Presentation of the Peace of Westphalia Prize to Daniel Barenboim and the young musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra in Münster on 30 October 2010

30.10.2010 - Speech

-- Translation of advanced text --

Daniel Barenboim,
Musicians of the “West-Eastern Divan-Orchestra”,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you all to Münster today. Münster is not just a lively university city. It is not just an economically flourishing city. Münster is a city of peace.

In 1648 the Peace of Westphalia brought to an end decades of war and destruction in Germany and Europe. For the first time in Europe’s history, peace was attained through negotiation. The cities of Münster and Osnabrück stand for peace and reconciliation.

The Peace of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War. But, as we all know, that was by no means the last war on our continent.

In Münster, as in many other European cities, the effects of the confrontation which for decades divided our continent and caused people immeasurable suffering are still clearly visible.

One of the historic achievements of those who held positions of responsibility before us is the fact that we in Europe have been able to place the model of confrontation with the model of cooperation. Cooperation can be difficult. It requires a great deal of patience and strong nerves – as I can tell you from my own experience after a few marathon sessions in Brussels. But anyone familiar with the consequences of confrontation knows that cooperation is worth any amount of effort.

Today some people talk quite nonchalantly about Europe. But it is my belief that we cannot appreciate Europe highly enough; Europe is a great peace and freedom project. Even if Europe had given us nothing more than decades of peace, it would still have been worth it.

We Europeans cannot prescribe to anyone else in the world how to find peace. But one thing we can do: by putting the model of European cooperation into practice in our daily lives we can show that it works. Cooperation rather than confrontation – that is the lesson we learn from our own history.

Daniel Barenboim,

I have today the particular privilege to honour you as a world-famous artist, as an outstanding pianist and conductor, as a true citizen of the world and as someone who is wholeheartedly committed to cooperation.

Along with the late Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said, you established the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

An orchestra is by its very nature an expression of the concept of cooperation. In an orchestra no one instrument is more or less important than the others. Every instrument is unique. The first violin differs from the second violin merely in its tone colour. Only when every tone is heard can the orchestra produce its best sound.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra embodies the idea of cooperation in another very special way too: under your direction, highly-gifted young musicians from Jordan and Syria, from Lebanon and Egypt, from Israel and Palestine, together play the works of great composers. Truly, the orchestra is an ensemble without boundaries.

Under your leadership, young people whose parents cannot be reconciled across borders join together to make music. With the help of music they try to overcome this silence.

You yourself have described the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as an “independent republic”. This independent republic brings together people who would probably never have met otherwise. Young people from different states and cultures learn from each other, hearing viewpoints with which they had previously had no contact. This can be painful, if it casts doubt on one’s own previous perceptions. It can also be a relief when one suddenly discovers unexpected similarities. It certainly increases understanding of each other, even if afterwards one has to agree to disagree. This mutual understanding is the basis for compromise. And compromise is the basis for peace.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra lives out the ideal of a peaceful society of coexistence characterized by mutual respect and tolerance.

Daniel Barenboim,

You are being presented today with the Peace of Westphalia Prize in recognition of your endeavours both as an artist and as a citizen to bring about reconciliation in the Middle East. You are being honoured because you and your orchestra overcome divisions and establish common ground. You are receiving this award today because you are a peace activist in the best sense of the word:

You are active for peace, even if, in the eleven years of the orchestra’s existence, you have often been criticized and met with hostility from many sides. For some people the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra breaks a taboo.

Let me just recall your orchestra’s legendary concert in Ramallah in 2005. It was, for obvious reasons, a bold move at the time. In the run-up to the concert, Spain and Germany enjoyed exemplary cooperation. I cannot and don’t wish to go into details here today. I’ll just say this: with a great deal of imagination, with courage, determination and passion, the concert did go ahead in the end, under heavy security.

For us and for many others in the world, your orchestra is a sensation.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra attracts fans not only because of the music, but because it embodies on a small scale what we long for on a large scale: peace in the Middle East.

In a few days I will be setting off on my third visit to the Middle East. We should not delude ourselves that we have the key to a peaceful solution in our hands. But we want to do all we can to foster and strengthen the fragile process towards a two-state solution.

We hold Israel’s security to be non-negotiable. Only a solution which guarantees Israel an existence within secure borders and at the same time ensures the establishment of a viable Palestinian state can bring lasting peace.

That’s why the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must be continued. There is no sensible alternative. Unilateral steps don’t bring us any closer to a lasting peace settlement. This can only be achieved if both sides make concessions and compromises. I am not underestimating the challenges. But I very much hope that all involved will have the farsightedness and courage to take the necessary steps. Germany has a responsibility to support this process to the utmost.

Let me give you a concrete example: alongside the negotiations, the two-state solution needs a second pillar, namely the development of functioning state structures in the Palestinian territories. Supporting this is a particular priority for Germany. That’s why, in May, we were the first country in Europe to set up a German-Palestinian Steering Committee at ministerial level. The Committee held its second meeting in Ramallah a couple of days ago, on 28 October. The bilateral Steering Committee shows that we are serious in our support for future Palestinian statehood.I am pleased that several European partners are now following our example.

Nobody should mistake our dogged endeavours towards peace in the Middle East for a lack of realism. Our possibilities are limited. But we can provide support. The most important prerequisite for ending violence remains the yearning for peace and readiness for reconciliation of the people themselves.

Daniel Barenboim, you once said that music, while producing rapprochements and friendships which would otherwise be inconceivable, cannot solve the problems of the Middle East.

That may be a realistic assessment. With your work, however, you are sending a signal of reconciliation and giving wings to the desire for peace of all those who have the pleasure of hearing the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. That isa contribution to the peace process in the Middle East.

For peace is inconceivable without the involvement of the people. Often it is the commitment of civil society which succeeds in building the first bridges, which creates a feeling of closeness, which makes peace possible at all. Reconciliation between governments must be accompanied by reconciliation between peoples. Otherwise there can be no lasting peace.

Dear musicians of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, dear Daniel Barenboim,

Today you are receiving the Peace of Westphalia Prize in recognition of your work to promote mutual understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. You are helping to smooth the way for a just and peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to peace in the Middle East.

Your commitment, however, has an impact outside the region too. Mutual understanding, respect and tolerance are values which you put into practice and which should determine human interactions all over the world.

Many congratulations!

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