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Statement by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on the death of Horst Ehmke

13.03.2017

Foreign Minister Gabriel issued the following statement today (13 March) on the death of Horst Ehmke:

I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of Horst Ehmke. A long and full life came to an end last night. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, to whom I would like to convey my sincere sympathy.

Over the entire course of his life, Horst Ehmke rendered invaluable services to our country and to German social democracy as a deeply committed member of the German Bundestag, a Federal Minister and a long-standing member of the SPD Executive Committee.

He leaves behind an important foreign policy legacy. German Ostpolitik would have been inconceivable without his constant work alongside Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr.

What was highly controversial at the time is now almost seen as a cliché – détente was the right policy as regards overcoming the division of Europe. Our views on conducting talks and dialogue across all political, ideological and heavily fortified borders paved the way to a free and united Europe.

Horst Ehmke played a crucial role in setting and achieving this course. He deserves heartfelt gratitude and great recognition for this. We will remember him for this work.

At an important moment in history for Germany and Europe, he recognised the sign of the times and was a firm advocate of social and political opening on the part of German social democracy.

Horst Ehmke stands for an SPD in tune with the times, a party that resolutely takes on the challenges of the present on the basis of firmly held values and courageously sets the course for the future.

I will remember Horst Ehmke as a great social democrat, a gifted speaker and a brave and open-minded thinker.

I will remain a fan of his political detective novels, which include many of his experiences in politics.

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