Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
-- Es gilt das gesprochene Wort --
„Ladies and gentlemen,
herzlich willkommen, mirë se keni ardhur, srdacno dobrodosli, welcome,
Together with my wife and the whole family of the German Embassy, thank you for joining us today to celebrate our National day, the German Unity Day.
Allow me to say a particular welcome to all those present from our cooperation agencies GIZ and KfW, as we are also celebrating 20 years of German-Kosovar cooperation. To those present, please pass on to your colleagues not here today how proud I am as German Ambassador to see what you have accomplished here and are continuing to do for the people of Kosovo. Which I think deserves a round of applause.
This year, as has become the tradition in Germany, the rotation of the festivities within the 16 Länder moves to the northernmost Land Schleswig-Holstein, bordering Denmark. This is our gateway to Scandinavia embraced by two seas, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. There is a longstanding maritime and agricultural tradition, which explains some of the decoration you see here and some food items and beer specimen you will still discover. But Schleswig-Holstein also has a long diversity history. Three of the four officially recognized national minorities in Germany live in the North: the Danes, the Frisians, and also the German Sinti and Roma. The Danish minority up in the North with specific political minority rights in the electoral code, for education and more. And three protected minority languages are spoken in the North: Danish, Frisian and Romanes.
However, some people in our country might already consider the German dialect, also a protected regional language itself spoken there as being a little difficult to understand:
ok för jüm all een haddliget Willkoam op unsan Empfang för den Dach to de Düdtsche Eenheid.
Wi froid uns, dat Se dorbi sind und wi all tosomm fiean könnt.
Der Beginn unseres deutschen Engagements für dieses Land und seine Menschen nach dem schrecklichen Krieg von 1999 liegt nun auch schon 20 Jahre zurück. Und Deutschland arbeitet beharrlich weiter an der Seite Kosovos, damit die Lebensverhältnisse hier besser werden, und die Menschen in geordneten Verhältnissen hier die Verwirklichung ihrer Träume ins Werk setzen können. Ohne Sie, meine Damen und Herren, wäre dies nicht möglich. Darauf dürfen wir allesamt stolz sein, und dafür möchte ich Ihnen allen meinen ausdrücklichen Dank aussprechen.
Ladies and gentlemen,
this year also marks the anniversary of one of the most joyful moments in German history, the 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall. We will mark this anniversary with a series of accompanying events as well here in Kosovo, because that particular moment has a meaning that goes way beyond Eastern Germany. It all started at this very moment 30 years ago with the first really huge demonstrations which told a tale of forthcoming change.
It is first of all a tale of courageous people: Nobody anticipated that such a thing could happen, that people in the then GDR would simply be fed up one day. Fed up with pollution and the degradation of living conditions, fed up with the lack of everyday liberties, fed up with an economic system on the verge of implosion because of incompetent party apparatchiks pretending they knew how to steer an economy, fed up with a class of leadership that lived on a different planet, both materially in their fat Volvo limousines whereas the people had to drive their rattling Trabants, and politically when they proclaimed socialist equality, solidarity and heaven on Earth while locking away opponents. People who were not in line couldn’t study, were blocked from jobs, harassed, treated as outcasts. Independent justice? Forget it. Independent media? Forget it. If, however, you gave the impression of following what we would qualify as ‘fake news’ today and joined the unique party structure, everything was great. You could feel as member of the club and were treated as such. The majority of the people, however, had to bear with modest living conditions and were, nevertheless, told that they were better off.
But the worst was the lack of freedom. Very few dared to contradict the state present everywhere, present at work, present in your private life, even in your bedroom. The instruments of intimidation and control were as horrendous and as enormous as the task to control a whole population. And that is what brought about abrupt change: People didn’t want to be told anymore what to think, what to do, how to vote. They knew the system was rigged, they wanted to be heard, they wanted to have a true democracy, a choice, and finally decide for themselves. Waves of ever growing demonstrations swept cities across East Germany, with the most famous ones in Leipzig. The world looked on in astonishment as we did in Western Germany on this unlocked courage of citizens who wanted their rights as citizens: “We are the people„ they chanted. And the so-called elites were helpless. Why did the system of repression not work anymore, why did people dare speak out what they wanted? To me the best example of complete misunderstanding of reality on the ground was the longstanding head of the Stasi, the so called state security, Erich Mielke, who was overwhelmed and in one of his last public statements said “But I love you all„. The same man, upon whose orders so many biographies were shattered, families and friendships destroyed and people killed.
People fought for real democracy and a few months later in March 1990, the first truly democratic elections took place. That is the time also when a young scientist took up her first political position as deputy spokesperson of the first freely elected government, today’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. And that is why she personally engages so much with everything to do with personal freedom, rule of law and a modest state at the service of its citizens. She had seen it the other way round when citizens were supposed to be respectfully crawling at the service of state leadership. All of today’s Germans can be grateful to those who rose 30 years ago showing exemplary civic bravery.
On a personal note, I am equally grateful for this lesson of citizen’s engagement for democracy. I have lived in many countries and know that the world is not just composed of places where these liberties are fully granted and lived in practice. And yet, I believe in the right of every individual on this planet to decide on his or her fate, to freely elect in a democratic system whom they want to entrust with their vote for the common good. The right of every citizen is to be treated with equal respect before the law.
In Berlin, every citizen can now walk through the cupola on our parliament building the Reichstag, thus standing over the plenary of the parliamentarians. This has such a high symbolical value: The sovereign is the people, nobody else. In Germany, we had to learn it the hard way. And it is a never-ending learning process, democracy has to be defended and treasured every single day. It is a system which demands responsibility by everybody. And it becomes fragile once we take things for granted or simply let go.
30 years ago an amazing story developed which ended in real change all over Central and Eastern Europe. We are indebted to the brave citizens who recalled these high valours by peacefully fighting for their rights, for freedom and democracy. Thank you!
Ladies and gentlemen, I now pray silence for the national anthems. However if I may add for the German anthem: singing is not just allowed, it is highly welcome. After all, the key words are: “Unity, justice, freedom„.“