Richard von Weizsäcker meets Training for International Diplomats alumni

On 18 June the Federal Foreign Office hosted the annual meeting of Training for International Diplomats alumni currently based in Germany.  Former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker was guest of honour at a discussion with more than 110 diplomats from some 80 countries.

Following words of welcome from State Secretary Peter Ammon, Denica Zheleva, one of the latest batch of alumni, chaired the discussion. Just the previous day Ms Zheleva, who is currently working in the cabinet of the Bulgarian Foreign Minister, had successfully completed the International Executive Seminar for German-speaking Diplomats.

The reception afterwards in the Federal Foreign Office atrium was an opportunity to continue the lively discussion, get together with old friends and make new acquaintances.

Overcoming the division of Germany and Europe

The first part of the 90-minute discussion focused on the events that ended the division of Germany and Europe, events in which Weizsäcker played an important part. After explaining the background to Germany’s late emergence of a nation-state, Weizsäcker described the tensions and conflicts in Europe, the two World Wars, the horrific crimes committed by the Nazi regime and finally Germany’s total defeat and ensuing division.

The second part  of the discussion centred on the founding and subsequent enlargement of the European Community and its evolution into the European Union. The goal of a more integrated union had been set aside in order to admit the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as new members. It was now crucial to make progress on integration. The European Union should make its voice heard internationally and assume responsibility. European integration could also be an inspiration for  other regions. Linguistic and cultural differences were less an obstacle to integration than an incentive.

Addressing global challenges through international cooperation

Weizsäcker agreed that NATO was a product of the Cold War, although it now served a different function.

There were many problems that could only be resolved in cooperation with Russia and China. This had to be taken into consideration when deciding on the admission of new members. NATO would always remain a regional alliance.

Weizsäcker pointed out that the biggest problems today - nuclear proliferation, climate change, poverty, the financial crisis - were of a global nature. International institutions were addressing these issues but were often ineffectual. Nations had to grow together and not let national egoism divert them from this path. For that was the only way to tackle international problems effectively. In Weizsäcker’s view,  this was the challenge ahead for the younger generation.

Last updated 21.06.2010

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