BERLIN — The first democratic all-German Parliament in 57 years convened in the historic Reichstag building Thursday, and its senior legislator, Willy Brandt, called on the united nation to shoulder greater global responsibilities.
In a keynote speech to the new Bundestag, the policy-making lower house, the 77-year-old former chancellor said that modernizing the former East Germany will be a huge task but must not detract from growing German duties around the world.
"Germany would heap guilt on itself if out of its own concerns it forgot world concerns: hunger, migration of the poor, environmental destruction," said Brandt, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for pursuing East-West detente in the 1970s.
"We all know the tasks in our country are not minor," he said of Bonn's costly commitment to turn eastern Germany into a mirror of affluent western Germany. "But we cannot fail to show solidarity with the wretched of this earth."
Elected democratic representatives from all Germany last sat together in Berlin's Reichstag, the historic seat of German legislatures, in December, 1932. Adolf Hitler's Nazis took control the next year.
The lawmakers will return to the seat of government in Bonn for future meetings. They eventually will decide whether to move permanently to Berlin, the unified nation's symbolic capital.
The 662 deputies elected in Germany's general elections Dec. 2 included 150 representing the former East Germany, which dissolved into Bonn's Federal Republic on Oct. 3.