Closing speech by Minister of State Müntefering at Deutsche Welle Day in the Federal Foreign Office

30.05.2018 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr Limbourg,
Staff of Deutsche Welle,

I got to know and treasure Deutsche Welle (DW) during my work as a Member of the German Bundestag. That is why I was very keen to say a few words at the end of DW Day here in the Federal Foreign Office.

I understand that Deutsche Welle also plans to present its work in the German Bundestag next week so it is wonderful that DW came to the Federal Foreign Office today to show our colleagues what you do.

As Minister of State for International Cultural Policy, I have set various priorities for this legislative term. Strengthening freedom is key and this is a topic which is reflected in the central elements of Deutsche Welle’s work:

• DW provides people all around the world with information based on independent high quality journalism.
• It works to promote free access to a range of information and freedom of expression.
• At the same time, it gives German, European and other points of view a global communication platform and promotes the German language.
• In so doing, DW shapes Germany’s image as a mature, European nation of culture and a state based on the rule of law, freedom and democracy – true to the mandate it is given in the Deutsche Welle Act.

But how does this mandate shape up today in 2018? What does the future hold? These are the questions posed given various challenges which we need to discuss.

In his words of welcome this morning, the Director General for Culture and Communication in the Federal Foreign Office, Andreas Görgen, addressed some of the challenges we face in the field of communication abroad and, using concrete examples, made plain the dimension involved.

It is clear that communication is developing at a rapid pace. Classic media are being more and more digital, social media have now become the biggest communication hubs.

At the same time, we are seeing an increase in authoritarian tendencies which are directly targeting communication. Authoritarian states use the internet and social media for propaganda and disinformation and suppress freedom of information and of the press.

Furthermore we are seeing, above all on the internet, a battle of narratives, a battle over opinions and ideas which we need to face up to.

Given this trend, DW is an important partner for us. It uses the most modern media and the internet to work consistently and across various media. But it remains true to its mission: information and high quality journalism.

To my mind, our approach cannot be to respond to propaganda with counter-propaganda but with independent journalism, with fact based information and values rooted in democracy and freedom. We believe in the power of enlightenment.

Just recently on my trips to Africa, I learnt in talks with artists and journalists just how broadly DW radio stations are received, for example in Swahili, and how DW is reaching out to young people with additional offerings on facebook.

That is good. DW is on the right track. Your activities are directly linked to our work here in the Federal Foreign Office. You were able to see that for yourselves today.

We support DW by promoting projects worldwide, particularly in regions in which freedom of the press faces particular challenges due to conflicts and other restrictions.

I would like to draw your attention to Shababtalk.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank Mr Jaafar who is presenting the programme today in the Federal Foreign Office for his work.

You present and produce this popular programme in many places in the Arab world, often under very difficult circumstances. It creates a channel for young people which can communicate independent and credible information, a channel we so urgently need.

A further example is the multimedia foreign language service which DW realises in cooperation with the German Press Agency (dpa).

Countless media outlets use the content in their own media services meaning high quality German journalism is being used all around the world.

Reports on key events in Germany and international topics relating to Germany are being made available to international multipliers and media free of charge.

What is more, the Federal Foreign Office and its more than 200 foreign missions use these journalistic products on countless communication platforms which you may well be familiar with.

We need international dialogue to communicate freedom of information, of opinion and of the press. I am thus particularly looking forward to the 11th Global Media Forum on 11 June in Bonn.

I am sure we will again have enough to talk about in Bonn. We aren’t running out of topics.

This international media congress that the Federal Foreign Office is supporting brings media figures from all around the world together with actors from politics, culture, business, science and development cooperation. I’ll be there myself.

After all, ladies and gentlemen,

DW’s importance is not declining. In this age of disinformation and restrictions to freedom of the press, its importance is on the rise. That is why the coalition decided in the coalition agreement to provide DW with more financial support and to extend cooperation with DW further. We need high quality journalism more than ever and a strong voice for freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

I look forward to further cooperation with Deutsche Welle. I would like to thank you, Mr Limbourg and the entire DW team, for making this DW Day here in the Federal Foreign Office possible.

I wish us all every success together as we continue our work on communication abroad.

Thank you!


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