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postheadericon Pressemitteilungen und Reden des Auswärtigen Amts


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Pressemitteilungen und Reden

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Grußwort von Staatsministerin Michelle Müntefering bei dem Befreiungskonzert im Rahmen der Ammerseerenade ...
Datum/Zeit: 23 Sep 2018, 17:30
Inhalt:

--- Es gilt das gesprochene Wort --

Sehr geehrter Herr Abt Notker,
Sehr geehrte Frau Staatsministerin Kiechle,
Sehr geehrte Frau Knobloch,
Sehr geehrte Künstlerinnen und Künstler,
Sehr geehrte Frau Pospischil,
Exzellenzen, sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,

ein großer jüdischer Komponist unseres Landes, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, hat Folgendes empfohlen:

„Es wird so viel über Musik gesprochen und so wenig gesagt. Ich glaube überhaupt, die Worte reichen nicht hinzu, und fände ich, daß sie hinreichten, so würde ich am Ende keine Musik mehr machen.“

Ich will mich an seine Empfehlung halten. Wie schon beim Befreiungskonzert in St. Ottilien am 27. Mai 1945 soll vor allem die Musik sprechen, die so viel mehr auszudrücken vermag als wir überhaupt in Worte fassen können.

Damals wie heute setzt das Befreiungskonzert ein doppeltes Zeichen - für Erinnerung und für Zukunft. Es macht deutlich, dass die Zukunft Erinnerung braucht. Wir erinnern an das unfassbare Leid und die Gräuel, die durch deutsches Tun entstanden sind.

In seiner Eröffnungsrede 1945 sprach Dr. Zalman Grinberg für die 420 damals im Krankenhaus von St. Ottilien untergebrachten Jüdinnen und Juden, die stellvertretend für die Millionen Opfer des Holocaust stünden und zeigten, zu was der Mensch fähig sei. Er bezweifelte schon damals, dass die Menschheit je das Ausmaß dieser Verbrechen verstehen werde.

73 Jahre später können wir diese Zweifel leider immer noch nicht ausräumen. Hitlergrüße werden auf unseren Straßen gezeigt, antisemitische Übergriffe sind an der Tagesordnung und Menschen anderer Hautfarbe und anderen Glaubens werden verachtet und bedroht.

Die Ereignisse der letzten Wochen zeigen, dass wir in unserer Erinnerungsarbeit nicht nachlassen dürfen. Viele Menschen in unserem Land scheinen eine der wichtigsten Lehren aus der NS-Gewaltherrschaft vergessen zu haben, die sich ganz besonders im ersten Satz unseres Grundgesetzes niederschlägt:  „Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar“.

Das heutige Konzert setzt daher ein Zeichen, dass wir diesen Auftrag ernstnehmen.

Es bleibt unsere dauerhafte Verantwortung, die Menschenwürde zu schützen und mit aller Kraft und allen Mitteln gegen Antisemitismus, Rassismus und Ausgrenzung in unserer Gesellschaft vorzugehen.

Gleichzeitig ist das heutige Konzert auch Ausdruck der Dankbarkeit, dass das dunkelste Kapitel der deutschen Geschichte mit der Befreiung überwunden wurde und Raum für Begegnung und Versöhnung entstanden ist. So haben in St. Ottilien von 1945 bis 1948 tausende jüdische Überlebende wieder Kraft und Hoffnung schöpfen können. Über 400 jüdische Kinder wurden hier geboren; nach dem Krieg wurde hier der erste Talmud gedruckt.

Bereits im Oktober 1945 hat David Ben Gurion St. Ottilien besucht und für seine Ideen geworben. Dieses Jahr konnten wir 70 Jahre Gründung des israelischen Staats feierlich begehen. Dieses Befreiungskonzert erinnert an das wunderbare Geschenk der Versöhnung. Heute verbindet Deutschland und Israel eine wirkliche Freundschaft. Zahllose Bande verbinden uns in Politik, Kunst, Kultur, Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft.

Davon zeugt auch die künstlerische Zusammenarbeit zwischen Anne Sophie Mutter und dem jungen Orchester der Buchmann-Mehta School of Music Tel Aviv unter der Leitung von Maestro Dorman, die wir heute erleben dürfen. Es ist mir eine Freude, so viele junge Menschen aus Israel hier in Deutschland auf der Bühne zu sehen. Mir ist ein wichtiges Anliegen, dass junge Menschen hier in Deutschland und junge Menschen aus Israel sich begegnen, das Heimatland des anderen erleben, sich austauschen. Wir müssen für die Zukunft dafür sorgen, dass dieser Austausch noch intensiver, das wechselseitige Verständnis noch besser wird.

Ich danke daher allen, die daran beteiligt waren, dieses zweite Befreiungskonzert mit Leben zu füllen und freue mich, dass das Auswärtige Amt dieses Projekt unterstützen konnte. Ganz besonders ermutigend finde ich, dass dieses Konzert als Benefizkonzert in die Zukunft wirkt. Ich bin gespannt auf die künstlerischen Impulse der künftigen Artists in Residence.

Jetzt soll die Musik sprechen - dem Publikum wünsche ich bewegende Momente und allen Jüdinnen und Juden gesegnete Feiertage - Gmar Chatima towa!


Rede von Europa-Staatsminister Michael Roth bei der Abschlusssitzung des Human Dimension Implementation Meetings der OSZE ...
Datum/Zeit: 20 Sep 2018, 08:55
Inhalt:

-- es gilt das gesprochene Wort --


Today we are looking back at two weeks of intensive exchanges between the OSCE participating states and civil society organizations on the 3rd dimension of the OSCE. Our thanks go to ODIHR and the Italian chairmanship for their tremendous work in preparing and managing this conference.

The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is the flagship of the third pillar of the OSCE’s comprehensive security approach. For some this might have become an unpleasant routine: too long, too clumsy, too resource intensive, too little noticed by the public. And yes, we can discuss if the modalities of the HDIM live up to nowadays speedy life and expectations.

But what is undisputable in my view is the need for a discussion on human rights issues as a one of the most relevant factors for our common security. And not only do we need to discuss them, we have to monitor their implementation on a regular basis. This is what HDIM stands for.

If we look back at the foundations of ODIHR in the early 1990ies we take note that some participating states are not willing anymore to implement commitments they themselves subscribed to: be it in the field of democratic institutions, press freedom, protection of journalists and human rights activists, fight against tolerance and discrimination.

Moreover new challenges have emerged like hate speech or new nationalism and populism.

What makes this conference so valuable is the participation of civil society organizations. Those who work closely with disadvantaged groups, who advocate human rights within shrinking spaces, can point out at deficiencies and weaknesses we as state representatives may not be aware of.

They can help or sometimes even push us to take certain issues more seriously. Therefore, we should not shy away from this dialogue, but carefully listen and make the best use of criticism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

when talking about the link between human rights and security, we have to mention the conflict areas in the OSCE region. Let me focus on two examples only:

This year, we are marking ten years of the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia. Today, we see a country that is torn apart by a conflict that left one fifth of its territory beyond control of the government in Tbilisi.

We underline once again our full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognized borders.

We have regularly condemned and will further critically assess obstacles on the road towards a resolution of the conflict, be it the signing of the so-called “treaties” between the Russian Federation and the breakaway entities, or the ongoing “borderisation” efforts along the administrative boundary lines.

These measures not only complicate the ongoing efforts for conflict resolution in the framework of the Geneva International Discussions, but have a direct impact on the lives of people in the area of the dividing lines.

In order to gain a full picture of the human rights situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, it would be crucial to allow international bodies to assess the situation on the ground. We call upon the authorities in effective control of these regions to grant unrestricted access to international human rights monitoring institutions.

The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine remains one of the most serious threats to peace and stability in Europe. We are extremely thankful for the OSCE engagement in the conflict area. The courageous civilian and unarmed members of the Special Monitoring Mission are indispensable. As independent observers, they provide the international community with first-hand, unbiased information. Therefore, we strongly condemn the relentless attempts to interfere with their work or to threaten them with bodily harm.

As far as political solutions to the conflict are concerned, Germany and France will continue their intensive work within the Normandy format. This includes a framework for a potential UN peacekeeping operation in the Donbass region.

However, such a UN mission can only serve as an instrument to implement the Minsk agreement. The situation on the ground remains tense and many challenges lie ahead. But we remain firmly committed to a peaceful solution acceptable to all sides.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Protecting human rights goes hand in hand with guaranteeing security in the OSCE context and beyond.

This is why it will be of major importance for Germany’s work as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the coming two years to strengthen this link between human rights and security.

We will work towards enhancing the mainstreaming of human rights aspects into the international security topics that are under consideration of the Security Council, in particular with regard to the women, peace and security agenda.

To conclude, let me express my sincere appreciation for the work of the institutions and committees in the OSCE human dimension which Germany has regularly supported with extra budgetary funding.

We are looking forward to an intensive and fruitful exchange in all dimensions ahead of the Ministerial Council in Milano for which we wish the Italian Chairmanship good luck and success.

Thank you.


Rede von Staatsminister Annen bei der Konferenz „Uzbekistan and Germany: cooperation in the field of security and sustainable development in Central Asia” (englisch) ...
Datum/Zeit: 19 Sep 2018, 14:49
Inhalt:

-- es gilt das gesprochene Wort --

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Mr Norov,
Ms
Kiefer,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Esteemed guests,

I would like to start by thanking the organisers of this event for giving me the opportunity to speak with you today and to explore ideas with you on working together in the coming years. The timing of today’s conference is auspicious for two reasons.

Firstly, there has been significant momentum in Uzbekistan and the region since President Mirziyoyev took office. Much has changed for the better.

Alongside many notable shifts in domestic policy in the country, we are experiencing an unexpected development – in the past year or two, Uzbekistan has worked systematically, resolutely and intensively to make its foreign policy more open and robust, particularly as regards improving relations with its neighbours, with which it has many interests in common.

At the initiative of President Mirziyoyev, the first meeting of Central Asian presidents in 13 years was held in Astana in March. And it is also thanks to him that relations with Tajikistan are improving, while endeavours are being made to stabilise Afghanistan. Uzbekistan is thus becoming a regional heavyweight in foreign policy and demonstrating a clear willingness to take on greater responsibility in the future.

Secondly, the European Union is publishing a Joint Communication on a future EU-Asian connectivity strategy today. Today’s conference also shows how important this step is. As part of the European Union, Germany is an active partner country to Central Asia. This is how Germany wants to be seen. And it wants to become even more involved in the region.

I am certain that there is great interest on both sides in working even more closely together, as the challenges we need to address make such cooperation increasingly necessary. The topics to be discussed here today range from sustainable development and tackling the effects of climate change to regional security and stability. I look forward to discussing these issues with all of you.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Uzbekistan is undertaking far-reaching reforms aimed at achieving sweeping changes. I would like to mention just a few examples that we regard as particularly important.

The planned judicial reforms will promote participation and the rule of law. We expressly welcome the release of political prisoners, the efforts to end child labour in cotton harvesting and the less complex legislation on NGOs aimed at strengthening civil society.

Progress is being made in Uzbekistan as regards working with neighbouring Central Asian countries, opening the borders and including Afghanistan in regional cooperation.

The far-reaching reforms aimed at liberalising and modernising the Uzbek economy are boosting market forces, fostering private enterprise and making Uzbekistan considerably more attractive to foreign investors.

These steps are courageous. They express a policy shift and wide-ranging ambitions that will bring great benefits and prosperity to Uzbekistan in the long run. This also creates opportunities to further our cooperation, something I would expressly welcome.
But I am not the only one to welcome the fact that the country has become more open. Many people are currently taking note of Uzbekistan. The outside world is becoming interested in Uzbekistan and the opportunities it offers, particularly those of an economic nature.

Germany is following this process with great interest and attention and wants to do its utmost to support it. The visit of a large trade delegation comprised of over 70 business people this spring underlines what I am saying.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Germany has felt a strong sense of connection with Central Asia for many years and is working hard to develop its relations with the region. We were one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Uzbekistan and the four other Central Asian countries.

In the Central Asia Strategy that was adopted under Germany’s Presidency of the EU in 2007, we and our partner countries drew up the first policy guidelines for our engagement in the region over ten years ago.

In a short time, Uzbekistan has become the driving force behind greatly intensified regional cooperation. German and European foreign policymakers are proud to be able to support this process within the framework of the Central Asia Strategy.

The new EU-Central Asia Strategy, which will be adopted in the first half of 2019, will be a milestone in our relations. Building on the valuable experiences of the current strategy and bearing in mind the changed circumstances in the region, we want to work with our Central Asian partners on an approach that takes the new needs and situation in the region into account. I am certain that our cooperation will lead to tangible results for the people of Central Asia.

Although the new Central Asia Strategy has not yet been finalised, I would still like to mention a few points that are important to me personally and should form a major part of the EU’s new strategy.

The EU wants to define priorities and to focus its efforts on achieving sustainable development and fostering security and stability.

We would also like to do more to support young people, for example, to create employment and education opportunities, thus generating long-term career prospects.

We also want to promote regional cooperation and thus play a part in reaching a joint and fair solution to wide-ranging issues in the fields of resource management and connectivity.

Ladies and gentlemen, you will have noted that nowadays, connectivity is top of the agenda. We see that China is creating opportunities and building infrastructure with its Belt and Road Initiative.

Working side by side with our partners, we want to ensure that the connections between Europe and Central Asia are developed in a way that leads to greater transparency and fairness.

In launching a European connectivity strategy, whose first elements will be published in Brussels today, as I mentioned earlier, the EU wants to offer its Eurasian partners the chance to forge greater economic, technological and infrastructure links in order to ensure that everyone benefits.

Working with you, ladies and gentlemen, we want to make sure that the expansion of the Eurasian transport corridors will be of lasting benefit to Central Asia. By developing economic corridors, we want to help increase local value-added, facilitate sustainable development and enable everyone to share in an economic upturn.

Germany and the EU have a significant foreign-policy interest in lasting comprehensive economic and political stabilisation in the region.

However, the partnership between the EU and Central Asia must be a partnership between equals. We cannot allow it to lead to excessive debt or unilateral dependencies. Our priorities are sound investments and adherence to social, environmental, security and human rights standards.

That is how our offer differs from China’s Belt and Road Initiative. We regard adherence to these standards as essential in order to prevent market distortion and political upheaval. Only in this way will the people in Uzbekistan and Central Asia as a whole truly benefit from new investments in a lasting way.

In other words, we want a partnership in which both sides make use of the opportunities and share the risks. We call for a rules-based world order in which norms and standards are negotiated together and fairly. In short, we want to be able to rely on one another.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Three weeks ago, German Foreign Minister
Heiko Maas addressed his audience at the opening of the Business Forum of the German Ambassadors Conference as “fellow multilateralists”. It is in this spirit that I want to speak to you today.

As you know, multilateralism has many mighty opponents these days – unfortunately also in Europe.

I am therefore all the more happy to be here with you today – because you want to move this country and the region of Central Asia forward, in cooperation with others – as multilateralists. I am fully convinced that collective action gets better results than going it alone.

I think that especially here – in Uzbekistan and in Central Asia – conditions are now particularly good for establishing people-to-people contacts and close, trusting cooperation among states. Recent developments in Uzbekistan and the region show that regional cooperation is possible.

Ladies and gentlemen,
One example for this is the Aral Sea. The progressive disappearance, since 1960, of what was once the fourth-largest lake in the world is one of the greatest environmental disasters on our planet. It is frightening to see the satellite images that document the massive shrinking of the lake.

There is an artwork by Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian poet and painter, that shows ships sailing on the Aral Sea in 1848. This painting reminds me of my home town of Hamburg, with its large maritime port. Hamburg’s harbour is not called “Gateway to the World” for nothing. We all know that, today, the rusting hulls of ships lie on cracked, salty ground that was formerly the bottom of the Aral Sea.

However, one thing gives reason for hope – the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea, or IFAS, which is the only regional institution that unites all five Central Asian countries. At the same time, it is the only regional organisational structure that is devoted to water management.

IFAS is the tool with which the countries of Central Asia can conduct a constructive exchange on the current situation and find solutions to sustainably protect and increase the size of the Aral Sea.

In this connection, I want to highlight the conclusions that were reached at the last IFAS summit meeting in Turkmenistan: The tasking to develop a special United Nations programme for the Aral Seal, as part of the programme of work of the Executive Committee of IFAS, and the adoption of a plan of action to support the countries of the Aral Sea Basin. These deserve our special attention, not least because the plan of action came about thanks in large part to support from Germany.

IFAS alone will not be enough to save the Aral Sea. But I strongly believe that negotiations in the context of IFAS promote long-term dialogue and trust, and that this institution benefits and integrates Central Asian societies.

We Germans want to do what we can to support the process of reaching an agreement on water management in the region. It is to this end that former Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, our current Federal President, established the Berlin Process in 2008. Its aim is for the countries on the upper and lower reaches of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers to develop joint approaches. Already in 2008, its motto was “Water Unites”.

We have made available 35 million euros so far for training, political advisory services and the establishment of institutions for transboundary water management in Central Asia. One element is the Master’s course in Integrated Water Management at Kazakh-German University in Almaty, which I had the opportunity to learn more about during my visit to the University yesterday.

In the past, the Aral Sea was not the only contentious issue among the Central Asian states. The courses and uses of the region’s rivers have time and again given rise to severe diplomatic tensions. Over the past two years, in Germany, we have also been observing with great interest the changes that Uzbekistan has been initiating in the region under its new leadership. Germany welcomes the opening of the country and the new opportunities for cooperation that have arisen. We see a clear improvement in regional relations, and we hope that this path on which your country has embarked will be a sustained and successful one. That is exactly what may stop and reverse the drying up of the Syr Darya and Amu Darya rivers, thus enabling the water to again find its way to the Aral Sea. Hope dies last, as the saying goes. After decades of indiscriminate exploitation, the Aral Sea may once again slowly but surely regain its former size, thereby benefiting everyone in the region.

As it is situated in the heart of Central Asia, Uzbekistan’s location is strategically important. Its location is important for us in Germany, too. For thousands of years, your country has not only been a crossroads and a place where businessmen, languages and cultures meet.

It also has a particularly important border. Your boundary with Afghanistan is where the geographic region of Central Asia ends. Yet it is at the same time a bridge to the south. We all remember well the visit to Kabul by Uzbekh Foreign Minister Kamilov in January 2017. It was the first visit in nearly two decades.

The fact that this difficult relationship, too, is slowly being re-established is a symbol of what we multilateralists believe in. All of us are obliged to not wall ourselves in, but rather engage in dialogue – although it may be difficult and does require patience.

That is precisely what the European Union as a community of values and the Federal Republic of Germany are built on. We believe in dialogue and in cooperation among partners, partners with whom we want to interact as equals.

For this, democracy and the rule of law are absolutely essential. Uzbekistan appears to be making good progress down this path. Even though much remains to be done – and here I will specifically mention civil society and civil rights – we look forward to expanding our dialogue with Uzbekistan. Whether that be in the OSCE, or in connection with Uzbekistan’s desire to accede to the WTO.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Sustainable development also means developing long-term solutions for society. This includes actively promoting education, the health sector, a sustainable micro and macroeconomy, social justice and strong civil societies that can clearly and without fear point out deficiencies. In this connection, I specifically welcome the simplification of NGO legislation in Uzbekistan.

In the context of the EU Central Asia Strategy, and in particular its newest edition, we are helping to support and promote sustainable economic policies, education, the rule of law and civil society.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, which is a co-organiser of this event – and for that I want to say a special thank you to Ms Kiefer, Ms Rezyapova and the entire team – is one of the institutions through which Germany wants to establish and intensify dialogue with Uzbekistan. With a view to achieving this objective, we also support other German, international and local organisations. At conferences like this, I am always happy to hear about the experiences you have had with German institutions. Please do give me your feedback.

Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize the following: it is my desire that Uzbekistan play an important role and assume responsibility in Central Asia. Uzbekistan is located in the heart of a region that is increasingly taking command of its own destiny, through more collective action and in cooperation with its regional and international partners. It is my desire that Uzbekistan resolutely set its sights on the future and act as a motor for a prosperous and open Central Asia. It is my desire that, in future, the multi-ethnic societies of Central Asia can fully enjoy their human and civil rights, and that their economies may be sustainable, thereby bringing prosperity, peace and security to the entire region. Germany stands by to help you, also in the future, as you walk down this path.

Thank you.


Rede von Staatsministerin Michelle Müntefering am Trinity College Dublin ...
Datum/Zeit: 19 Sep 2018, 14:32
Inhalt:

--- es gilt das gesprochene Wort ---

“Absolute, magnificent, and frightening”, was how the author Heinrich Böll described Irish rain. His “Irish Journal”, which has been read by millions, played a major role in shaping the image which Germans have had of your country since the 1960s. I didn’t find the rain “frightening” today – thanks to Apple.

However, weather forecasts and knowledge transfers weren’t always smart and digital. I’ve just had the privilege of admiring the Book of Kells and the library’s Long Room. I have to say that I’m not surprised so many people all over the world come here for the same reason.

Ireland as a whole with its traditions and history is fascinating – its continuity in change. These rooms, this cultural heritage, bear witness to that. It’s therefore an honour for me to be here today and I think I can say to you: even though you won’t be aware of it to the same degree in every lecture – those of you studying here are privileged. You have the opportunity to learn something which no-one in the world can take away from you.

But it’s about more than pure knowledge – if need be, we can actually find that on the Internet today. It’s about education and also culture. This is not something rigid, not something that you can simply learn by heart. Education and culture thrive on exchange and cooperation.

They thrive on “curiosity, openness, discourse and diversity”.

And that’s what we need more than ever today. For here in Europe, just as in other parts of the world, populism is trying to inject poison into our societies and to drown out science and academic research with fake news.

The achievements of cooperation, multilateralism and democracy are in jeopardy, for Europe is facing new challenges while old certainties seem to be dissolving to an ever greater extent. Especially today, we need more people to engage in exchange again.

You would think that modern technology makes it easy. But is it really? We may know everything, even at the same time – but do we also know what is truly important?

Has political debate become more transparent because it’s conducted via Twitter?

Do we know how to take advantage of the possibilities offered by technology, what kind of culture we want to create? Do we want a digital economy? Or do want a “social digital economy”?

And what does this mean for our prosperity and our society? In the light of the large-scale global interdependence, we can only answer these questions together.

I’m a child of the 1980s. I grew up in western Germany with a Comodore 64, Datasette and “Moonwalker” and I was the first pupil in my class to own a mobile. So I’m certainly not a cultural pessimist. However, I believe we should critically assess all the developments we take for granted today.

The more we know and are able to do, the more we should scrutinise them. That’s the only way we can change anything in this world. Especially if we don’t want to lose what has become dear and valuable to us.

This university has produced many clever minds – and some of their biographies highlight how European history connects.

I can imagine that studying in the midst of this history can be an incentive but can also engender respect. Perhaps it even raises the expectations that students have of themselves.

However, it also has to be said that those who went before us, before you, weren’t infallible geniuses who didn’t have doubts.

I’ve often thought about Samuel Beckett recently, especially in view of our theme today, namely Europe. He studied here and gained a first class degree – and yet at some point he was struggeling with his hometown Dublin, and finally moved to Paris.

He travelled to Berlin and met the artists of the Brücke movement, whose work was banned shortly afterwards. He also experienced the growing threat of National Socialism.

I’m convinced that it’s important to learn more about history if we want to learn the right lessons from the past. However, I mainly thought of Samuel Beckett for a different reason.

In Paris and already writing in French, Beckett created a work which we all know: “Waiting for Godot”. In the play, Estragon and Vladimir wait (spoiler alert!) in vain. They think about what they could do. For example, kill themselves. But they don’t do anything. The present is meaningless to them, for those who wait look for meaning in the future.

Interestingly, another figure appears who is supposed to think ahead and strings together fragments of learning and knowledge in a random and incoherent manner. He thus presents a kind of “scrap heap” of thinking.

At any rate, the play has become synonymous with absurd theatre.

Looking at this day and age and our Europe, however, I find this message very relevant today.

It’s not enough to wait.

The reality is that we can no longer take Europe for granted. We need to work closely together on reshaping Europe if we want to be able to meet the global challenges.

It seems to be obvious, but we should remember that we’re far too small at the global level to defend and assert our interests on our own.

And apart from that, Europe is the key project for peace in our time. After the terrible experiences of the 20th century, we should regard this project as an incredible gift.

That is why “Europe United” should become the motto of the European Union, and not just because of Brexit or Donald Trump’s “America First” policies.

Apart from the political will to take joint action, “Europe United” means standing up for effective multilateralism in Europe.

We must have the necessary means and instruments in order to be effective. And where they don’t yet exist, we must create them.

To put it simply, this means deciding whether we believe we can achieve more together or alone. I firmly believe that we achieve more together.

This special place prompts us to ask: why is the cultural and academic exchange today so important to the future of the European Union? Why is the exchange among you, young Europeans and students, so crucial? What does that mean for Ireland, Germany and our bilateral relations?

I believe you’ve already given the answer yourselves: 92 per cent of Irish people – indeed 97 per cent of the 18 to 25 year olds – want to remain in the EU. I’m convinced that this positive attitude is partly due to the fact that the Irish regard the European Union as a project for peace. Young people in our two countries can ensure that this remains so. That’s my great hope.

Some 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is what the Irish rightly want it to remain: nothing more than a line on the map. Membership of both the EU and the Common Travel Area has made this island more peaceful, prosperous, indeed a better place to live.

Germany is working with Ireland to ensure that after Brexit all that’s been achieved is not put at risk and that a new border is not established. Ireland will be affected, both economically and politically, more than any other EU member state by Brexit.

We deeply regret the British decision to leave the EU. Just like the Irish, we’re keen for economic and political reasons to forge the closest possible ties with the UK after Brexit. Our solidarity with Ireland is steadfast: there cannot be a hard border in Ireland. It’s vital that the peace process isn’t endangered.

Foreign Minister Maas reiterated this once more during his visit to Dublin in his talks with Foreign Minister and Tánaiste Coveney this April, as well as in Berlin three weeks ago. However, the Brexit negotiations have made one thing clear: the EU can stand united and be strong together in difficult times.

We, the German Government, are taking these challenges very seriously and want, together with our EU partners, to strengthen the European idea and to stand up for our shared values and beliefs.

Culture has a very special role to play here. We have to counter populism, nationalism and isolationism with a common European culture which extends beyond the borders of nation-states. Instead of national representation, we’re placing our faith in co-production and exchange in our international cultural policy. We believe that cultural policy is always also work to foster peace.

International cultural policy is the third pillar in Germany’s foreign policy alongside traditional diplomacy and economic relations. The Cultural Department at the Federal Foreign Office will be one hundred years old in 2020. We’re already working to be more critical of ourselves.

We want to draft a new programme together with all our experts around the world. It is intended to provide guidance and orientation for a modern international cultural policy in a changed world.

Youth exchange, town twinnings, the promotion of artists and joint creative processes, coming to grips with history – all of this is already an important part of a foreign policy aimed at moving away from nation-state politics and towards civil society-based politics.

I have a concrete example of how this can be done: Heinrich Böll, who described Irish rain so beautifully, loved Ireland and his cottage on Achill Island.

It is still used today to provide a refuge where artists-in-residence from around the globe can stay for a short period to find inspiration and peace in the breathtakingly lovely landscape.
Its initiatives like this, often run by volunteers, which create protected spaces for artists and can inject new impetus into our relations.

For us therefore, cultural policy doesn’t mean “exporting” culture. We’ve opted for cooperation and collaboration. Language and curiosity are basic prerequisites for this. I’m therefore delighted that the Irish Government attached special importance to culture and the German language in a review of bilateral relations with Germany.

By the way, just under 60,000 Irish pupils are now learning German at school, while more than 4000 students are learning it at university. In the last Leaving Cert – there was a rise of 10 per cent in the number of pupils taking a German exam compared to the previous year.

The Goethe-Institute, for whose re-opening in Merrion Square I’ve come to Dublin today, offers language courses for more than 1000 participants each year.

These figures are impressive and I hope that we can work together with the Irish Government to increase them. The German-Irish Chamber of Commerce estimates that there are 2000 vacancies in Ireland at present for which people with a knowledge of German are being sought. At any rate, Germany has much to offer – especially Berlin.

There’s an amazing creative scene in the German capital today. What’s more, important social issues can be discussed, also from a cultural perspective, in the conferences run by re:publica, which have provided key public spaces for discourse in the digital sphere since 2007.

Last year, we helped re:publica to also organise “re:connecting Europe” conferences in Thessaloniki and Dublin. It should be no surprise that Dublin was chosen. Being home to the European headquarters of the world’s largest IT companies, as well as a number of start-ups, Dublin plays a key role in the spread of digital technology.

I was very interested to hear that Trinity College Dublin is leading Europe when it comes to training business people. I’m certain that we can learn a lot from each other in this sphere and that we can cooperate even more.

Academic exchange between our countries is already very close and diverse. There are just under 400 university collaborations. Trinity College Dublin alone has 30 partner universities in Germany. All in all, around 1400 German Erasmus students come to Ireland every year and around 500 Irish Erasmus students go to Germany.

I hope we can increase these numbers. They often result in lifelong friendships – or more: we estimate that there are already more than one million “Erasmus babies”. We can certainly say here that they didn’t wait. They just got on with it.

Students, ladies and gentlemen,

That is what counts. It’s not enough to do nothing. For we cannot do nothing. So we have to do our bit. That’s my interpretation and, at the same time, my key message to you.

Stay curious, critical and vigilant. To paraphrase Samuel Beckett: we have to do our utmost to plunge into the depths. For the surface is our enemy.

One thing is certain, after all: the world won’t wait for us – but we can shape it together.

The European election is an opportunity for this. So, don’t wait – vote!


Speech by the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, at the opening of the High-Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region ...
Datum/Zeit: 19 Sep 2018, 14:29
Inhalt:

--- es gilt das gesprochene Wort ---

If the Goethe‑Institute did not exist, then we would have to invent it. And I’ll tell you why.

The Goethe‑Institute is promoting the cause of peace – all around the world. With its worldwide network, the Goethe‑Institute builds bridges, brings people together and creates a safe environment.

At a time when nothing can be taken for granted any more, as Foreign Minister Maas summed up the situation recently, this is more important than ever.

This not only applies to countries and regions in which the Goethe‑Institut, with its safe environment, makes free exchange and therefore cultural freedom possible in the first place, but also, to an increasing extent, to Europe, whose fundamental idea of freedom is at risk of eroding.

We must counter this trend. I therefore found a current project by the Goethe‑Institut in Dublin particularly striking when I came across it, namely the project “Freiraum”.

Throughout Europe, the branches of the Goethe‑Institut work with over 50 actors from the worlds of culture, science and civil society and focuses on important topics of our day and age.

“Freiraum”

  • What does freedom mean in Europe today?
  • Where is it under threat? How can we strengthen it?

The Goethe‑Institut in Dublin is, to my mind, implementing this project in a most impressive and practical way.

In cooperation with the Trinity Access Programmes, which aim to increase the share of students from non‑privileged families at Trinity College Dublin, the project is geared towards pupils aged from 15 to 16 in particular – an important time for young people.

It’s objective is to point out ways for pupils to access language and culture and to demonstrate how these can enrich their lives both privately and professionally. This takes place within the framework of school visits, for example.

If we can get young people enthusiastic about European languages and cultures and help open doors to courses of study for them, then I’m certain that this is both a successful European and a successful international cultural policy.

This is a shining example of the fact that the Goethe‑Institut’s strength lies in a cultural policy that is not a vehicle for exporting culture.

It offers a protected, politically independent environment for culture, education and exchange, as well as scope for expanding cooperative partnerships and friendships. We consider this to be a shift from a cultural policy representing the nation to a cultural policy that focuses on the social function of culture.  

We have a vested interest in strengthening this approach and we will continue to support the Goethe‑Institut’s worldwide network – also together with other European partners.

It is therefore a particular pleasure for me to speak to you today at the reopening of the Goethe‑Institut in Dublin on Merrion Square at the heart of the Irish capital in these wonderfully restored premises. The Goethe‑Institut in Dublin was one of the very first branches of the institute to be established abroad. It was opened here in this building on 25 October 1961 at a ceremony attended by the Taoiseach (Irischer Premierminister).

In his opening speech, the Ambassador at the time, Dr Reifferscheidt, declared the following: “May the opening of this house later be remembered as a milestone in our traditional friendship”.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Team of the Goethe‑Institute,

And so it is with great joy that we recall this event today. The Goethe‑Institut in Dublin has become a pillar of the German‑Irish friendship.

The language courses that you offer, the cultural events promoted throughout the country, and now the library shining in new splendour are impacting perceptions of Germany among the Irish. You are opening doors to Germany and promoting mutual understanding and the development of joint ideas.

What we have in common is under threat, however. Partnerships and international solidarity, which were once safe as houses, are being put to the test.

We are observing a resurgence of nationalism, isolationism and populism in many countries.

We’re taking this seriously and are focusing on cooperation and partnership instead of national isolationism – and culture plays a decisive role here as the third pillar of German foreign policy.

Culture depends on exchange and would otherwise neither exist nor have any impact.

The European Union is the best example of this, and not in spite of, but owing to its cultural and linguistic diversity.

Should you, as European Union citizens, have opened your passport before, then you will have perhaps come across the following: “An tAontas Eorpach”: That’s what the EU is called in Irish. Irish is one of the 24 official languages of the EU, although it is only spoken on a daily basis by a small proportion of Ireland’s 4.5 million people nowadays, namely 1.8 percent.

While only few people speak this language, this is a reflection of Europe’s cultural richness – and an embodiment of our motto “united in diversity”.

Being open to this diversity and understanding it is a tangible contribution to the cause of peace, also in Europe.

I’m therefore all the more delighted that the Goethe‑Institut in Dublin is such a strong partner at our side for our international cultural policy in Ireland, a partner that thinks in a decidedly European way.

I’m certain that these new premises, which combine the old and the new, will continue to strengthen your linguistic and cultural work – and thus also promote the cause of understanding.

Over 1000 people will learn German here each year, get to know Germany and delve into the German language with the help of the library’s collection of 10,000 media items, as well as attend cultural events here.

I hope that this will be a lively institution, here in the centre of Dublin, that will, I’m quite sure, continue to make a vital contribution to our bilateral relations with Ireland. It’s no coincidence, Minister Madigan, that our Irish friends have attached great importance to art and language in a review of our bilateral relations.

These two things have always helped to bring our countries closer together – we need only think of Heinrich Böll’s Irish Journal, published 60 years ago. I hope that we will harness this dynamism, also against the backdrop of Brexit, to continue to strengthen our bilateral relations as a whole.

Allow me in conclusion to wish you all a wonderful evening and thought‑provoking discussions with one another.

I wish the Goethe‑Institute’s staff and visitors, as well as its language course participants every success and a great deal of fun in these new premises.

Thank you very much.


Staatsminister Roth reist nach Polen ...
Datum/Zeit: 19 Sep 2018, 09:40
Inhalt:

Der Staatsminister für Europa, Michael Roth, bricht heute (19.09.) zu einer zweitägigen Reise nach Warschau auf. Dort wird er neben politischen Gesprächen im Außenministerium auch die Stiftung für Deutsch-Polnische Zusammenarbeit besuchen und an der Verleihung des Young European Awards, einem paneuropäischen Jugendpreis, teilnehmen. Michael Roth wird darüber hinaus Vertreterinnen und Vertreter der polnischen Zivilgesellschaft sowie den Bürgerrechtsbeauftragten treffen und an einer Plenarsitzung des Office for Demorcatic Intitutions and Human Rights der OSZE teilnehmen.

Vor seiner Abreise erklärte Staatsminister Roth:

Rechtsstaatlichkeit gehört zu den fundamentalen Prinzipien, auf denen die Europäische Union basiert. Deshalb führt die EU darüber einen sehr ernsthaften Dialog mit Polen. Für mich ist es gerade deshalb wichtig, im direkten Kontakt sowohl mit der polnischen Regierung wie auch mit der polnischen Zivilgesellschaft die Lage in aller Offenheit zu besprechen. Europa muss jetzt zusammen stehen. Aber stets auf Grundlage gemeinsamer Werte.


Staatsministerin Müntefering reist nach Dublin ...
Datum/Zeit: 18 Sep 2018, 15:32
Inhalt:

Am Mittwoch, den 19.09.2018, reist die Staatsministerin im Auswärtigen Amt für internationale Kulturpolitik, Michelle Müntefering, nach Dublin um gemeinsam mit der irischen Kulturministerin Madigan das dortige Goethe Institut nach umfangreichen Neubau- und Sanierungsmaßnahmen wiederzueröffnen.

Vorher besucht die Staatsministerin das renommierte Trinity College und spricht mit Studierenden über die deutsch-irischen Beziehungen und die besondere Bedeutung von Kultur- und Wissenschaftsaustausch. Die Reise steht in einer Reihe hochrangiger gegenseitiger Besuche, im Lichte des jüngst immer enger werdenden Austausch Deutschlands und Irlands.

Vor ihrer Abreise erklärte Staatsministerin Müntefering:

Ich freue mich sehr auf meine erste offizielle Reise nach Irland. Im Mittelpunkt stehen die Eröffnung der neuen Räumlichkeiten des Goethe Institutes und der Besuch des renommierten Trinity College, einer der ältesten Universitäten der Welt.

Im Austausch mit den Studierenden soll es um die Frage gehen, wie wir gemeinsam eine europäische Zukunft gestalten können, und welchen Beitrag Kultur hierzu leisten kann.

Zum Weiterlesen

Deutschland und Irland: bilaterale Beziehungen


Auswärtiges Amt zu tödlichem Messerangriff im Westjordanland ...
Datum/Zeit: 17 Sep 2018, 12:22
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Zu dem tödlichen Messerangriff in einem Einkaufszentrum in der Siedlung Gush Etzion, bei dem gestern ein Mann getötet wurde, erklärte ein Sprecher des Auswärtigen Amts heute (17.09.):

Der gestrige Angriff auf einen Israeli im Westjordanland erfüllt uns mit tiefer Trauer und Sorge. Unser aufrichtiges Mitgefühl gilt der Familie und den Hinterbliebenen des Mannes. Dass es Stimmen gibt, die eine solche feige Tat begrüßen und so weiteren Hass schüren, ist durch nichts zu rechtfertigen.

Wir verurteilen solche Gewaltakte genau wie Anstiftung dazu oder Rechtfertigung derselben mit allem Nachdruck. Sie werden nur dazu führen, dass das Ziel, dass Israelis und Palästinenser in zwei Staaten Seite an Seite in Frieden und Sicherheit leben können, in weitere Ferne rückt.


Rede von Europa-Staatsminister Michael Roth bei der Abschlussveranstaltung der Pride Parade in Belgrad (englisch) ...
Datum/Zeit: 16 Sep 2018, 15:30
Inhalt:

-- es gilt das gesprochene Wort --

Dear friends,

today we’re celebrating in Belgrade a festival of tolerance and diversity – loud and colourful, peaceful and full of hope!

Human rights belong to everyone, without exception – regardless of ethnic or religious background, gender or sexual identity. Let me be very clear: When we talk about LGBTI rights, we aren’t thinking about exclusive rights or privileges for minorities. LGBTI rights are human rights!

What we are fighting for is an open, tolerant and liberal society, in which everybody is treated as an equal citizen. Love is love – and it doesn’t matter at all if men love men, if women love women or if men love women.

I am very glad to be back in Belgrade this year for Pride Week and to participate in the Parade. After 2015 and 2016 it is already my third stay in Belgrade during Pride Week.

This year, once again we demonstrated peacefully for the rights of LGBTI – that is a big success. It seems to me that the number of participants is increasing from year to year, while the number of police forces securing us and the number of protesters against us is decreasing. This is a good sign, as it speaks for normalisation, even if it’s slow.

On days like this we are grateful to the courageous mothers and fathers of the LGBTI movement who fought hard for their right to go on the streets at a time when this was much more dangerous than today.

But in these hours our thoughts are also with those who still cannot demonstrate for their rights without fear –They can count on our solidarity!

We have to raise our voices against these violations of human rights in other parts of the world where LGBTI rights are under much more pressure. Solidarity to our friends in Cameroon, in Algiers, in Russia or in Istanbul. Today we are standing united and sending a signal of hope to the world. Our message is "love wins!"

This year's Pride Week theme “Marriage Equality” is very important. But it's also a particularly controversial social issue. Sometimes, progress takes a long time. Even in Germany – a country that is considered to be rather liberal and progressive – it took until summer 2017 to pass a law to grant full equality to same-sex couples.

And still there 14 EU states where same-sex marriages are still not on an equal legal footing with heterosexual marriages. Despite all the progress we have made during the last few years, we still have a lot of work ahead of us – not only in Serbia, but also in the whole EU. But it is worth keeping up the fight with full commitment.

As we were walking along Kralja Milana, we passed the Pride Info Center. A real Community Center has been created here. Right in the city center, with sufficient space for events, but also for meetings of all Belgrade LGBTI groups and - and this is particularly important to me - for dialogue with interested people.

This morning I already got my own impression of the center and learned that the financing will only be available until the end of the year. It is very important that this institution will continue its work permanently in Belgrade.

I therefore promise you that Germany continues to support the Center beyond the end of the year, and I encourage like-minded countries to do the same!

Dear friends, thank you so much for your engagement, your courage, your solidarity and your commitment. I’m proud of you!


Staatsminister Annen reist nach Kasachstan und Usbekistan ...
Datum/Zeit: 16 Sep 2018, 09:17
Inhalt:

Staatsminister Niels Annen reist vom 17. bis  18. September in die kasachische Hauptstadt Astana und nach Almaty. Dort führt er unter anderem politische Gespräche mit Außenminister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, dem außenpolitischen Berater des Präsidenten Nasarbajew, Nurlan Onzhanov sowie zur Lage der deutschen Minderheit im Land. Der Besuch in Almaty steht dann ganz im Zeichen der Zivilgesellschaft und der wirtschaftlichen Beziehungen. Zudem besucht Staatsminister Annen die Deutsch-Kasachische Universität, um sich dort aus erster Hand über die Wasserproblematik in Zentralasien zu informieren.

Im Anschluss hieran reist Staatsminister Annen vom 19. bis 21. September nach Usbekistan weiter. In Taschkent stehen politische Gespräche mit Außenminister Abdulaziz Kamilov, der stellvertretenden Ministerpräsidentin Nazilia Narbaeva sowie dem stellvertretenden Vorsitzenden des Senats Sadiq Safeiev auf dem Programm. Im Rahmen der Konferenz “Uzbekistan and Germany: cooperation in the field of security and sustainable development in Central Asia” wird Staatsminister Annen die Keynote halten. In Samarkand besichtigt Niels Annen u.a. das deutsch-usbekische Joint Venture von MAN.


Vor seiner Abreise erklärte Staatsminister Annen:        ‎

Ich freue mich sehr auf meine erste offizielle Reise nach Kasachstan und Usbekistan. Bei meinen politischen Gesprächen werden Fragen der regionalen Sicherheit und neue Initiativen zur regionalen Zusammenarbeit, Mittelpunkt stehen, insbesondere im Hinblick auf Afghanistan. Auch die Konnektivitäts- und Zentralasienstrategie der Europäischen Union wird breiten Raum in den Gesprächen einnehmen. Zudem möchte ich mich über die von Präsident Mirsiyoyev in Usbekistan angestoßenen Reformprozesse informieren. Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit sind für die gesamte Region unumgänglich. Deshalb werde ich mich natürlich in beiden Ländern mit Vertreterinnen und Vertretern der Zivilgesellschaft treffen.      


Hintergrund:

Deutschland fühlt sich der Region Zentralasien seit langem verbunden und war eines der ersten Länder, das mit den fünf zentralasiatischen Ländern Kasachstan, Kirgisistan, Tadschikistan, Turkmenistan und Usbekistan diplomatische Beziehungen aufgenommen hat.

Unter deutscher EU-Ratspräsidentschaft wurde im Jahr 2007 die Zentralasienstrategie der Europäischen Union angenommen, in der bereits vor mehr als zehn Jahren erstmals politische Leitlinien für unser Engagement in der Region entwickelt wurden. Am 19. September 2018 veröffentlicht die Europäische Union eine Gemeinsame Mitteilung für eine künftige EU-Asien Konnektivitätsstrategie.

Im Frühjahr 2018 hat eine 70 köpfige Wirtschaftsdelegation aus Deutschland zuletzt Usbekistan besucht.