Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
Herr Generalinspekteur, lieber Herr Breuer, liebe Frau Breuer,
Excellencies, fellow Ambassadors,
Assistant Secretary Generals,
Generals and Admirals,
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Day of German Unity is a unique day of joy for us Germans.
Those who personally remember those exciting weeks full of hope, fear and uncertainty and then the very day when the Wall came down peacefully will never forget.
After the atrocities of the most terrible of all wars perpetrated by Nazi Germany, for decades my capital, my country, and our European continent were divided.
In 1989, millions of brave protestors in East Germany peacefully called for reforms and freedoms.
They joined the call for the end of domination by Moscow, as it was to be heard in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, the Baltics, the Balkans and more and more places in Central and East Europe.
The people called for an end to a brutal regime that imposed on them how to speak, how to discuss, how to think and how to live. They called for the end of a regime that was unable to adapt.
The joy in 1989 and 1990 was overwhelming. People felt that a very bitter chapter of history had ended.
For us Germans, the Day of German Unity is a day of togetherness across our borders.
We know that German unity would never have been possible without the support of our neighbours, allies and partners.
And we are grateful to all those who for decades remained convinced that the enforced division of Germany and Europe would not last forever.
We know that German unity would not have been possible peacefully without a Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin who decided in favour of a humane future and against the use of violence.
And we know that all this would not have been possible without a strong NATO making peace and freedom secure, nor without European Allies’ troop commitments in my country, nor without our American and Canadian friends standing up for a unified and free Europe.
The Day of German Unity stands for freedom, peace and security belonging together.
Today we celebrate this day in times of great concern.
In the midst of so many crises the world faces, a terrible war is raging in the heart of Europe.
With its ruthless invasion of Ukraine, Moscow did not decide in favour of a humane future. It decided to impose and restore a system of domination and oppression.
This war is opening up a new bitter chapter in the history of our continent.
Freedom, peace and security are under attack. Our freedom, peace and security are under attack.
So, what does the memory of 1989 and 1990, of German unity, of the overcoming of the division of Europe mean for us today?
It is important to refocus on the very essentials. I would like to name four:
Conviction and relentless dedication to our democratic rules and values do pay off. We have to keep on course.
This gives us the strength to be absolutely clear which side we are on when it comes to grave violations of human rights and international law, when it comes to war and peace.
Peace and freedom belong together.
We must and we will stay committed to supporting Ukraine, to peace in Ukraine, to peace and freedom in Ukraine. As the Chancellor put it at the UN General Assembly a few days ago: „Peace without freedom is called oppression.“
I say to our Ukrainian friends here with us tonight that we greatly admire your determination and tireless resolve to fight your aggressor.
Peace and freedom need to be secured.
We are reminded of this now all too clearly. We have to make our Alliance as strong and resilient and united as possible.
My country, Germany, will continue doing its part. You can count on us for that!
As an alliance of democracies, our ability to discuss is our unique strength.
The most important transatlantic organisation must discuss the most crucial issues for transatlantic security intensively.
Sharing the same goal – security – we can and we must draw on the precious wealth of experience at our countries’ disposal. This makes us able to constantly optimise our adaptation in a unique way.
Freedom, peace and security are what NATO stands for.
On this Day of German Unity I am especially proud to represent my country at the Alliance!
Now it is my privilege to introduce the new German Chief of Defence to you, General Carsten Breuer.
I may add that I personally am delighted that you are here with us this evening, General, as we worked very closely together in the past.