Day of German Unity 2015

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Ambassador Dr. Zimmer and his wife have hosted a reception on the occasion of  the German Day of Unity 2015. Amongst the guests were ministers, diplomats, Eritrean partners and friends. Around 250 guests enjoyed the German beer, sausages and “Fleischkäse mit Sauerkraut” at the Asmara Palace. The students from the Asmara Music School were playing the national anthems of Eritrea and Germany. Mr Barnabas Mebrahtu, well known in the Eritrean music scene, was moderating the evening. Besides the speech of Ambassador Dr. Zimmer and the cutting of the cake together with Minister of Energy, H.E. Mr. Sebhat Ephrem, the Buddy Bear painted by Eritrean artists has been presented to the public.

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Greeting by Ambassador Andreas Zimmer on the Day of German Unity 2015

Asmara, Oct. 9, 2015

Honourable Ministers,

Honourable officials of the Government of the State of Eritrea,

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Colleagues of the German Embassy,

liebe deutsche Landsleute,

Kuburanen, Kuburaten,



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 25th anniversary of the “Day of German Unity”.

25 years of German unification! This is a day to be joyful and a day to be thankful!

It is day to be joyful especially when we look back just a little further: the United Nations were founded 70 years ago!

But since 1945, slowly over seven decades, our country has grown back into the heart of the International Community!

We have grown back – because our friends and partners have let us grow back!

That’s why this is also a day to be thankful:

Thankful to the  courageous people of Eastern Europe and Eastern Germany who started a peaceful revolution and, as one famous American put it, who “tore down this Wall”…

And thankful to our friends and partners who gave our country the chance to rebuild itself, to rebuild trust in others, to build partnerships, to see partnerships turn into friendships  - and finally, to reunite as one country!

Our country is now:


-        Reunited,

-        Economically strong,

-        firmly embedded in the European Union,

-        With friends and connections throughout the world,

-        and even the soccer world champion…


But – ladies and gentlemen- this day of joy and gratitude is also a day to accept our responsibility! We have more conflicts in the world today than years ago: in the Middle East, in Africa – and even on our European continent in the Ukraine.

None of these conflicts have quick fixes. But I am convinced: None of them will be solved on the battlefields! So Germany is contributing to the efforts of international diplomacy. We ourselves have been allowed back into the international order – so today, we must help to protect and rebuild this order in times of crisis.

Willy Brandt, when he became German chancellor in 1969, put our responsibility in a wonderful phrase. He said: “Wir Deutschen sollen ein Volk guter Nachbarn sein!” – „We Germans want to be a people of good neighbors.“ Back then, Willy Brandt addressed this phrase mostly to Poland and France and all other European neighbors who had suffered under Nazi Germany. But today, as the world has grown smaller but the problems have not, we Germans want to be a people of good neighbors, to those near and those far! We want to cooperate with all nations without an ulterior motive.

Four weeks ago the Subsahara Initiative of the German business organized with the support the German Federal Government the First German-African Business Summit in Berlin. This  summit should show: Africa is important for Germany. Sometimes I wish we would act more consistently according to this insight.   

Here are some figures:

In 2015  six out the eleven fastest growing economies lie in Subsahara-Africa,

Malnutrition  has been reduced since 1990 of a quarter, only five percent of the Africans live in a conflict zone, the population of Subsahara-Africa will double until 2050. Africa is a growing continent..

We have to see Africa much more differentiated and see its differences. In Asia we would not put Afghanistan and Japan in one pot or in Europe Portugal and Iceland. So it is in Africa as well.

As Europeans we can contribute in four sectors in Africa:

First, the economic development,

Second,  peace and security,

Third, regionalization,

Fourth, the big topic migration.

Concerning the economic development:

The economic growth becomes more and more important, development cooperation, which we and others give, will not generate growth. 2015 shows: The foreign direct investment in Africa will for the first time overtake the donor transfers. Only in 2014 there were 128 billions US-dollars foreign investment in Africa - with this Africa is No. 2 after Asia continentwise.

But Africa needs fair trade conditions. “We have to move from free trade to fair trade”, as our Minister for Economic Cooperation, Gerd Müller,  recently said. It is no longer possible that 20 percent of the world population consume 80 percent of the global resources. We (Europeans, Germans) do not pay fair prices for these resources. This has to be changed. Take for example  a chocolate bar: it costs in the supermarket in Germany 59 Euro-Cents, of this only 2 cents go to the producer. If it would be  double, 4 cents, that would mean only for Germany with a consumption of 60 million bars 120 Mio Euros more for the producers.

I think it is right what President Isaias said in his last interview: “Aid cripples people”. Aid needs to be aid for self help and for development. We have to treat Africa as an equal partner at eye level. We need a European development concept for Africa. The European business is requested to use more the chances of this continent and to invest here. African products need better access to the German and European markets. Africa is a dynamic continent.


Let me say a few words on migration:

If you follow the programs in the last months then you have the impression a whole continent is on the way to Germany. But the figures give another picture: Africa is not dominating the flows of refugees and migrants to Germany, but these are people from the Middle East and the Balkans.

We have to combat the  causes of the conflicts. This is the task of German foreign policy together with our partners: to solve conflicts, to be engaged in peace and security. 

[The American ambassador to Germany called us, as we had a meeting with him in Berlin, CFO, “Chief Facility Officer”.]

The German  Foreign Minister presented together with the Vice-Chancellor a ten-Point-Program how to deal with migration in Germany. There they said we have to work together much more intensive with our African partners. In November we  will have the EU-African Summit in Valetta /Malta. – there we have to become concrete. We have to be honest to ourselves: Too long we said that we are not an immigration society – first this is not true and second this lie was a mistake. As consequence the only legal way to come to Germany was the asylum-door.

I think  we have to learn from one another. Many countries in Africa have more experience with flight and migration than we have. One third of all refugees (Vertriebenen)  worldwide are in the states of Subsahara-Africa, these are 12 million people! The migration between Africa and Europe is not a one way street: In the course of the financial crisis more than 160.000 Portuguese went from Portugal to Angola.  

We (my family and me) arrived here a year ago. You always want to achieve more than you actually achieve but I think we are on the right track: We restarted resp. intensified the political dialogue between Germany and Eritrea, our Africa –Director was here, the economic cooperation will restart ( we had the delegation here), the visit of our Minister of cooperation is now planned for February next year, there are interests of German companies to come here and invest, there is a new openness many journalists from Germany and other countries visit(ed) the country, migration delegations (ministry of interior) will come. We work closely together with the Eritrean ministries and independent organizations like NUEW, NUEYS, NCEW.

But we should not forget the biggest project we had this year: the Leipzig Philharmonic Orchestra came and had two performances in Asmara, on the national day of independence and in the Theatre. This was our gift to 24 years of independence to Eritrea. I think the orchestra brought a special flavor to this year’s celebrations and I was pleased that the Eritrean people liked it. But as you will see in the documentary video Eritrea put a deep impression onto the young musicians from Germany.

Here I would like to thank a special person, who put in a lot of efforts to make the concerts of the Leipzig Orchestra possible, who organized with the International Women’s Club the first charity ball in Eritrea  - my wife Jeanette. She even flew especially now to Germany to bring the sausages (Würstchen) you will find outside.  Thank you so much, in the daily hustle and bustle I often forget to thank you and take everything for granted  - muchas gracias.

Even another setting of this evening would not have been possible without her: the bear you see her to my right, is a symbol of Berlin and a open Germany. Jeanette organized that the Eritrean artists Noah Mulubrhan and Tesfalem Atenaw designed it and it will be a lasting sign of German-Eritrean friendship and will have his permanent  place in front of the Embassy on Warsay Street. You will find this “Buddy Bears”, as we call them, at many places in Berlin and in the meantime worldwide in front of German embassies.

Finally let me express my thanks to the staff of the Embassy and the Hotel Asmara Palace for organizing the evening.

Now I do not want to keep you longer away from the buffet.

I would like to ask the Foreign Minister to come forward and cut with me the cake!

Let  us toast to the German-Eritrean-Friendship!

Thank you and enjoy the evening.











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Day of German Unity 2015