Today in the Federal Foreign Office, tribute is being paid to a foreign minister who decisively shaped Germany's history: Hans-Dietrich Genscher was Germany's chief diplomat from 1974 to 1992. The Federal Foreign Office is remembering its former head by holding an international symposium and officially opening the Genscher Foyer.
A “Titan among diplomats” who, if need be, could be “as tough as the leather of a Texas cowboy boot” - that is how former US Secretary of State James Baker remembered his German counterpart. For almost two decades, Hans-Dietrich Genscher was Germany's face in the world. With his far-sighted foreign policy, he paved the way not just for German reunification but also for the overcoming of the division of Europe as a whole.
Why was Genscher so successful as a champion of reconciliation? What can we learn today from his work to promote an order of peace spanning Europe? These were the questions dealt with by the international symposium in the Federal Foreign Office to honour the long-serving foreign minister. Diplomats, politicians and journalists discussed what conclusions could be drawn today from Genscher's political legacy.
Courage and far-sightedness
“The name Hans-Dietrich Genscher stands for courage and far-sightedness,” Foreign Minister Gabriel declared. For him, at a time when we face new challenges on the European continent, Genscher's policy is a special inspiration. “Genscher's idea of a tolerant, liberal, free and surely also social Europe is one we can carry into the future,” Gabriel underscored.
“You recognise a good pilot by a steady hand not the loudest voice,” as one of Hans-Dietrich Genscher's mottoes goes. For Sigmar Gabriel, this approach points the way forward even today. “Hans-Dietrich Genscher's legacy also teaches us perseverance and patience,” as Gabriel emphasised. Negotiating pragmatically with difficult partners while being guided by binding values remains one of the most important challenges of foreign policy, as Gabriel pointed out.
Role model that set standards
Before the symposium, Foreign Minister Gabriel officially opened the new Hans-Dietrich Genscher Foyer. With this name, the diplomats in the Federal Foreign Office will have a constant reminder of a role model who through his actions set standards which also apply to the challenges of today.