Foreign minister Heiko Maas on Europe Day (May 9):
European unity is a gift – especially for us Germans. We’re particularly aware of this when we commemorate the end of the Second World War 75 years ago. On 8 May 1945, Europe – and that included us – was liberated from National Socialism. A bloody war with an unimaginable number of victims and unthinkable annihilation finally came to an end. What we have built together in Europe since that time is unique to the world. We are proud of this achievement, which can also be a source of encouragement in the current crisis.
Our Europe – united in solidarity in diversity – is being challenged as never before perhaps since the end of the Second World War. We’re grappling together with the deadly coronavirus and its impact. Images from particularly hard-hit regions have moved us deeply throughout Europe. We owe a debt of gratitude especially to everyone caring for the sick and the elderly, battling to save each and every life.
If we look back to the beginning of the crisis, we must admit that Europe was not sufficiently prepared for this pandemic. In its initial stages, many countries were very preoccupied with themselves – including Germany. But this was necessary in order to secure our own capacity to act and also to be able to help others. Since then, the European Union has grown stronger with each passing day of this crisis. We have found joint responses in many areas: we are cooperating to procure medical supplies and conducting research on vaccines. In Germany, we have taken in intensive care patients from Italy, France and the Netherlands, for example. Furthermore, we have, within a very short space of time, mobilised more than half a trillion euros to tackle the crisis.
The fact of the matter is that this solidarity among the EU Member States is unique to the world. This should be a source of encouragement to us all for the long path that still lies before us. Ensuring that the European Union emerges stronger from this crisis is the guiding principle of the German Government’s actions. Germany will continue to play its part in a spirit of solidarity to this end.
Permit me to wish you all the best for Europe Day 2020 – and stay healthy!