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Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the opening of the new Turkish Embassy in Berlin

30.10.2012

--Translation of advance text --

After almost 70 years, the Turkish Embassy has come back to Tiergartenstrasse. Turkey has penned an impressive success story over the last decade. It has made the leap to become a new global player.

The Turkish economy is booming. It is one of Europe’s strongest. At home, Turkey has implemented important reforms, in the judiciary and with a view to religious minorities. Much remains to be done but important milestones have been reached.

With its policy of modernization, Turkey is the living proof of how to combine Islam and democracy. It inspires millions of people on its doorstep and further afield.

Today, a unique relationship links us Germans to this Turkey on the rise. Mr Erdoğan, you said yourself quite rightly a year ago: “We belong together.” Germany is Turkey’s most important economic partner.

Almost three million people of Turkish origin are living in Germany. Most of them have German citizenship. They enrich our culture. We cannot imagine our society without them. They are part of us.

That is why we protect Muslim and Jewish traditions alike. That is why we will not tolerate right-wing extremism or xenophobia in our country. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot.

We will improve mutual understanding and our partnership through more youth exchange. At our strategic dialogue in late November, my colleague Ahmed Davutoğlu and I shall with this in mind set up a German-Turkish Youth Bridge.

Our relations also always have a European dimension. We have a shared interest in breathing new life into the process to draw the European Union and Turkey closer together.

It is more than two years since a new chapter was opened in the negotiations on accession to the EU. This standstill is not good. For both sides, it is not good. In the coming year, we want to make a new start here.

At this time, it is becoming especially clear: we now need close exchange between Ankara, Berlin and Brussels on foreign policy issues. We are close partners in dealing with the historic changes that have swept through the Arab world.

This is especially true of the dramatic situation at the Syrian border. As NATO partners, we Germans stand at the side of Turkey. The circumspection with which the Turkish Government is proceeding has our recognition and our solidarity.

The partnership between our two countries is not just political in nature. It is a firm bond that links our people woven by many million families and many million travellers.

Long live the German-Turkish friendship! Yasasin Türk-Alman Dostlugu! Biz birlikteyiz!

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