At a memorial ceremony at the Federal Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that his predecessor’s death at such a young age was sad, unfair and “still unbelievable for many of us”. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and FDP Chairman Christian Lindner highlighted the late Foreign Minister’s achievements in the service of Europe. The memorial ceremony was co-hosted by the Federal Foreign Office, the FDP and the Westerwelle Foundation. The attendees included Westerwelle’s husband Michael Mronz and his brother Kai Westerwelle.
In public, Guido Westerwelle seemed sharp-tongued, sometimes distant and often reserved. He was a master of the rhetorical cut and thrust. But behind all this façade, he had an extraordinary feel for people and for their emotions and lives. He was sensitive and vulnerable, although he was able to hide this from almost everyone.
This is what Foreign Minister Steinmeier said in his memorial speech for his predecessor Westerwelle on Monday (4 April). In his address, Steinmeier paid special tribute to the former Foreign Minister’s “feel for people” and said that “his great interest in people was his defining characteristic.”
A passionate European
Steinmeier praised his predecessor’s “passion and loyalty” in his commitment to Europe. As Foreign Minister, Westerwelle “came down firmly on the side of European cohesion” and “took on responsibility for Europe” during the European economic and financial crisis, he continued. At the same time, said Steinmeier, Westerwelle was a “symbol of a liberal and open-minded Germany” and that this is how we would remember him. As Foreign Minister, he “had to fight to win trust and respect – and he succeeded in doing so”, he added.
At the end of his speech, Steinmeier recalled Westerwelle’s death “at such a young age” and expressed his gratitude for his predecessor’s achievements in the service of Germany and Europe: “Also on behalf of the staff of the Federal Foreign Office, thank you, Guido Westerwelle, and farewell!”
In their memorial speeches, EU Commission President Juncker and FDP Chairman Lindner paid tribute to Westerwelle’s pro-European stance and his commitment to working together in Europe. Juncker had the following to say about Westerwelle: “He was a champion of Germany and Europe. He made the world a better place. Thank you, Guido.”
Farewell, Guido Westerwelle
Lindner said that Westerwelle was a “prominent point of reference” in public debates of the last 30 years. The desire for peace shaped his view of the world, he said. Westerwelle believed that the complex and asymmetric conflicts of our age could not be resolved by military means – or at least not by such means alone – Lindner continued.
In addition to relatives, friends and companions of Guido Westerwelle, the memorial ceremony was attended by many prominent diplomats and politicians, including Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, former Federal President Horst Köhler and former Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel.