party and Senator from 1965-1973, which included a stint as President of the Senate from 1971 to 1972, he peacefully opposed the Communist dictatorship of Salvador Allende and later the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, always supporting democratic measures.  Aylwin participated in the 1988 plebiscite and the subsequent negotiations that ended the dictatorship.  He was elected President the following year and served from 1990-1994.  Aylwin is credited with transitioning Chile towards liberty, representative government and civilian rule and also with helping Chile to prosper.    

           May Germany and Chile continue to enjoy freedom, peace and prosperity.

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