Address by Guido Westerwelle at the German-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce in Rio de Janeiro

15.03.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr Governor,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first of all thank you most sincerely for this invitation.

In the coming years, the world will look to Brazil to a greater extent than perhaps ever before.

Just a few years ago, we in Germany experienced to what degree global sporting events shape a country’s image. The motto of summer 2006 was “A time to make friends”. That wasn’t an advertising slogan, it was reality. Even those who would never dream of going to a stadium on a Saturday to watch a league game couldn’t escape the enthusiasm which gripped the entire country.

No-one who was there has forgotten how people sat or stood in the streets or in cafés and celebrated together.

No-one will forget the friendly atmosphere which was palpable at every street corner.

People all around the world recall the images of laughter and cheers, and of tears, too, which flowed when a team was eliminated from the tournament.

That’s what sport is all about: it’s about the competition, about the best performance, about fair play, about skill and talent, as well as about emotions which touch everyone.

What we’re talking about today attracts less attention. The images I’ve just described can only materialize if planning and organization are coordinated to perfection. The preparation is successful if it is no longer consciously perceived once the first game kicks off.

The questions which you in Rio de Janeiro must answer are the same as the ones we in Germany had to answer prior to the 2006 World Cup.

I’d like to mention just a few.

How can stadia be used meaningfully once the final is over and the Cup has been presented? How can transport links be planned so that new bus and train routes serve the local population in the long term? How can investments help to make cities safer, cleaner and more attractive to live in?

And how can the population be involved in the planning so that people accept and take advantage of the changes these developments entail?

Sport will change Rio de Janeiro. You’re therefore right to look now at what happens after the World Cup.

I’m delighted that you are doing so in collaboration with German business.

For German business gained valuable experience in how to make global sporting events a success when it helped to prepare the World Cup in Germany.

We should see the World Cup and the Olympic Games as shared opportunities to set the course for the future in Rio.

Cooperation has already begun. Architects and construction companies from Germany were sought-after partners for the World Cup in South Africa and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. And German architects are currently planning four World Cup stadia in Brazil.

Following reunification, Germany renewed – and in some cases built from scratch – large parts of the transport and communications infrastructure in eastern Germany.

We can put this experience to use in the coming years. For transport – especially on medium-range routes, Germany developed state-of-the-art trains which combine eco-friendliness and speed. Just take the high-speed ICE train, which only takes 90 minutes to travel between Germanys largest two cities, Berlin and Hamburg. That’s a distance of just under 300 kilometres. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are only about 50 kilometres further apart.

Alongside transport, energy supply also offers opportunities for close cooperation. Regenerative energies are being used more both inside and outside the stadia.

Germany leads the world when it comes to solar energy – and to wind energy, too, for that matter. If we join forces, we will send key messages about Brazil’s long-term energy supply strategy.

German business has launched the Initiative WinWin 2014/16 for the sporting events of the coming decade.

Within this framework, German companies are positioning themselves to prepare for potential projects in connection with the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games.

I’m delighted that the Chairman of this initiative, Dr Zoller, is accompanying me on this tour. I’m confident that the Chamber of Commerce in Rio de Janeiro will do everything it can to support these projects.

The Initiative demonstrates how important German-Brazilian economic relations are. Our economies are closely linked to one another. I believe I speak for everyone present when I say that I hope our relations will be even more intensive in future.

My trip has taken me to Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil because I wanted to gain a first-hand impression of your continent’s dynamism.

The impressions I take home with me will go into the strategy on Latin America on which the German Government is currently working.

I have emphasized time and again during my trip that we have to shape globalization positively. The fact that as Foreign Minister I intend to support German business with every means at my disposal is an important part of that.

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