Speech of Ambassador Sräga

Wording of the speech held by Ambassador Gudrun Sräga on October 3 in the presence of Maltese President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca and Foreign Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela:

"Twenty-seven years ago today, on 3 October 1990, Germany was reunited peacefully with the approval of its neighbours in Europe and its partners worldwide.

Shortly afterwards, new countries were established in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Only 14 years later, eight of the former Communist countries joined the European Union along with Malta and Cyprus.

The younger generation has never known a different situation in Europe and the world. They have only read about the Cold War and the Iron Curtain in history books or on the internet. It is not part of their own life experience. This young generation has settled easily into a unified Europe which offers all the advantages of a continent characterised by democracy, respect for human rights, liberty, social security, and a stable and liberal economic system. And, most importantly, by peace that has lasted for 72 years!

Every year since 1990, we Germans have paused and reflected on how lucky we are to enjoy what this unified Europe has achieved, on how accustomed we have become to relying on each other and on how important it is to face internal and external problems together and in concert.

Recent developments have, however, made us realise that there are challenges and threats to this comfortable world. From the inside: populism, economic failures and terrorism. From the outside: political instability, even war developing in our neighbourhood, and millions of refugees deciding to seek protection and opportunities in Europe, which has made many of us feel insecure ourselves.

Economic problems, which have caused a youth unemployment rate of almost 40 percent in some countries, have shown that we must fight for a more inclusive type of growth and the creation of jobs, better and equal pay and greater social security. Many question whether the structures of the Union are up to tackling these problems. But will each country be able to solve them individually? Certainly not. The European Union has proven that we will overcome these difficult times when we stand together.

When it comes to foreign policy challenges, we have to be aware that the European Union was not initially intended to be a global player. It was intended to create peace and prosperity for its members in Europe. This has worked for decades. We have created a system which has, to all intents and purposes, eliminated the risk of war in Europe, or at least within the European Union.

The remembrance days for the First World War back in the spring make us aware how war and the absence of peace felt in the past, as do the commemorative events that took place in Malta last month, reminding us of the terrible attacks of 1942 which caused Malta enormous suffering. These examples show us how much we have achieved since that time.

We believe that, with this in mind, the European Union will be strong enough to help solve the crises in its neighbourhood and beyond. We know what we stand to lose if we do not find compromises and common positions on the most important problems within the Union and its neighbourhood.

Germany will always side with those who do their utmost to find joint solutions on the basis of our shared values.

This has been confirmed today in the speeches of German dignitaries on the occasion of the celebrations in Germany especially by an impressive speech by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

This past year was very busy in Malta as regards politics. The Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union brought thousands of officials, journalists and experts to the country to attend Informal Council Meetings. There were also gatherings of academics and experts to discuss pressing political topics in depth and without political constraints.

Malta was highly praised by its partners in the European Union for the excellent organisation of its six-month Presidency, and also for the progress that was achieved in important policy areas such as relations with neighbours in the Mediterranean, the East and the Western Balkans. The Maltese Presidency also managed to find solutions that are intended to bring the EU closer to the people, which was one of the main goals of the Presidency.

Perhaps I should try and emulate the approach taken by my Irish colleague in his National Day speech earlier this year, who said that he didn’t want to mention all the high-ranking visitors he welcomed from Ireland and then went on to name them. That was after half of the Presidency! I really can’t mention all the German Ministers, MPs and other high-profile politicians who visited Malta during that period. Allow me to mention only a few. Chancellor Merkel came to Malta twice, the German Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Finance attended the respective meetings here. They were all thrilled by the country’s hospitality and by the beauty and the sense of history that it displays everywhere. Many are thinking of coming back someday!

Another highlight was – of course – the visit by our President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at your invitation, Madam President, to take part in the Arraiolos Meeting of the non-executive Presidents of the European Union. This event took place two weeks ago. The discussions were very intensive, open and productive. And I can say that our President and Ms Büdenbender were impressed by your hospitality and by what they saw in Malta.

Such political visits clearly dominated the past year. But there were also cultural events such as the concert by the orchestra of the Otto-Sinfoniker Berlin sponsored by the Evangelical Church in Germany. The trip was combined with an ecumenical service in the Co-Cathedral in Mdina to mark the beginning of the Protestant Reformation by Martin Luther 500 years ago.

Other interesting cultural activities were sponsored by the German Embassy and by the German-Maltese Circle together with the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, the Malta Film Festival and Din l-Art Helwa.

In all this, I do not want to fail to mention the contribution to the country made by German companies which have, once again, increased their investments this year, creating more jobs in the process.

German-Maltese relations are, at all levels, strong, healthy and most friendly, both within the framework of the European Union and bilaterally.

With this in mind, I would like to propose a toast to the friendship and good cooperation between Germany and Malta and to your health and wellbeing, Madam President!"