Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the German‑Hungarian Forum

09.11.2012 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text –

János Martonyi,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Watershed moments are rare in world politics. The fall of the Berlin Wall 23 years ago today was such a moment. That momentous event cleared the way for an end to the division of Germany. It was a breakthrough for freedom for all of Europe.

It is in part thanks to our Hungarian friends that the events of 9 November 1989 were possible. They cut the first hole in the Iron Curtain near Sopron. We Germans will not forget this.

In 1989 Hungarians and Germans stood side by side to overcome the division of Europe. This should be an encouragement to us to now complete European integration together.

When we do so we are building on a firm foundation. We signed the German‑Hungarian friendship treaty 20 years ago, committing to a united Europe where human rights, democracy and the rule of law prevail.

Ever since then, Hungary and Germany have been close partners in Europe. This is a partnership with a future. We can see that in the more than 400,000 Hungarian pupils who are learning German.

We can see it in the more than 400 exchange programmes between our universities. We want to keep building this bridge to the future. That’s why it’s so good that our fledgling German‑Hungarian Forum has met for the second time today.

Hungary and Germany are also partners for Europe. In times of crisis we must stand together against those who disparage the project of Europe.

Europe is worth it. It has brought us more peace, freedom and prosperity than we have ever known before. Before 1989 we could only have dreamed of this kind of united Europe.

Europe is our answer to globalization. By standing together we are able to assert ourselves and our European way of life, an achievement that no single country could manage alone.

So let’s work together for Europe.

For a stable monetary union.

For a strong community of shared values.

And for a powerful economy.

We’re working as hard as we can to overcome the debt crisis.

We want more Europe. And we want a better Europe.

We are tackling the roots of the crisis. Through the fiscal compact, the permanent stability mechanism and the growth pact, we are laying the groundwork for new trust.

This three‑part harmony of solidity, solidarity and growth is beginning to reverberate. The euro is as strong against the dollar as it was before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. We have yet to fully overcome the crisis. But when we look back we will be able to say that the turnaround came in autumn 2012.

To make sure this change of direction is lasting, we now want to make the euro fit to weather any future crises. We’re tackling the work that was not yet possible when we founded the monetary union. We’re completing it by cooperating more closely on financial, fiscal and economic policy.

That is the leap we need to take into a new quality of European integration. We want to take this major step together with the people of Europe. When we entrust more responsibilities to Brussels, the European public should have a say in the matter. Only a Europe with full democratic legitimacy stands on solid ground.

This is the way Europe will emerge strengthened from this crisis. Someday a political union will stand at the end of this path.

Everyone is now invited to join forces in building the Europe of the future. I am truly counting on Hungary to tread this path along with us. However, should some feel initially unable or unwilling to travel this road, that cannot prevent others from going ahead.

The doors remain wide open. Now, 23 years after the fall of the Wall, we cannot be interested in dividing Europe anew. Our gaze is firmly fixed on European unity.

This unity shouldn’t be taken for granted. The debt crisis unleashed previously unimagined centrifugal forces. Trust in the European idea has become fragile. Many Europeans feel less of a common bond with one another.

This makes it all the more important for us to work together to preserve and protect the things that unite us:

respect for freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, and protection of human rights. Together we have anchored these values in the European treaties. They must also shape everyday life in Europe.

Our community of shared values is the indispensable foundation of our coexistence. It is the innermost bond holding Europe together.

A strong Europe also needs a powerful economy.

It is this idea that gives rise to our desire to focus even more on growth in future European Union budgets. We advocate a free trade agreement with the US and other strategic partners. And we want to take full advantage of the opportunities for growth which the European internal market offers.

This market benefits all of us tremendously. The interlinking of the Hungarian and German economies is the perfect example of this. The volume of our trade has quadrupled in the past 15 years.

Today some 8,000 German companies are present in Hungary. That means nearly 300,000 jobs.

We want to continue the European success story. In business, just as in politics, there is no future in withdrawing into nationalism. The future lies in cooperation.

German unity and European unification are indivisible. That is what the 9th of November stands for.

The preamble of our Basic Law affirms this idea; it is part of what makes us who we are.

That is why we will devote not only our minds but also our hearts to working for a strong and united Europe. As we do so we are counting on our Hungarian friends – now as in 1989.

Europe is the lesson we learn from our common history. Europe is our common future.

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