Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on the occasion of the opening of the German Science and Innovation Forum in São Paulo on 14 February 2012

14.02.2012 - Speech

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Professor Glaucius Olivia,
Professor Wintermantel,
Mr Porto,
Mr Wansleben,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me say how delighted I am to welcome so many of you here today at Club Transatlantico. The view of transatlantic relations in Germany is often limited to our North Atlantic partners. I firmly believe that Latin America has been underestimated politically in Germany and Central Europe.

And yet Latin America and Europe are natural allies. We’re strategic partners in a globalized world. Our partnership is based on a solid foundation: on shared values and close cultural ties. We share the same idea of freedom and the dignity of the individual, of democracy, the rule of law and the social market economy, of multilateralism and the application of international law. Despite the thousands of kilometres which separate us, Latin America and Europe are very close.

With its impressive economic growth, Latin America has also gained greater capacity for action and more self-confidence in the political sphere. We welcome this development and see Latin America’s rise as a great opportunity. We see it as an opportunity for more cooperation. For no state and no region can master the global challenges on their own. We can only shape globalization if we have strong partners at our side.

The German Government has set itself the goal of taking relations between Germanyand the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to a new level. That was a strategic decision. We want to make even better use of the great potential offered by our cooperation. That applies bilaterally to our mutual benefit. That applies multilaterally in shared responsibility.

Relations between Germanyand Brazil are of outstanding importance in this respect. They are more comprehensive and diverse than relations with any other country in Latin America. I’m pleased that together we’ve been able to develop a new momentum in our relations during recent years: we’re expanding our cooperation in the economic, political and cultural spheres and, not least, in the field of science and research.

Education, vocational training and research are the most important resources in the age of globalization. A country’s success in a globalized world depends on whether it ensures access to good education for everyone and not on whether it happens to have mineral resources. Cooperation in the spheres of education, vocational training, science and research always reflect the desire to shape the future together.

Globalization also requires new thinking from scientists. Above all, it requires highly qualified scientists and researchers to form international networks. As a country with few raw materials, we in Germany are dependent on our ability to innovate and on our international links in order to secure our prosperity on an enduring basis.

To this end, the German Government has developed its own High-Tech Strategy Action Plan and its Strategy for the Internationalization of Science and Research.

The Brazilian Government has initiated similar measures. By 2014, 100,000 students are to be sent to the best universities in the world. I’m pleased that Germanyis cooperating with Brazil to enable more than 10,000 of these students to come to Germanyas part of the Science without Borders mobility programme launched in autumn 2011. They will be more than welcome.

Brazil is Germany’s most important partner in Latin America for cooperation on education and research. With more than 100 events, workshops and exhibitions, the 2010/2011 German-Brazilian Year of Science has injected new momentum into our relations in the scientific field. Today’s opening of the German Science and Innovation Forum in São Paulo is a tangible expression of this momentum. Such a project year is not a one‑off flash in the pan but, rather, provides key impetus for a long-term and lasting partnership in education, vocational training, science and research.

Research and academic relations policy has become one of the central pillars of Germany’s foreign policy. Among the measures initiated, the German Science and Innovation Fora stand out as institutions which foster modern networks among science, business and politics. In addition to São Paulo, fora have already been established in New York and Tokyo. Others are being set up in Moscow, New Delhi and Cairo.

The pulsating metropolis São Paulo is the ideal location for our Science and Innovation Forum in Brazil. São Paulo is a city of science and research. Some 12,000 young people gain a doctorate here every year. São Paulo is a city of innovation. 13% of the revenue of São Paulostate is spent on education, research and development. And São Paulo is a city with substantial ties to German business. It’s home to the largest number of research-based German companies outside Germany.

As a collective platform for German institutions in the technology field, the Forum in São Paolo promotes Germanyas a location for research and innovation. Brazilian scientists with professional interest in Germanyreceive advice there. The Forum promotes contacts with Brazilian partners, as well as the development of networks. It embodies the link between research, science and research-based business and fosters German-Brazilian relations.

German companies and their Brazilian subsidiaries already account for around 10% of industrial production in Brazil. Bilateral trade increased further to 25 billion euro in 2011 and German direct investments, which total 26 billion euro, are also high. I’m confident that the Forum will pave the way for many future joint projects and investments.

I’d like to thank the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Association of Chambers of Industry and Commerce, as well as the member institutions of the Alliance of Scientific Organizations in Germany with which we’re cooperating closely on the fora.

I’d like to wish the German Science and Innovation Forum in São Paulo, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Chamber of Commerce in São Paulo and all the funding organizations, research institutions and universities represented in the Forum every success and good luck with their important work.

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