Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
Ambassador von Geyr, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
The privilege is totally mine - Ambassador von Geyr. It is an honor for me being invited today - both on this venue but even more on the occasion of our German National Day. 33 years of re-unification and we are still struggeling with the way of how to celebrate it. It is like German humor. We know we have it but it is still difficult to tell others about.
So I guess the Germans around here won't be able to turn into party animals today - and here it comes to the role of our guests... don't leave us behind...
Ambassador von Geyr thanks for having us here today and also for the opportunity to adress this distinguished audience on the occasion of our National Day.
33 years of Germany's Reunification. For 33 years, people in our entire country - East and West live in a free, secure and prosperous environmet. They live safe.
Tomorrow 33 years ago the era of reunification began. In Germany and - we have to stress this - in entire Europe.
The peace project Europe glimpsed through the darkest night of the antigonism between the two blocs.
European Nation States were coming closer together. The economy begun to flourish. Those and all the other positive developments during this period, led us to adopt a strategic composure. I felt it when I accompanied Queen Elizabeth II in 2015.
The story has something to do with Konrad Adenauer, our first chancellor in Germany from 1949 untill 1963.
It was strategic patience when she postulaled: „I recently met Konrad Adenauer.“ I really liked her perspective and got very relieved back to work on our than National Security Strategy, the White Paper in 2016.
But let me make this quite clear at the outset: It was whishfull thinking. All of us did. We skipped compulsory military service. We were talking about a peace dividend. Military spending went lower and lower. We accepted a pre-warning of 8 to 12 years with perspective to the capability of Russian Military Forces. This has changed. Not within seconds. But in the light of the 2014 attack on Crimea and the 2022 attack, a war of aggression on Ukraine's Main Land. We all could have seen it. We did not believe it. We were in our comfort zone. And the question remains: what will be next?
Before reunification, Germany was considered a frontline state. This coordinates have shifted.
In the Alliance, Germany is seen as the hub for the credible deterrence of the Alliance. National and alliance defence is once again back and is the core mission. But the character has changed: We have to assume responsibility „in front“ and support the partners who are now considered new front states. This is what we are doing, for example, with our German Brigade in Lithuania. That is our „commitment“.
At the same time, and this has to come hand in glove - as an important base of operations, we have to make our country fit for national and alliance defence.
And one thing is clear: national and alliance defence cannot be separated from international crisis management - so missions abroad. We have to think holistically. There have been and there will be instability on our periphery.
We should not think in old patterns of the Cold War. A 360° approach of re-insurance, presence and deterrence is key.
And key is: to do it with our partners on the eastern flank, on the southern flank, but also in Iraque, and wherever in the world the preservation of peace and fighting for our values is necessary. We are taking responsibility.
Here in Brussels is the place where precisely this approach is already anchored in minds and concepts.
And the same is true for the upcoming weeks and month in Germany: we are about to finish our Defence Policy Guidelines, which translate our National Security Strategy into military ways and means. We are turning the Bundeswehr within the „Zeitenwende“ into a future capable and holistically orgenized, modernized Force. Able to cope with the changed security situation. And able to counter future changes much better than it was in the past. Agile, flexible, fully equipped and modern.
And it is also about keeping the Alliance fit for precisely this future, for the challenges in the security environment. We need a strong and capable Alliance. We must be able to act together. Because NATO is more than just Brussels, it is more than just an institution and it is more than Article 5! It is the Nations, it is the Allies standing together strong.
Article 5 is our sharpest sword. Acting as partners, allies and friends is the mighty glue, which sticks us together. We have seen this in the last couple of month.
NATO is partners who stand up for each other!
Allies who send PATRIOTS to threatened borders. Partners, who are standing together conducting Air Policing. Replacing equipment, so that others can support the fight for freedom in Ukraine.
Our planning for a combat ready Brigade in Lithuania is exactly one of those signs of solidarity with a frontline NATO state.
It is about responsibility. It is about determination. It demonstrates strength of the Alliance. Internally, it is a clear signal to society in Germany. Externally it adds a new instrument to the Alliance. But most of all it demonstrates a clear will to our opponents.
We have come a long way in the past 33 years. From a divided front state whose Reunification could only be achieved by the help of our partners – to a central leading nation that understands and takes its responsibility. Now its up to us to contribute to this credible deterrence and defence.
Although the strategic competition we face today is different from the Cold War. The successes we achieved together in this era can remind us of some key lessons that might be valuable in our current struggle to prevail against oppressive regimes, like Russia.
I have recently been in Ukraine, I saw the people. I saw anger, desperation and fear in the eyes of young Ukrainians. Young women sitting alone in restaurants with their children. Their partners are somewhere else. And they don't know, if they are coming back.
I saw people, who risk everything for their country, their freedom and for their values. Our values.
I admire the bravity and the will of the Ukrainian people. Russia should not win.
Russia´s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine underlines the relevance of combat-ready forces.
Aware of this responsibility, we must always ask ourselves today two questions: How do we want to live now and in the future? How do we want to ensure that our families can live in freedom and security? How can we keep our values? And what do we have to do to be capable to counter not only this kind of agression.
It was good to have strategic patience, strategic composure.
Can we afford it today - probably yes. But if than really quick.
We have to stand together resolutely, in close solidarity. All our Nations. All our people. All of us.
Thanks for celebrating together our National Day.
I promised German humor - I guess I have to work on this.