Your Royal Highness,
Prime Minister Balkenende,
Ladies and gentlemen,
"Water is peace". The UN Secretary-General again emphasized this simple, but at the same time critical, link just a few months ago.
Water is vital for life on our planet and the most important natural resource of the 21st century.
Without water there can be no economic development, no prosperity, no healthy population, and most certainly no political stability.
A forward-looking foreign policy therefore has to tackle water, an issue so essential to our future. We have to establish new corridors of cooperation, promote the fair and economical use of water and avert increasing competition for water through preventive measures.
What that means in concrete terms was highlighted by an initiative which we launched within the framework of the European Union's Central Asia Strategy.
Under the motto "Water unites", we invited representatives of all five Central Asian states to a conference which took place on 1 April. Together with representatives of the European Union, as well as experts from the academic and business communities, we discussed new strategies on regional water cooperation.
President Rahmon, you know how politically charged the issue of water is in the region. You know how much mistrust we still have to overcome in order to make full use of the potential this cooperation offers.
Despite all the obstacles, we were able to agree on pioneering follow-up projects, of which I would just like to mention three:
- We want to enhance our partnership by strengthening transboundary river and water management.
- Germany will invite and further train Central Asian water experts. We also want to improve training and technological know-how in Central Asia.
- And we will encourage Germany's water industry, which is a world leader, to become more involved in the region.
"Water unites". That applies not just in Central Asia but worldwide.
So let's take advantage of the impetus provided by today's event to agree together on concrete projects and forms of cooperation, to build new alliances and new partnerships.
Thank you very much.