Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to the United Nations General Assembly (25.09.10)

25.09.2010 - Speech

--translation of advance text--

Mr President, Mr Secretary-General,Distinguished colleagues,Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to speak to you today.

The world has changed dramatically since the United Nations was founded 65 years ago. International trade and exchange is of course nothing new. What is new is how quickly the changes affect everybody's lives. Only if we in the United Nations are and remain able to act can we shape these global changes.

We will only manage to solve problems relating to security, economic, social and ecological development if the international community stands united.

Germany is ready to assume global responsibility within the framework set by the United Nations. German foreign policy is firmly embedded in the international community.

In Europe, a system of cooperation has replaced the confrontation that cruelly divided our continent for centuries. The European Union is successful because in Europe all peoples and states meet on an equal footing.

The United Nations, too, brings together nations both large and small, rich and poor, those that are more powerful and those with less influence. Cooperation on an equal footing, cooperation between equals, is our guiding principle also for work here at the United Nations.

Each and every country must respect all others.

Mr President,

German foreign policy is peace policy. This autumn, Germany will stand for election as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, because this is an ideal forum in which to cooperate in the cause of peace and development.

Peace is more than the absence of war. In today's globalized world, people are just as vulnerable to the consequences of climate change, poverty and under-development as they are to violence and oppression.

Mr President,

Climate change has a direct impact on each and every one of us. Countless people are already personally feeling its economic and social consequences.

In their letter to the Security Council, the Pacific island states rightly warned us in no uncertain terms just how much climate change threatens everyone's security.

Everybody must play their part to protect the climate. In Germany we have just adopted a forward-looking energy strategy. By the year 2050 80% of our electricity production will come from renewable sources.

Germany has also pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by the year 2020 compared tothe 1990 baseline. Even now, we have reduced our CO2 emissions by almost 30%. We are pioneers in the field of climate protection.

We are helping those who are now worst affected by climate change. We are particularly concerned about the fate of small island states.

Anyone who's serious about combatting climate change has to build on innovation, new technologies and exchange. Both developed and developing nations can profit from cooperation on future energies. Germany will contribute its technological expertise, for example in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency.

In this way we'returning the challenge of climate change into an opportunity for fair development and enhanced cooperation. Climate policy is a cornerstone of any sustainable development policy. The Summit on the Millennium Development Goals laid down the next steps forward in our global partnership for development.

Mr President,

Education is the key to development, development needs education. Education protects people from discrimination and oppression. Education fights prejudices and thereby fosters peace. But education also creates products and markets, education is the path to prosperity.

The true wealth of many nations is no longer found in their raw materials, but in the minds of their people. Education is a human right.

It is because education will determine whether societies succeed or fail in tomorrow's world that Germany is one of the major international partners for learning. By building on education, we are building bridges to the future for the young people of today.

Mr President,

The United Nations itself must also keep up with the pace of change. The world order of today is not properly reflected if Africa and Latin America are not permanently represented on the Security Council. Asia, too, rightly considers itself to be under-represented. The entire continent, not just individual states, is developing at breath-taking speed.

We take our partnerships seriously, both the old and the new.

Germany, too, remains ready to assume greater responsibility.

Mr President,

Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are not issues of the past, but challenges of our time. Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are two sides of the same coin. We have to do all we possibly can to ensure that weapons of mass destruction do not become the bane of globalization.

Unlike the Conference five years ago, this May's Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was a success. If we work together to maintain this momentum, it will be in our power to ensure that this decade does not see a build-up of arms but becomes a decade of disarmament.

A world without nuclear weapons is a long-term vision, but even a marathon begins with the first step.

There is now movement in the disarmament debate. The group of states founded here in New York on Wednesday to advance disarmament and arms control does not stand alone.

For over ten years the Geneva Conference on Disarmament wasn't even able to agree on an agenda.

This is not the way to live up to our shared responsibility. We met yesterday at the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to break the deadlock affecting the Geneva Conference.

Our world will be a more secure place when the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty enters into force and the production of fissile material is ended once and for all.

Mr President,

German peace policy stands for the peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. Germany is doing its utmost to ensure that the direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are a success.

We will continue to strengthen the forces of reason and reconciliation.

During this vital period for the peace process, in particular, I urge both sides to refrain from taking any action which might block the path to peace.

We condemn any form of violence which has the sole aim of torpedoing the peace talks. At the same time we call for the moratorium on settlement construction to be extended.

Lasting peace will only be achieved through a two-state solution, with Israel and a Palestinian state living peacefully side by side within secure borders.

Mr President,

Iran, like every other country, naturally has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. However, the Tehran leadership itself has sown doubt about the civilian nature of its nuclear programme. Iran, by demonstrating openness and transparency, can allay that doubt. Our offer of dialogue still stands. It's now up to Iran to grasp our outstretched hand.

Mr President,

The conference aimed at establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, planned for 2012, is a major opportunity to strengthen peace and security in the region.

Germany is encouraging all countries in the region to take part so that the conference is a success. We are committed to a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East.

Mr President,

Germany is one of the major supporters of a peaceful and secure Afghanistan. As we agreed in London and Kabul, we want to transfer security responsibility for the whole of Afghanistan to the Afghan Government by 2014.

To make progress in this country, for so long ravaged by war and civil strife, effective measures must be taken to prevent the violence. However, military means alone will not bring success. We favour a holistic approach and above all a political solution.

All sides now need the courage and the stamina to engage in reconciliation.

Mr President,

The German Government assists when people anywhere in the world are struck by natural disasters and emergencies.

But a country's conscience is to be found in its citizens' hearts. I'm proud that my fellow Germans donate so generously at times of greatest need.

Humanity and solidarity are global values, humanity and solidarity make no distinction based on skin colour or religious beliefs.

When the tsunami devastated coastlines around the Indian Ocean, when the Haiti earthquake destroyed the work of decades, or just recently, when the horrific floods in Pakistan left havoc in their wake, we Germans shared the victims' pain and helped in the most heartfelt way possible.

We will stand by Pakistan over the coming months and years so that the country has a good economic future.

Mr President,

We are working towards a peaceful order in Sudan, now and after the referendum early next year. We are looking for ways of achieving stable conditions in Yemen and are particularly active in the Friends of Yemen group. We are working hard to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa and bring peace and stability to Somalia.

Reconstruction efforts in devastated regions cannot bring success overnight. Equally, for societies torn by war and civil strife, the route to life in dignity leads via peace and reconciliation.

There can only be true peace when human rights are respected. For us principles such as the rule of law, freedom of opinion and freedom of the press, and respect for inalienable human rights, are essential. The protection of human rights remains a task for all societies.

It is a fundamental tenet of the UN that women determine their own lives and help decide the fate of their countries.

Ethnic or religious minorities are an enrichment.

Tolerance is one of Germany's guiding principles.

Everyone wins in the competition for the best ideas, in a clash of cultures there can only be losers.

Mr President,

United Europe can make a valuable contribution, on our continent and beyond.

Germany is working to ensure that in the future the European Union cooperates even more closely with other regions in Latin America, Africa and Asia, and lives up to its global responsibility.

Germany is the third-largest development cooperation donor. We have practically recovered from the financial and economic crisis and we are on the right track due to our robust economic growth. This strong economy makes Germany a strong global partner.

If all countries, both small and large, work together, we will be able to masterthe pressing challenges of our world.

You can rely on Germany.

Thank you for your attention.

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