Reception on October 3, 2014Enlarge image
Greeting by Ambassador Andreas Zimmer on the Day of German Unity
Honourable officials of the Government of the State of Eritrea,
Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Colleagues of the German Embassy,
liebe deutsche Landsleute,
I would like to sincerely thank the marvellous orchestra of the Asmara Music School for so masterfully performing the national anthems. Listening to you is always very inspiring.
My wife Jeanette and I warmly welcome you. We would like to thank you on behalf of the entire staff of the embassy for joining us in celebrating the 24th anniversary of the “Day of German Unity”.
On this day we pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands who peacefully marched for freedom and democracy in former East Germany an d in Eastern Europe. They brought down the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain without a single shot being fired. And they paved the way for political unity – not only for our nation but also for democracy, freedom and unity in Europe.
In 2014, we look back on milestones that shaped the course of both German and world history.
Two of these dates cast especially long shadows: one hundred years ago, two gunshots fired in Sarajevo started the First World War. Seventy-five years ago, Germany unleashed the Second World War with the invasion of Poland.
But we are also celebrating a moment of triumph in German and European history in 2014. The Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago. Less than a year later, German unity became a reality on 3 October 1990.
This day ended decades of division for our country. It is also a milestone on the road towards a united Europe, a process our neighbours in Poland and the other “new member states” completed ten years ago.
On the Day of German Unity, we celebrate what we have achieved and created. We see a Germany that has a strong economy and is respected worldwide. We rebuilt our country after World War II with the help of our former enemies and many immigrants from Southern Europe, Turkey and all over the world. German companies are working in “unglamorous but profitable niches” (so a British magazine), as there are grey machineries, unexplainable electrical engineering and boring chemical products. We see a vibrant democracy in which confident citizens resolve disputes peacefully and look pragmatically for solutions.
The joy we experienced in recent years also gives us the strength to take on responsibility in the world in cooperation with our allies and partner countries. We Germans actively foster international understanding, as well as peace and human rights – in Europe and in this shared world of ours.
Germany is ready to take up more responsibility in the world. Concerning Africa this means that we have to put our policy on Africa in the context of shaping globalisation positively. Never before Nations and peoples were more dependent than today. What is not good for the world, what is not good for Africa, that is on the long run not good for Germany and Europe - and vice versa. We want to intensify the German-African partnership in fields, where we can contribute good experiences. I am thinking here of education, especially vocational training, which is a key for development.
There is an African proverb, “Be careful of a naked man who offers you clothes”. Yes, we Europeans are naked – with our double standards and easy hypocritical remarks about African problems, to which we have often contributed ourselves. We as Europeans have to regain our credibility.
Keyword corruption: Fighting corruption is not a one way street. Corruption often has the face of Western company representatives and European account numbers.
Keyword environment pollution: Despite all the talk about green growth in Africa, there are many multinational companies that do not care enough about what happens to their waste.
We have to overcome these double standards in international politics. Africa has already noticed that the emperor has no clothes on. The new Africa is looking for credible, honest and serious partners. Germany is ready for this.
We need for the German – African relations new ways of dialogue and cooperation. We (Germans) need a cultural change in our Africa policy, which takes into account the historical changes taking place in Africa at the moment und which reflects the global importance of this continent. Such a cultural change demands a lot from us: self criticism, differentiation, patience, courage – and the political will to realize changes in attitude.
Germany is present in Eritrea since 1995. The Horn of Africa is seeing an intense diplomatic activity. In this context, Germany offers dialogue, particularly within the frame of the United Nations, in order to promote the integration of Eritrea in the international community. We had fruitful talks during the General Assembly last week.
We believe that this is the right way. We warmly welcome the recent steps towards more integration that have been taken by Eritrean diplomacy. I hope that all your hopes will come true and that one day an Eritrea freed of border conflicts will have peaceful relations with all neighbours. Today, regional cooperation and adherence to international values provide predictable and sustainable economic development.
Making the most of these benefits is central to our bilateral relations. It is our joint mission to exploit the opportunities of a different, better world since the fall of the Iron Curtain. It is in this spirit that we continue to enhance our relations with Eritrea which are firm and strong.
In the field of development cooperation, the European Union is increasingly acting on behalf of its member states and does so in a more and more integrated fashion.
More integration among Europeans does not mean less cooperation and support for our partners. On the contrary. As an integrated partner in the EU, we see great potential for sustainable development in regional cooperation.
It is therefore important to us that Eritrea continues to benefit from the Cotonou Agreement and the European Development Fund (EDF), which receives contributions from the member states.
Let me therefore stress again: Germany is the biggest contributor to the EU budget (20%). Germany will pay attention that Eritrea profits from the new EDF 11 (in 2015), as she did from EDF 10.
In closing, allow me to address a few words to my German compatriots: Ich danke Ihnen allen, insbesondere unseren Ärzten, für ihr Engagement und ihre wertvollen Beiträge, die sie tagtäglich in Eritrea und in unsere Beziehungen zu diesem schönen Land investieren. Wir schätzen Ihren Einsatz sehr!
There are many fields of potential cooperation between Germany and Eritrea – be it in business, investment, vocational and educational training or sports and culture. The opportunities are ours to grasp, for the government, but also for people from all walks of life, including business, NGOs, civil society, unions, universities, and religious communities. In these efforts we can rely on the human factor: We have thousands of well educated Germans with Eritrean background who are ready to serve their old and new home country.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is in the spirit of openness, appreciation of freedom and international cooperation that I would like to invite you to raise your glasses and toast to the well-being of the people of Eritrea- as well as to ever closer German-Eritrean relations.: Ni-Ertra Selamn Biltignan Imne!
(wishing peace and prosperity to Eritrea)