Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Berlin, Obama Calls for Stronger U.S.-Europe Partnership

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

In Berlin, Obama Calls for Stronger U.S.-Europe Partnership

Article excerpt

Expectations for a huge Barak Obama crowd of 100,000 people in Berlin missed the mark.

Instead, he addressed at least 250,000 - most of whom were under 40 and who waited hours to hear the young Democrat from Illinois tell them he came as "a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world."

Senator Obama's main themes were about countries and cultures coming together, and drew on the strong historic ties between the US and Germany. It was partly a paean to the city of Berlin where the cold war wall came down, partly a warning that the "greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another," and partly a call to Europe to do more to end the war in Afghanistan.

His 30-minute speech got immediate laughs as Obama, whom some Germans have hailed as this generation's John F. Kennedy, started off by saying, "I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city."

The greatest response in a crowd that stretched for nearly a mile from the Siegessaeule victory column to the Brandenburg Gate came as Obama went on a riff about bringing down walls, saying "The walls between races and tribes, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims and Jews cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down."

Security was tight. Crowds waited 45 minutes to have bags and bodies checked for metal. Open-pit BBQ and drink stands ringed the venue. A reggae and a rock band opened for Obama, and with a young backpacking crowd wearing sandals and T-shirts, the atmosphere was like a rock concert waiting for a foreign policy speech. German children danced around ahead of the speech in the Tiergarten, Berlin's rendition of Central Park, singing out "Obaaama, Obaaama." Such is the popularity here of the Democrat's presidential nominee, where the most influential news magazine, Der Spiegel, has dubbed him "president of the world."

Tens of thousands T-shirts handed out by the World Wildlife Fund showed a polar bear pointing his finger out, like Uncle Sam, and saying, "I want you to tackle climate change. …

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