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Speech by Federal Minister Westerwelle at the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce, 29 March 2010

29.03.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Lieber Herr Breitschwerdt,

Ihnen und den Mitgliedern der deutsch-kanadischen Handelskammer ganz herzlichen Dank für die Einladung zu diesem Festakt.

Minister Pupatello, Minister Van Loan,

President Naylor,

It is a real honour and pleasure to be here with you. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today at this eminent University, in this dynamic city, in this huge province and beautiful country.

Canada is known worldwide as a tolerant and open-minded country. As host of the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games Canada was the focus for all sports fans around the world. Let me thank Canada for such wonderful Games. Once more Canada has lived up to its high reputation and presented itself as a wonderful host. And I am happy to congratulate Canada on its first position in the medal table. By the way, Germany came in second.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In purely geographical terms Canada and Germany are far apart. But when it comes to our values and our interests Canada and Germany are very close. Our two countries share the same fundamental values. These include democracy and the rule of law, the need for international cooperation and the primacy of international law. We share a similar understanding of the value of individual freedom. All of these values bind us together.

To defend these common values Canadian Forces were based in Germany for four decades. From 1954 to 1994 Canadian men and women helped us to confront Communism along the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall. More than 400.000 Canadians lived in Germany to protect our shared free and democratic ideals. We thank you for your staunch support and your strong friendship.

And it was here in Canada, in Ottawa, at the Open Skies Conference in 1990, that the process of negotiating the Two plus Four Agreement was started. This year we celebrate with gratitude the 20th anniversary of German Unification.

That you had an event here to commemorate the beginning of the Two plus Four process is something I really appreciate.

Let me assure you: The German people will not forget the part Canada played in bringing down the Berlin Wall and in the unification of our country. Some people speak of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, but the Wall did not fall, people brought it down. We will always be very grateful to Canada.

German foreign policy is value-based and interest-led. That is not a contradiction but the two sides of the same coin. The German-Canadian relationship reflects this combination in a unique manner. Our relationship is not only based on shared values, but also on shared interests.

Both our countries are major economic powers, both are heavily dependent on exports. More than many other countries Germany and Canada have to be concerned about the lurking dangers of protectionism. All countries profit from free trade. But more than elsewhere our prosperity is a result of free access to foreign markets.

Both of us face competition from emerging economies, such as China, India and Brazil. Our two countries cannot – and don't want to – compete on salaries or social and environmental standards with those countries. The cheaper the products from those countries, the better and more advanced our products have to be. More than many other countries Canada and Germany have to stay at the forefront of research and development to maintain prosperity.

This year we celebrate one hundred years of Canadian-German trade relations.

Today our bilateral annual trade volume adds up to more than 10 billion Euros. The EU is Canada's second largest trading partner in goods and services. Canadian-German trade relations are a success story. But there is still potential for further growth.

As Minister for Foreign Affairs I intend to support German business with every means at my disposal. Soon after taking office I saw to it that strategies were developed with the aim of enhancing Germany's external economic policy. We want to open up external economic promotion to other sectors and make it more attractive to small and medium—sized companies in particular. These form the backbone of the German economy. Let me assure you: I will pursue external economic promotion not with timidity but with vigor. In other words, I will do it the Canadian way. It is no accident that your foreign ministry is called “Department for Foreign Affairs and International Trade”.

In a globalized world it is not enough for countries like Canada and Germany just to expand their trade volume. We have to deepen our trade relations.

That is why in 2007, when Germany held the Presidency of the European Union, we lobbied hard to get the EU to work with Canada on a “Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement”. Both sides have been doing their homework. Formal discussions have begun and are going well. They take us into new territory for our bilateral relations. To meet the goals we have set, we have to look at investment rules; at provincial as well as federal government procurement; at regulations; at intellectual property rights; at local competition policies; at labour and environment issues. We may not be able to agree on everything but a substantial agreement will not only be a major boost to Canadian-European trade, but also to the German and Canadian position on the global market.

Both our countries will only be able to keep their positions at the forefront of prosperous states if we make sure that we maintain our position at the high end of the value chain.

To do that, we have to invest heavily in education, in innovation, in science and in research and in development. The answer is to use our advantages, to bring out the very best that we can offer to the world. And, more and more, that is something we do in partnership with other countries.

Just one example: Research in Motion and their latest Blackberry: They came up with a keyboard that is very small and still easy to use because every single letter is cleverly and differently shaped. That was invented at RIM’s new facility in Bochum, Germany.

And there are many other similar examples.

By combining the best of research and science in many countries we stay competitive in a globalized world. In that respect, Germany, the EU and Canada have a lot to offer each other.

Education is the number one priority in both our countries. The new German government will invest an extra 12 billion Euro in education, research and development. But improving educational institutions is not only a question of money. It is also a question of structures.

Business schools have long talked about “best practices”. Learning from each other about what works and what does not.

One very good example of “best practices” is the award given in 2008 by the Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the most prestigious institutions in Germany, to the Toronto District School Board for its work in providing fair and equal opportunities for all children. At the awards ceremony, the Foundation said: "The school system in Toronto shows us what actions we have to take, considering the challenges we are facing from globalization, migration and demographic change”. Using the experience of Toronto, the Foundation has launched its own programme in Germany called “Integration Through Education”.

I think this is the way forward. As the challenges we face grow more complex, we all profit from looking for solutions also beyond our borders.

The global economic and financial crisis has not led to a slowing down or halt in the globalization process. The effects of the economic and financial crisis are, in fact, the expression of advancing globalization. Events that take place in far-flung corners of the globe directly affect us. The same rule applies to the economy and financial affairs, the environment, climate change, energy and food: we can only achieve sustainable solutions together if we cooperate at a global level.

We need to work together on defusing conflicts before they escalate, using preventive foreign policy. In order to do this we need to address the roots of these problems. Where are conflicts more likely because of a lack of resources? How can we use our foreign policy and economic tools to prevent these conflicts? Our foreign policy must prevent global problems from turning into global crises. Today foreign policy must ensure that globalization develops on the basis of a set of rules and values. Let me underline this: Our shared goal must be to give globalization a set of rules and values so that peace, security and prosperity are safeguarded in the long term.

Here we see Canada as a natural partner, because we share the same fundamental values and interests.

As I am travelling to the meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers today, let me point out just two topics Canada and Germany are dealing with side by side right now at the global level:

Both Germany and Canada have a strong interest in nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. As countries that do not possess nuclear weapons we want to contribute to strengthening the international regime against the proliferation of nuclear weapons while making nuclear technology available for peaceful uses. I am therefore pleased that the Canadian G8 Presidency has made non-proliferation a priority issue at our meeting of G8 Foreign Ministers today and tomorrow.

A related and very important issue at the G8 meeting will be the nuclear dispute with Iran. We are very concerned about Iran's unwillingness and inability to prove the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme. I would like to underline that we are not against Iran using nuclear power for the peaceful production of energy. We have offered a generous package of assistance in exchange for assurances. But the Iranian leadership should understand that we cannot and will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran. It would constitute a major threat to regional stability but it would also undermine the global non-proliferation regime. Our hand to Iran remains outstretched. But in the absence of a response and real progress the international community has to prepare stronger sanctions against Iran. We will discuss the situation and the way forward at our meeting tomorrow.

Canada and Germany are long term partners, on the bilateral and the global level.

We may be on two different continents but on the major challenges of our time we stand as one.

Over the last century our relations have been deepened, improved and strengthened. I am very optimistic that we will continue in that direction in the future. Not only because our governments agree upon many topics, but because of the deep friendship between our peoples.

Thank you very much.

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