Balloon display highlight of Berlin Wall commemorations

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Balloon display highlight of Berlin Wall commemorations

Balloon display highlight of Berlin Wall commemorations
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Festivities are in full swing in Berlin as people come together to mark 25 years since the Wall came down.

Eight thousand helium balloons were lit up along a 15-kilometre stretch of the barrier that divided Berliners for nearly three decades.

At the former Checkpoint Charlie border crossing, Mikhail Gorbachev addressed the crowd.

The ex-Soviet leader has recently warned Western leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin against dragging the world into a new version of the Cold War he helped to end a quarter of a century ago.

His “Perestroika” and “Glasnost” reforms set in motion changes across communist eastern Europe that led to the Wall’s demise.

Earlier on Friday, the German parliament kicked off the weekend’s commemorations with a special ceremony in the Bundestag.

The parliament’s President, Norbert Lammert, said the wall’s demise was the culmination of many acts of protest across the former communist states of eastern Europe.

“It was not a miracle, any more than a natural phenomenon. Rather it was the result of a peaceful revolution which was unprecedented in German history, which sped from one event to the next at a breathtaking pace over several months,” Lammert told the chamber.

Singer, poet and former East German opposition member Wolf Biermann broke with parliamentary protocol by performing his protest song “Encouragement” on his guitar.

The artist, who was expelled from the ex-GDR in 1976 and stripped of his East German citizenship, said the song had comforted dissidents locked up under the old communist government.

Controversially, he attacked the modern far-left Die Linke party, which was formed out of East Germany’s former ruling communists, as remnants of the old regime.

The commemorations continue in Berlin over the weekend.