Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the presentation of the German-Polish Prize in Warsaw on 10 May 2013

10.05.2013 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Minister Bartoszewski,
My dear Radek Sikorski,
Mrs Lempp,

The Lempp family,
Mr Pawłoś,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me first of all congratulate the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation on today’s prize.

With the German-Polish Prize, we are also honouring Dr Albrecht Lempp who departed from us much too early last November.

It is a great honour for me to award this so important prize posthumously to such a worthy recipient.

At the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation in 2011, I had the opportunity to meet Albrecht Lempp. At that time we looked back together at twenty years in which Polish-German relations had developed so well.

We shouldn’t take this for granted. In Polish-German relations, trust was for a long time hard to come by. Trust is a most precious thing. Both between people and between countries. It takes time to build mutual trust. And we need people like Albrecht Lempp who are tireless in their efforts to foster such trust.

Today we can look back on a long and successful journey of reconciliation between Germany and Poland. Today, there are close links between the two countries right across politics and society. There are close bonds of friendship between our people. Our countries are part of a united, democratic Europe. Europe is more than a single market. Europe is more than a currency. Europe is a community with a common destiny and shared culture.

Europe is the answer to the darkest chapter of Germany’s past. It is the most successful peace project of all time.

Europe is not just western Europe. That is something I learnt early on.

It was visionary statesmen who paved the way for European unification. But the affinity between Germans and Poles today is also the fruit of many private initiatives across society.

The German-Polish friendship is driven by personalities for whose example and honest, tireless efforts we have good reason to be thankful.

Albrecht Lempp was one of them. In the German Poland Institute, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, as the German director of the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation or as a translator, to name only a few staging posts, he proved he had the courage to work to achieve visionary goals. He pursued these goals with passion, perseverance and pragmatism.

He enabled us Germans to better understand Polish culture. By earning trust in himself in Poland, he also built trust in Germany. Albrecht Lempp did sterling work to bolster German-Polish relations.

Poland is a dynamic country with a strong economy and rich culture. Just as Europe benefits from Poland, Poland gains much from membership of the EU. We are pleased the opinion polls in Poland reflect this.

They regularly show the high approval ratings the European Union enjoys. Particularly at a time when some are all to happy to heap criticism on Europe, we should keep our eyes open for such good news.

Europe’s appeal continues unabated. The work to promote fundamental European values does not stop at our borders. It also includes dialogue with our neighbours. One of the last projects Albrecht Lempp worked on brought young journalists from Poland and Russia together with Russian colleagues in Moscow.

In constellations such as these, German-Polish reconciliation can serve as a model.

Poland and Germany are both relatively big within the European Union. In the world, both our countries are relatively small. The same holds true for the other member states. Only together as Europeans will we be able to stand up for our values and our lifestyle in our changing world. Europe is not just our response to the past, it is also our shared response to globalization.

Thank you.

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