Exchange Club hears of Transatlantic Dialogue program

Photo by Avan Clark

Photo by Avan Clark

ALBANY, Ga. -- Although focused on community service, a local club heard an Albany attorney speak about the reunification of Germany and international relations Friday.

Former Georgia State Sen. Michael S. Meyer von Bremen spoke at the noon luncheon meeting of the Exchange Club of Albany.

While he is now in private practice, Meyer von Bremen did not escape the friendly jibes of Exchangite Pete Peterson's introduction.

"The only negative thing I can say about the speaker is, he's a Democrat," Peterson said.

Before leaving elected office in 2009, Meyer von Bremen was invited by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom to attend a Transatlantic Dialogue Program in Germany.

While there in 2007 he met with European leaders and learned that many of the foundation's goals were to promote globalization and free trade, human rights and the rule of law.

"The meeting was about democracy, freedom and constitutions that safeguard the rights of man," Meyer von Bremen said.

Von Bremen must have made an impression, because despite being retired from public office he was invited to a group meeting in April, this time in California.

"I felt that at the Transatlantic Dialogue people were succeeding in coming together to do things for the world," Meyer von Bremen said. "The meetings are one more step to helping the world and its peace efforts."

To convey the power America plays in advancing peace in the world, Meyer von Bremen told a back story of the reunification of Germany.

Germany was divided after World War II. With the coming collapse of the Soviet Union, East Germany held elections and was considered for unification with West Germany.

Because of a war-dictated treaty any such reunification needed the approval of not only East and West Germany, but the allies: the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

After fighting two world wars with Germany, Britain and France wavered at the thought of a reunified, powerful Germany.

"The United States pushed hard for reunification," Meyer von Bremen said.

Diplomats from the United States weighed in and worked on a deal for the former allies. Germany would join the European Union accept the Euro as currency and become a peaceful partner in Europe's future rather than an antagonist.

"Germany still looks to the United States as a world leader," Meyer von Bremen said. "The approval rating has gone up since about five or six years ago."

At least one club member had memories of a divided Germany.

"I was stationed there from 1967 to 70," said Ted Stewart, of Albany. "It was really interesting to hear how the reunification came about."