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Population flight from east Germany ends

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Population flight from east Germany ends
A mural in the east German city of Magdeburg reads "The East Booms". Photo: DPA
14:24 CET+01:00
Emigration from the former Communist states of East Germany has finally ended, 23 years after reunification. The slowly improving economy is behind the fall in people moving to the west, a report released on Wednesday found.

The annual government report into Germany's eastern states found that in 2012, for the first time since reunification in 1990, as many people moved to the east as went to the west.

The report said the improved economic situation in the east was the main reason behind the trend.  

After reunification the population of East Germany collapsed by 13 percent as the young moved en masse to the west. 

From 2000 to 2005 an average of 66,000 people emigrated each year, but last year just 2,000 people made the move.

The material wealth of easterners has also increased but is not up to western standards, the report found. Christoph Bergner (CDU), the minister responsible for former East Germany, said the process needed more time.

GDP in the eastern states has risen but wages are still around 80 percent of the west.

Unemployment, meanwhile, has fallen to its lowest level since 1991 but at 10.7 percent is still almost double that of the west.

Despite the economic improvements, the states continue to face challenges, the report said.

Interior minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (CDU) said: “There is still a backlog of issues. What happened in the past is a lasting problem.”

Friedrich and Bergner did not elaborate on what needed to be done to help the eastern states in the future. Friedrich stressed the report was just a summary of facts highlighting the current situation.

But former Leipzig mayor and opposition SPD politician Wolfgang Tiefensee was unimpressed. He said: “The language of the report does not always correspond to the hard facts,” newspaper the Berliner Zeitung reported. “Embellishment doesn’t help anyone.”
   
Matthias Höhn from the far-left party, Die Linke, was also critical saying the reality in the east was different from the more positive picture painted in the report. 

READ MORE: How united is Germany?

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