On Mai 29th Foreign Minister Westerwelle delivered the following speech at the German University of Technology in Muscat (Oman)
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Ladies and Gentlemen
I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak to you today here at the German University of Technology in Oman.
This university is a flagship of German-Omani cooperation. GU-tech works closely together with one of Germany's leading institutions in higher education, the Technical University of Aachen. This cooperation stands for first-rate teaching and research. The four Bachelor of Science programmes at GU-tech are internationally accredited. It is the first university in Oman with this status.
With a strong focus on applied studies for example in the areas of Geo-Sciences, Urban Planning and Information Technology GU-tech offers students a world-class education here in Muscat. GU-tech graduates will hold an internationally recognized qualification. They can continue their studies in Germany or anywhere in the world.
Oman's development in the education sector is an outstanding success story. Ever since the accession to the throne of His Majesty Sultan Qabous, Oman has focused on education. In the United Nation's Human Development Report, Oman has been highlighted as the best of the “Top 10 Movers”. Oman is the country that improved most over the past 40 years. That is not just a figure. That means better chances for a better life in a better future for many, many people. We are impressed by the remarkable progress made in Oman. We are impressed by the determination of Omanis to achieve a better future. Germany clearly wants to contribute to this beneficial development, in a spirit of mutual partnership.
Germany is well known for its excellence in higher education, particularly in the field of engineering. Germany-Oman cooperation in the field of education has a great potential. Our cooperation manifests itself not only in GU-tech. We aim to strengthen our education partnership in several ways. We want to intensify the exchange of students and academics, to expand the opportunities for Omanis to learn German as a foreign language and to share our knowledge in the field of vocational training.
Such a partnership not only strengthens our bilateral relations. Significant investments in human resources are the fastest path into a better future. Oman, which has invested large parts of its energy earnings in education, public health and infrastructure can be seen as an example for the whole region.
Education is more than just a means to an end. For you, your university education is the best investment in your future. You will look beyond the boundaries of specific subjects and find a compass for the rest of your life. Education is the key to tolerant societies, all around the world. Education counters prejudice; education is potent against discrimination; education promotes equality and respect. Education guarantees that every individual gets the best possible start, to fulfil its own potential and to define its place in the world.
In today's world, knowledge is the key resource. In the long term, nothing is more crucial to our countries' position than our education system. It’s no longer natural resources that determine a nation’s prosperity, but the competition of ideas. And everyone benefits from the competition for the best ideas.
Germany is a country with only few natural resources. Our economic performance does not rely on geographical good fortune. Investing in education – at home and abroad – is one of the top priorities of Germany's government.
A quarter of the German Federal Foreign Office’s budget is spent on cultural relations and education policy. From partner schools to the Goethe-Institute to the German Academic Exchange Service, cultural relations and education policy promotes understanding and cooperation.
Cultural and educational programmes tailored to the needs of people in our partner countries help to create a broad basis for stable relations. Promoting education is not a sole responsibility of states and governments. It cannot be successful without the involvement of non-governmental initiatives, be it charitable foundations, private enterprises or members of the civil society.
Germany and Oman are sharing the same perspective: In the era of globalization access to education determines whether countries succeed or fail. A high level of education, and a well diversified economy are the cornerstones for inner stability, economic success and innovation.
Globalization is nothing abstract. We all live in the era of globalization. It is our shared reality – Oman's reality, Germany's reality, the global reality.
Globalization means that geographical distance is losing significance. Things that happen far away can influence our everyday lifes. Businesses must measure up against competitors from other continents. There is a global competition for production and investment locations.
International trade and exchange in itself is nothing new. What is new is the speed at which changes are occurring. New technologies, economic and political liberalization have made possible a rapid global exchange of goods and services, of information and ideas.
Globalization is not only about the globalization of markets, but also about the globalization of values: democracy, rule of law and liberty. That is what we are seeing at the moment for example in North Africa. These developments represent a historic turning point.
The region’s influence in global politics will grow. New potential for close cooperation with Europe is emerging. Unfortunately the great hope with which I look to the region is also tinged with great concern.
Germany shares with Oman great concern about the developments in Oman's neighbour state Yemen. There is a high risk that the ongoing violence can quickly escalate into a civil war with many civilian victims. We welcome the tremendous efforts of Oman and the other Gulf Cooperation Countries to mediate in Yemen for a swift and peaceful transfer of power.
Germany intends to support all governments that are pursuing a path of democratic transformation. We have heard the call for freedom. We stand on the side of those who seek democracy.
Freedom, democracy and the rule of law are the prime principles that guide our policies. We are convinced that these values are universal.
But we are also aware that there is a distinction between universal values and uniformity. Many countries around the world are today experiencing great changes in their societies. The final destination for all states should be freedom, democracy and the rule of law, even if the ways leading there are many and diverse. The path will be easier for some, and more difficult for others. Each country is different. Each country has its own history.
Each country must respect all others.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
when I was almost thirty, I witnessed the upheavals in Central and Eastern Europe. We Germans were fortunate to experience peaceful change in our own country, restoring German unity and bringing Europe together again. Looking back, people often speak of the “fall of the Berlin Wall”. The Wall did not fall. It was torn down by the people in their determination to live in freedom. The people wanted to live in a free and democratic society that respected their dignity.
Freedom is not in contrast to stability. Free societies that embrace their diversity are even more stable than societies that are not free, but rigidly maintain an enforced uniformity. Instability and chaos are not the consequence of freedom, but the result of oppression and stagnation.
Oman has carefully chosen dialogue as its own way forward. We encourage the ongoing move towards greater freedom of press and to an increasing participation of the Omani citizens in the reform process.
Political reform must go hand in hand with economic development. Prosperity is only possible in a secure and stable environment. Oman rightly fosters good relations with all its neighbors. We share Oman's interest in creating peace and stability in the region and within the Arab world.
in former times countries could cooperate. Today, in the era of Globalisation countries must cooperate. No single country can meet the challenges of our time just on its own. No single country can protect the climate or the oceans on its own. Other issues like raw materials, food prices, access to water and protection against epidemics are on our international agenda today.
Let me highlight Omani-German cooperation in a crucial sector: Energy. In the last forty years, Oman has succeeded in building up its electricity infrastructure basically from scratch. Today, power supply is guaranteed in almost all parts of the country. But challenges remain: Fossil resources are diminishing, and in the same time industrial and consumer needs are growing. This requires exploration and investment in new sources of energy to safeguard the achieved standard of living.
Within the next ten years, the energy demand in Oman is expected to double. Power generation capacity has to be expanded massively. Modern technology and knowledge transfer will play an important role. Germany is delighted to be part of the expansion and modernization of Oman's energy sector, most notably with the participation in the construction of two gas power plants – Barka 3 and Sohar 2.
Oman has a huge potential for renewable energy, particularly solar power. Solar energy plants could cover the entire electricity needs of Oman. We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge with Oman and to co-operating closer in the fields of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Therefore, I am pleased that the Joint German-Omani Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, has agreed to further promote investment opportunities, in the fields of renewable energy.
we need more bilateral cooperation as well as international cooperation and effective multilateralism. Germany is committed to a rules-based, stabilizing global order. We support the strengthening of international law. Multilateralism is the way, peace and prosperity are the goals. A world of shared norms and cooperation in a spirit of partnership is the best basis for development, security, prosperity and peace.
We see Oman as our partner. We look back on almost 40 years of close, friendly and constructive German-Omani relations. We hope to intensify our good relations in the future, diplomatically as well as economically. One of the outstanding cooperation projects we can build on is the German University of Technology in Oman.
Oman is a modern, stable and economically sustainable country with good infrastructure and a well established education sector. Continued investments in the future generations will be the best way to ensure economic growth and stability.
In turn, you, the students, the younger generation, will determine the future of your country.
Thank you for your attention.