Speech by Foreign Minister Westerwelle at the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair on 9 October 2013 in Frankfurt am Main

08.10.2013 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Vice President Temer,
Minister Suplicy,
Minister President,
Mayor Feldmann,
Professor Hannefelder,
Mr Boos,

I am delighted to be taking part in the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair again this year.

I would like to congratulate the organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair on two strategic decisions.

Firstly, I would like to thank them for their decision to shine a spotlight on children’s and young adult media at this year’s fair.

We all remember our first favourite book. We read it more than once. Those who get to know and love the world of literature as a child are unwilling to do without it later on in life. The decision to focus on children’s and young adult media shows great foresight.

I would also like to commend a second choice, namely to once again invite Brazil to the Frankfurt Book Fair as Guest of Honour, having done so in 1994.

I would like to warmly welcome Vice President Michel Elias Temer and Minister of Culture Marta Suplicy to Frankfurt.

You don’t have to be a fortune teller to see that interest in Brazil will continue to grow at an astonishing pace in the next few years.

This year’s presentation at the Frankfurt Book Fair will be followed by the FIFA World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and finally the Olympic Games in 2016.

These sporting events offer an important opportunity to showcase Brazil to the world at large. By the same token from our own experience we are familiar with the challenges that this entails. Thus politicians are called upon to provide credible solutions and ensure that the population are brought along on this ambitious journey.

Speaking in purely geographical terms, Brazil and Germany lie far apart. Yet in terms of values our two countries are close.

A commitment to the rule of law, democracy and human rights as well as the pursuit of a world order based on multilateralism are common cornerstones of our policies. This unites us.

Upgrading relations with Latin America is an aim which, with the Latin America Strategy, the outgoing Federal Government formulated right at the beginning of its time in office. We have made good progress.

Relations between Brazil and Germany are of outstanding importance in this respect. They are extensive and multifaceted.

German Brazilian relations are built on a common basis of shared values and wide ranging historical and cultural ties.

Just think of Thomas Mann. Brazil played its part in the worldwide success of the great writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work Buddenbrooks.

His mother, Julia Bruhns da Silva, was Brazilian and came from the small port town of Paraty, south of Rio. Thomas Mann created a permanent tribute to her with Gerda Buddenbrook, née Arnoldsen.

Brazil itself has produced world class authors – writers such as Jorge Amado, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Clarice Lispector are fine examples. And Paulo Coelho is one of the best selling authors of all Latin America.

Brazil is a cultural heavyweight and for some time now Brazil has also been a global economic and political heavyweight.

Germany and Brazil have enjoyed relations with one another for over 140 years. Nearly 25% of people in Brazil are younger than 15 years old.

Germany has always regarded Brazil’s advent as a global player with great respect and also with great joy. With Brazil’s rise come more opportunities for German Brazilian cooperation.

Today, German companies are already an important pillar of the Brazilian economy. They account for approximately 10-12% of industry share of GDP and employ some 250,000 people in the country. The largest German business community outside Europe is based in São Paulo.

Brazil and Germany work well together, for our mutual benefit and in acknowledgement of the global responsibilities we share. Our countries are pulling in the same direction with regard to reform of the United Nations.

Nonetheless our bilateral relations offer yet more potential which should be exploited.

Germany has been showcasing itself in Brazil since May 2013. The motto of our Germany Year is “Germany and Brazil – where ideas come together”. We want to further awaken interest in one another and to forge ahead with new joint projects.

Brazil and Germany are both faced with great challenges. Globalisation and digitalisation are developments of great significance for knowledge based economies.

Brazilians spend around 27 hours a month online – more than any other Latin American nation. Brazil is a global frontrunner when it comes to the number of Facebook users.

Together with Brazil, Germany promotes an Internet which is open and free whilst also secure.

The Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff made her position on this clear two weeks ago at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Thus just as we must regulate international financial flows in order to prevent global crises, we also need binding standards and regulations for global data flows. Not everything that technology allows us to do should be done. And neither is everything that technology allows us to do legitimate.

Maintaining a sensible balance between freedom and security online and ensuring protection of intellectual property in times of globalisation and digitalisation are tasks which no country can accomplish alone.

We need to join forces with like minded partners if our values and interests are to have a voice on the world stage. Brazil is a natural partner to Germany in our efforts to help shape globalisation.

I wish you all an exciting literary journey to Brazil and through the wider world of books. May this book fair be a resounding success with many stimulating discussions and interesting new encounters for us all.

Thank you very much.

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