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Statement by Foreign Sigmar Minister Gabriel on 31 July on the commemoration of the start of the Third Battle of Ypres

31.07.2017

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel issued the following statement before departing for Belgium:

Like Verdun, the Third Battle of Ypres is a symbol of the futile brutality of war. When we remember the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who were slain in the trenches of Flanders over the course of just a few months, our joint message is “never again”.

Never again may diplomacy fail the way it did in 1914; never again may there be war in the heart of Europe; never again may our continent’s young people be slaughtered!

It was not in 1918, but rather only after 1945, that bitter enemies became close partners and good friends in the ruins of a destroyed continent. Europeans reached out their hand to us. As a result, we Europeans achieved peace and reconciliation after two devastating world wars. Never before in the history of our continent have more than 70 years ‑ almost a human lifespan ‑ passed without war and destruction.

In a world full of crises and conflicts, it is more important than ever today to remember that Europe is far more than a single market. Europe is a peace project. Europe is our future. We can only safeguard our interests and defend our values if we stand united.

Background information:

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is representing the Federal Republic of Germany at the commemoration event in Ypres/Belgium on 31 July.

The Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele) during the First World War began on 31 July 2017 with attacks by the Allies on German positions around Ypres. The battle ended on 6 November 1917 without notable gains and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides. Along with Germany, representatives of the countries that fought in the war ‑ Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Malta, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom ‑ are attending the commemoration event at the British war cemetery, Tyne Cot, near Ypres.

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