Klaus Wowereit: The world is fascinated by Berlin

Before the eyes of the world, Berlin has just celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall. That historical 9th November in the year 1989 was the happi­­est event in Berlin’s recent history. The city’s two hal­­ves, which had been separated for decades, could finally grow together again. But most of all, Berlin has a reason to celebrate be­­cause the re­­unification has released enor­­mous power and given Berlin a strong mo­­­­mentum forward. After the rapid change during the past two decades, Berlin is now global­­ly considered a culturally exciting metro­­p­­olis. The Ger­­man capital is again the seat of parliament and government and thus the centre of political decisions and communication in Germany. Numerous organizations in eco­­nomy and society as well as offices of big companies are located in the capital to be close to the action. Berlin is in the focus of national and international attention.

With the fortunate reunification came also the beginning of a new economic era. Since the reunification Berlin has mas­­ter­­ed a far-reaching structural change and laid the foundation for new industries of the future. Today the German capital region is an innovative and competitive economic location with a modern infrastructure. However, the city has also be­­come the “place to be” for creative and ta­­lented people from all over the world.


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Berlin’s economy has undergone a radical modernization. Due to the unique cumu­­la­­tion of excellent universities and research institutes, Berlin is now one of the most in­­novative and research-intensive regions in Europe. About 200,000 people from all over the world teach, do research, work and study at four uni­­ver­­si­­ties, the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Ber­­lin, eight universities of applied sciences, three art aca­­d­­emies, 18 private universi­­ties as well as at more than 60 research fa­­cilities.
The universities of Berlin were successful in the excellence competition and they at­­tract more and more talented people. The new “Einstein-foundation” systematically promotes top research in Berlin. Since the reunification Berlin has in addition consist­­ently and successfully relied on the close combination of economy and science to further develop Berlin as an innovative high-tech location. Due to this approach, nu­­merous fields of technological compe­­tence could evolve, bringing new industrial power to Berlin. Among these fields of com­­petence are the information and com­­munication technology, traffic engineer­­ing, the optical technologies, life sciences (health management, medical engineering, biotechnology, pharmaceutical industries) as well as the area of renewable energies and environmental engineering.

Berlin is already well set up in this field, which pays off more and more in the light of the globally increasing efforts for climate protection. The “green-tech industries” have grown by about 20 per cent in the re­­cent four years. At least 500 companies with about 42,000 employees are now part of the region’s “green economy”. Industrial and technology parks like Adlershof and Buch, but also the area of the Spree, the industrial area of Marzahn, the former Tem­­pelhof air­­port and in future the airport of Tegel, which will be closed in 2011, after the new capital airport BBI has been com­­mis­­sioned: All these places offer excellent opportunities to invest in an innovative surrounding.

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Among Berlin’s strengths is also the cos­­mopolitan and creative atmosphere of the city. The population of Berlin is char­­acter­­ized by diversity. It has changed sig­­ni­­fi­­cant­­ly since the reunification. About one half of the inhabitants of Berlin are new arrivals. People from more than 180 na­­tions live in the immigration city of Berlin. In­­ternationality and open-minded­­ness have become the trademark of Berlin.
The number of tourists is increasing every year. The German capital is one of the world’s most popular centres for fairs and conventions.

The inter­na­­tio­nal sports events in Berlin regu­lar­ly attract guests from all over
Ger­many and the world, too. Due to the Olympic stadium and the new big are­­na near the Ostbahnhof, Berlin provides the best conditions for international top events.

Berlin is not nearly finished yet. And we hope it will remain a city with many big and small issues to work on, a city that con­­stantly re-invents itself. We hope, that this city will continue to attract people who want to make a change.

Its eventful his­­tory gives inspiration and material to cre­­ative people but it also of­­fers space to be oneself and, compared with other metro­­polises, extraordinarily fa­­vourable living conditions.
Among others, Berlin has become a Mekka of contemporary art. Many creative peo­­ple of other areas also feel well in Berlin. The German capital has become a lively place for encounters.


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The creative business has become a driv­­­ing force of Berlin’s economy. About 160,000 people work in booming in­­dus­­tries like film, fashion, design and me­­dia. With an increase in turnover of 25 per cent in the years from 2000 to 2006, Ber­­­lin’s creative economy is very dynamic. It accounts for about 13 per cent of Berlin’s gross domestic product. Berlin is a cen­­tral location of the creative industry in Ger­­many and its international influence is increasing. A few years ago, the UNESCO added Berlin to the global network of cre­­ative cities and awarded it the title “City of Design”. Berlin is the only metropolis in Europe that is allowed to use this title.
But not only the young creative scene is highly esteemed, the high culture of Ber­­lin is also of high renown. Berlin’s op­­er­­as, the­­­­a­­tres and orchestras are rec­­ognized world­­­wide. The architectural com­­plex of the Mu­­­seum Island is part of the UN­­ES­­CO World Heritage and the individual mu­­se­­ums are the home of unique testimonies of human and cultural history. The central project of the next years is to in­­stall a Hum­­boldt forum behind the fa­­çade of the his­­torical Stadt­­schloss (town palace), which will encourage people to altercate them­­selves with cultures from outside of Europe.

With its central situation in the heart of Eu­­rope, the German capital is an ideal loca­­tion to expand into the European mar­­kets. The infrastructure has been systematically modernized in recent years. Out­­standing examples are the new central station in the heart of Berlin and the construction of the new capital airport Berlin Brandenburg In­­ternational in the southeast of the me­­tro­­polis, which will be open­­ed on 30th Octo­­ber 2011 and offer direct flights in all di­­rections.

Berlin is something like a seismograph for the changes of the past 20 years, since the historical opening of the Wall in 1989, but also a laboratory where many clever people work on solutions for the fu­­ture. Berlin provides an in­­spir­­ing surround­­ing for this. Another strength of Berlin can be added: It’s the quality of living and the high value for experiences and recreation. During the changes of the last 20 years in­­credibly many new things have come up. And the city’s dynamic force prom­­ises more and more new perspectives for the future.

 

090924-KlausKlaus-Wowereit-(c)-SenatskanleiThe author, who was born in Berlin in 1953, is a jurist. Between 1984 and 1995 he was in the city council for education and culture in Tempelhof. In 1995 he was elected into the parliament of Berlin, where he was the parliamentary party leader of the SPD. Klaus Wo­­we­­reit has been the Governing Mayor of Berlin since 2001.