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Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the opening of the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation in Hamburg

07.11.2011 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text! --

Ladies and gentlemen,

Latin America and Germany are linked in a unique way. Culturally, economically, and politically. Latin American has been shaped by the values of the enlightenment, just as we have been.

We share the values of individual freedom, rule of law, and human rights. Common values form the solid foundation of the relations between Latin America and Europe.

Everyone who has experienced first hand Latin America’s pioneering mood, its great dynamic energy, and the closeness felt there for Europe understands what opportunities and potential Europe and Germany can find there.

The European Union is Latin America’s largest investor and the region’s second largest trading partner. The economic development of the one has immediate effects on the prosperity of the other.

With its positive economic development, Latin America has also gained greater capacity for action and more self-confidence in the area of foreign policy. We welcome this development. We see the emergence of new centres of power as an opportunity to meet the challenges of globalization together. No country can solve the urgent problems of our time on its own. This is true when it comes to climate change and energy security and just as true when it comes to dealing with migration and combating terrorism.

Anyone who wants to shape globalization needs partners. German foreign policy aims at nurturing old partnerships and establishing new ones. Turning toward new partners of course does not mean turning away from our closest, reliable partners. Just the opposite: only if the strategic partnerships with the new centres of power that are shaping globalization are implemented on a European level can their full benefit be realized.

The European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation embodies this connection in a unique way. If we want to help shape the world, then we must see the world as it is, and not as it used to be.

In today’s world, Latin America and Europe must see each other as equal, strategic partners to a greater extent than they currently do. We are natural partners when it comes to anchoring our common values in tomorrow’s world order.

The European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation will inject new energy into the relations between our two regions. It will be a catalyst for common strategies and joint action and will intensify the partnership between Europe and Latin American on all levels.

Europe does not equal western Europe. Intensifying the cooperation also between our eastern EU member states and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean with the help of the foundation is important to me. There is enormous potential here.

The city of Hamburg is an excellent location for the foundation to do this. For centuries, Hamburg has been the “gateway to the world”. At the same time, Hamburg, as a Hanseatic town, also stands for a united Europe.

I want to thank everyone who participated in this important project for their efforts. Above all, I want to thank the Chilean Presidency and the European External Action Service, who saw the negotiations through the minutia of German foundation law. As a lawyer myself, I must congratulate you on that.

My thanks also go out to the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg for their generous willingness to host the foundation. Its authorities made possible the quick and flexible registration of the EU-LAC Foundation.

Not least, I want to thank Dr Benita Ferrero Waldner, who has assumed the honorary office of President of the Foundation. I look forward to working with you and the Executive Director of the foundation, Ambassador Valdez.

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