German reunification would not have been conceivable without the brave Poles who resolutely fought, protested and went on strike for freedom and a genuine democratic say. Their calls for freedom resonated far beyond Gdansk and Lublin. They knocked the first stones from the wall that divided Europe. I am grateful to be celebrating the Day of German Unity in Warsaw today together with our Polish friends.
In Ukraine, Poland’s immediate neighbour, Putin has been waging a brutal war of aggression for months now. And Poles are once again showing courage and great solidarity as they take the lead in supporting Ukraine. We are standing up together as Europeans against Russia’s war of aggression and Putin’s attempts to illegally shift borders. In Warsaw, I plan to talk to my Polish counterpart about how we can together increase our assistance to Ukraine even further. We know that Europe is strong today because it is keeping its unity.
I can hardly remember a moment with more hope during my political career than Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004. And it was no false hope. The ties across the Oder and Neisse are closer today than ever. Germany is Poland’s leading trade partner, and even last year Poland was three times more important than Russia for German trade. As partners in a shared Europe, we have the opportunity to shape our future for the good of our children. But we also have the responsibility to preserve the trust that we have built up together over the last thirty years.
As part of these efforts, confronting and remembering the immeasurable suffering that Germany inflicted on the people of Poland will remain important tasks for our generation and for those that follow – no line can or will be drawn under these commitments.