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Learning English - Words in the News
03 October, 2005 - Published 10:13 GMT
German reunification anniversary
The end of the Berlin Wall

Celebrations are being held to mark the 15th anniversary of German reunification, which came a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. At the time, there were great hopes that the East would quickly become as prosperous as the West. However, there are still big differences. This report from Ray Furlong:

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The Berlin Wall may be history, but the Wall in the mind remains - as the results of the recent election show. The Christian Democrats, for instance, scored 37 percent support in West Germany but just 25 in the East. The new left party, by contrast, won just 4.9 percent support in the West - compared also to 25 percent in the East.

It's a reflection of the fact that living standards in the East are still much lower. Unemployment is almost twice as high, and the population has fallen by 900,000 as people have moved West in search of opportunities. Last year, the population fell by a further 50,000.

In its annual reunification report, the government insists that progress is being made. Net incomes have doubled in the last fifteen years, now reaching 85% of Western levels. Towns and cities have seen their centres repainted and repaved. Work is continuing on improving the motorway and rail network. But the government also admits that great challenges remain.

Since reunification a trillion Euros have been transferred from West to East, to boost the economy there. The government foresees a further 150 billion in subsidies until the year 2019.

Ray Furlong, BBC, Berlin

Listen to the words

It's a reflection of the fact
The difference in the election results in the West and the East show that there is a difference in living standards between the West and East

The number of people who do not have a job

the population
the (number of) people who live in an area or country

says strongly that something is true

Net incomes
the money that people earn after paying taxes

replaced and repaired the pavements and roads

admits that great challenges remain
says that it is true that there are still big problems

to boost the economy
to make the economy more successful

predicts, believes that something will be true in the future

money that the government gives to help support an industry or, as in this case, a part of the country

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