-- Translation of advance text --
Monsieur le Premier ministre,
Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to be celebrating the Day of German Unity with you here in Paris.
It was at midnight on 3 October 1990 that the German people achieved unity in free self‑determination.
Germany and Europe had put division behind us, and this moment set the seal on that.
Without France’s trust, this finest hour of German history would never have happened. We cannot forget the words of François Mitterrand when he called German unity a historical imperative and pledged that France stood by Germany in our pursuit of that goal.
German unity and European unification are indivisible parts of a whole. The preamble of our Basic Law affirms that idea; it is part of what makes us who we are.
This Europe is the answer to what has gone wrong during our history. Now more than ever, it is a project to shape our future.
In 1990, we were still concerned with overcoming the division of Europe. Today, we are united in facing the challenge, the historic opportunity, of achieving complete union and boosting confidence in Europe. Or as you, Prime Minister, said in the Assemblée Nationale yesterday, we need to create a Europe of confidence. Europe is our shared future in this age of globalization. You said that without Europe, France would be isolated and weak. That is true for France – and I would add that it is just as true for Germany.
Germany and France are countering the debt crisis with a policy of consolidation, growth and solidarity.
But our thinking on Europe has to extend beyond the crisis.
Together with France, we want to eliminate the euro’s structural flaws and complement our monetary union with closer cooperation on economic, financial and fiscal policy.
When we transfer new responsibilities to the European level, there also has to be greater democratic legitimacy – or as you put it in the Assemblée Nationale yesterday, the people need to be on board.
When it comes to constructing the Europe of tomorrow, we Germans see France as our indispensable partner. We bear a great joint responsibility for the European project.
We have a real friendship and a special relationship of mutual trust at our backs in that endeavour.
The other anniversary we are celebrating at the moment is a reminder of that relationship. Fifty years ago, Charles de Gaulle concluded a speech to the young people of Germany by saying, “The future of our two countries, and the cornerstone of European unity, lies in the mutual respect, trust and friendship that exist between the French and German nations.”
As we shape Europe’s future in concert with our European neighbours, the German and French people of today are still driven by the same spirit, couched in conviction as well as reason.
Mesdames et Messieurs, Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer established new confidence in Europe. Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand put an end to the division of our continent. Our generation has these great moments of history to inspire us to complete the European project. C’est notre rendez‑vous avec l’histoire. Vive l’amitié franco‑allemande, vive notre Europe! This is our rendezvous with history. Long live our Franco‑German friendship, and long live our Europe!