With the flick of a pen, the four victorious powers of World War II have signed away the rights they won over Germany by pounding Hitler's army into submission 45 years ago.
Ministers from the two Germanys joined in signing Monday's declaration and toasting it with champagne. They pledged that the reunited Germany being created this week will be dedicated to peace and good neighborliness.The two German officials spoke at a 35-nation ministerial conference on European security and cooperation, the first such meeting in North America. President Bush and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze congratulated the German people during the session.
Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of West Germany and East German Science-Education Minister Hans-Joachim Meyer addressed the conference minutes after the four World War II allies signed away the special rights they have exercised since the end of 1945.
The suspension is a stopgap measure to allow the united Germany to be a fully sovereign country. A Sept. 12 treaty must be ratified by the U.S. Senate and legislative bodies of the Soviet Union, Britain and France.
In an emotional speech, Genscher said unification day "marks the fulfillment of a desire cherished by the German people for 45 years: to unite in peace and freedom."
Genscher added, "We are uniting in happiness and gratitude, not in nationalistic euphoria."