“Our unity is our life insurance.”
I’ve heard this sentence very often in the past one and a half years – from Foreign Ministers, but also from the European business community and civil society, as well as from citizens in Germany and across Europe.
For me, this sentence is one of the big lessons from Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
After all, it was our unity that meant that we’ve stood firmly by the side of the people in Ukraine from day one.
And it’s our unity that guarantees a life in freedom for the people in our countries.
This is why we’ve taken our cooperation to a new level in the Baltic Sea region in recent months.
Because the Baltic Sea is a natural treasure at the heart of Europe that we share in.
We want to preserve this treasure and use it still more effectively in the future.
Together, we’re seeking to make the region a powerhouse for clean energy.
By 2030, we want to install seven times as many offshore wind farms in the Baltic Sea as there are now.
In so doing, we want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels as this not only benefits the climate but also makes people’s lives in our countries more secure.
At the same time, we want to do more to preserve the Baltic Sea as a natural resource for millions of people.
The seabed of the Baltic Sea is littered with so many tonnes of munition from past wars that you could load 11,000 lorries with it.
This munition is a ticking time bomb as it is rotting away and releasing dangerous substances that can end up on our plates – in mussels, fish and other marine creatures.
We have therefore launched an initiative for locating and recovering it.
I’m very grateful to the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference for putting this issue on the agenda time and again.
After all, we need the support and expertise of all parts of our societies – from the worlds of politics, business and science.
But, first and foremost, we need dialogue beyond borders in order to drive forward such projects together.
And this is precisely the spirit of the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.
This forum isn’t about having all the answers, but about listening and discussing very tangible solutions – in other words, it’s about doing things better together.
And so I’m delighted that you’re all gathering together in Berlin today.
In so doing, you’re also working to promote something that has been a guarantor of our security for decades:
unity between people in our societies across the Baltic Sea region.
This unity is our life insurance.
Thank you very much.