Message from Mr. Joachim Gauck

Message from Mr. Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany


When we celebrate our National Day this year, a quarter of a century after the peaceful revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe and the fall of the Berlin Wall, we recall that German unity was not simply a stroke of luck. It was the yearning for freedom of the oppressed that led to the overthrow of the oppressors in the communist dictatorships. It was the courage of many people in Gdansk, Prague, Budapest and Leipzig that made the miracle of German and European unity possible.

As we also recall this year on 3 October, ten years after the eastern enlargement of the European Union, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe brought their experiences of liberation to the European democracy project. We now stand together in Europe for the values and principles that we have achieved on our continent: for the rule of law, democracy, solidarity, openness, the dignity of the individual, and diversity. Our history of violence and wars also teaches us that the premises by which we live together cannot be taken for granted. Freedom and rights do not simply come our way. We constantly have to work for them.

We can see just how important this is now at a time when populist and anti-Europe sentiments are becoming louder within the European Union, voiced by those who fear cultural diversity and call for a withdrawal to the nation state, and at a time when international crises and conflicts bring home to us how fragile peace is, also in our immediate neighbourhood. The countries of Europe have moved closer together as a result. In a world in which the balance of power is shifting, we can only defend our values and interests if we stand together.

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 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.

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