Thirty years ago, the confrontation between the two blocs in Europe came to an end. Since then, people in Poland and reunited Germany have lived in freedom and democracy. And since then, there has been a revolution in relations between our two countries.
Where once mistrust between opposing military alliances was the order of the day, Germany and Poland are now partners in the European Union and NATO. Furthermore, trade and investments have created very close links between our economies. This unique success story would not have been possible without the courageous new start in our relations after 1990.
The German-Polish Treaty on Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, whose 30th anniversary we celebrated in June, stands for this new start. And the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation, whose 30th anniversary you are marking together today, also stands for the new start in our relations. Over the past three decades, the Foundation has become a pillar of our bilateral relations.
It has funded 16,000 German-Polish projects since 1991. With its support, dedicated Poles and Germans have been able to restore hundreds of monuments, to organise exhibitions and concerts, and to twin Polish and German towns. And in the Polen-Mobil project for schools and the German-Polish Media Conference, the Foundation is supporting key components of our cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
All of these projects express the closeness that has developed between people in Germany and Poland over the past 30 years.
However, this closeness, the achievements in German-Polish reconciliation and the post‑1990 integration of eastern and western Europe were not, and are not, a matter of course.
We reached out to one another and achieved better mutual understanding, but some things still divide us to this day and the burden of history continues to weigh particularly heavily on us. That is why it remains the ongoing task of every German Government to nurture German-Polish relations and to ensure that they remain vibrant.
This includes joint commemoration, which we will take to a new level by establishing a memorial centre in Berlin for the Polish victims of the Second World War. It also includes an open dialogue on the future of the European Union, in which we are united and bound by shared values such as freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. And it includes constantly bringing people from our countries together ‒ as the Foundation for German-Polish Cooperation has been doing for 30 years now. These contacts between people are precisely what we need now more than ever.
I would like to thank all of you ‒ the board, the board of trustees and the volunteers in countless associations and organisations ‒ most sincerely for your wonderful and long-standing dedication.
Your work has played a huge part in our German-Polish success story. We will continue to need you in the years to come and so I would like to take this opportunity to wish you every success in your future endeavours!
Thank you very much.