Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier congratulated Prof. Jürgen Habermas on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The congratulatory letter he sent Prof. Habermas today (18 June) reads as follows:
"Your philosophical and sociological work has influenced and shaped thinking around the world about the fundamental context of social life. As a socially engaged intellectual and valiant democrat, you have steered debates in Germany and Europe for decades. As a critical philosopher, you are part of one of our country's best traditions and have helped to continue it. We are all grateful to you for this.
Without your work, contemplating a social and democratic Europe, and taking political action to achieve it, would not be possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for the discussion we had during the German EU Presidency in 2007. Your ideas and suggestions had a lasting impact on my political thinking and actions. You inspired me to work for a social Europe, against the extremes of the market and neoliberalism, towards a global community of shared responsibility.
Your redefinition of the most important European values encouraged people in our country and across Europe to stand up for them. Though you took part in many debates, I would like to mention your arguments and position on the Iraq War in particular.
Mr Habermas, you were and still are the European voice of reason. We are lucky that this voice emanates from Germany and is heard throughout Europe and around the entire world!"