Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s article appeared in the B. Z. and the Bonner Generalanzeiger newspapers on 21 March 2012.
Hans‑Dietrich Genscher is rightly considered one of the architects of German unity, alongside Helmut Kohl. Reunification was the masterpiece of his diplomatic career. During the Cold War, he provided the impetus for the famous Helsinki Final Act, thus making a major contribution to the process of détente in Europe. For Hans‑Dietrich Genscher, German foreign policy means one thing above all and at all times: the pursuit of peace. His stance on that has shaped German foreign policy for decades and continues to do so.
The fact that our partners in Europe and around the world looked on the reunified Germany not in fear but in friendship and confidence can be put down, at least in part, to Hans‑Dietrich Genscher’s reliable policy-making.
He always regarded Germany’s reunification as the beginning of Europe’s reunification, and what he did reflected that belief. He was deeply committed to integrating Poland as well as our Central and Eastern European neighbours into European structures.
Hans‑Dietrich Genscher is a great statesman as well as a warm-hearted human being and an unfailing source of valuable advice. The people on whose behalf he engages in politics have always been his main priority. He listens to them and takes them seriously. That is what strikes you about him.
He has been a key role model for me since I was quite a young politician. To this day, I trust to the wisdom of his advice and greatly appreciate his giving it. When he speaks, Europe listens – just as it always did. What he says has clout, in the FDP, in Germany and on the global stage.
On his birthday, I wish Hans‑Dietrich Genscher all the very best, and good health above all. I hope that Germany will be able to rely on his advice and support for many more years to come.