Speech by State Secretary Stephan Steinlein at the opening event of the 2016/2017 club year of Welcome to Berlin

20.09.2016 - Speech

President Tone Korssund-Eichinger,
Dear members of Welcome to Berlin,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is now customary for the opening event of Welcome to Berlin to be held here at the Federal Foreign Office. It is always a special pleasure for me welcome you, as the club’s patron.

Berlin is on the move – you will notice this simply by glancing out of the window of the International Club. Just a stone’s throw from the Federal Foreign Office, the new – or, depending on how you look at it, also the old – Berliner Schloss is being built.

Right next to it is the construction site of the Humboldt-Forum. It will provide space for some of the holdings of the Dahlem museums, bringing these works back to the centre of Berlin and giving visitors to its exhibition a specially-designed gateway to the world.

Your club offers a very important gateway, as well – a gateway to Berlin. In a changing world, Welcome to Berlin provides continuity. Your work gives valuable guidance to those who have recently arrived in and are beginning to experience our city.

We all know at a personal level how important it is that the partners and children of diplomatic staff feel comfortable in their new home. That is why it is a great help if an institution is there to accompany those who have newly arrived and help them settle in. This means that the work of Welcome to Berlin – assisting, and serving as a host for, foreign diplomats and their families – is also very much in the interest of the Federal Foreign Office. We have always been more than happy to support the club, and we will continue to do so.

I would like to sincerely thank the club board, which has been in charge since the end of last June: you, dear Ms Korssund-Eichinger, as the club’s President, and you, dear Dr Gundula Beyer-Zouboulis, as Vice President. You are upholding the traditions of this club, making it a highly-respected partner of diplomatic life in the German capital.

However, all of the club’s diverse and challenging activities are fully dependent on the assistance of club volunteers. Nearly 100 active members do an outstanding job of making sure that guests become friends. For that extraordinary dedication, you have my heartfelt thanks.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We always aspire to set an example with our foreign policy. That is exactly what Welcome to Berlin has done! Word of your excellent work has spread to the extent that other European capitals are enquiring about your organisation. Now that is a real compliment on your efforts!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Whether it be as a member of your home country’s foreign service, or as a committed host for Welcome to Berlin – all of you follow current political developments. The coming year will bring many opportunities for discussion: We will need to address the future of the European Union, as well as the many crises in the world. On the domestic front, too, this will be an exciting year: You gained an idea of what lies ahead during yesterday’s local elections in Berlin!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to encourage you to make use of the wide range of activities offered by Welcome to Berlin. By participating in Welcome to Berlin events, you will be immersing yourselves in German society during the time of your stay, and this will help you understand Germany better. At the same time, your experiences, impressions and interests will enrich every event. “A magic dwells in each beginning” – this is true not only during your initial days and weeks here, but remains true each and every single day.

My best wishes for a successful year at Welcome to Berlin – and I wish all diplomats and their families a stimulating time in Berlin.

Thank you very much.

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