Message from Mr. Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff
Message by Mr. Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff, Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong
德意志聯邦共和國駐香港總領事 蘭布斯多夫 獻辭
Message by Mr. Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff, Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Hong Kong on the occasion of the German National Day on 3rd October 2014
On the “Day of German Unity”, the National Day of Germany, it is my great pleasure to convey my very best wishes to all our friends, partners and German nationals residing in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.
2014 is an extraordinary year in many perspectives. Not only did the German National Soccer Team win the FIFA World Cup title for the fourth time, we are also celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall on 9th November. This day made history and was a monumental event for all Germans and had a lasting positive influence not only on Germany but also on Europe as a whole as it represented the overcoming of Europe’s separation. The reunification of the German nation, one year later, was the result of a peaceful revolution, which had started in 1989 by the population of the former German Democratic Republic. People were crying out loud: „Wir sind ein Volk“ (“We are one nation”) and with those words they expressed their desire to become one nation with their compatriots in West Germany.
The positive development in Europe after 1989 is also expressed by a comparison between 1989 and today: While back then the European Union (EU) consisted of only ten nations, it nowadays comprises 28 member states. Germany, one of the founding nations of the EU, has been committed to the development and integration of the EU. The “European Project” is one of the cornerstones of Germany’s foreign policy. In the current debt crisis the German Government has been emphasizing the need to link European solidarity with improved fiscal sustainability and growth based on competitiveness.
Germany’s strong multilateral commitment also becomes evident with in the United Nations (UN). For many decades Germany has been actively engaged in the UN, amongst others as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. Germany is one of the largest contributors to the regular UN budget and also makes significant contributions to peacekeeping missions as well as to UN specialised agencies and other UN institutions. Today, a total of 26 UN organisations are based in Germany. As a matter of fact, according to a recent opinion poll, Germany has maintained its position as one of the countries with the most positive influence in the world in 2014.
We are proud to say that Germany has enjoyed a prosperous economic development in the past decade. It has a well-balanced federal budget and its job market is blossoming. The German Maastricht deficit has also been close to zero and, in structural terms, even gained a surplus for two years in a row. The German federal government has the strong commitment not to take on any new debt from 2015 on.
These positive trends are not only important for Germany itself but are also benefitting Hong Kong, as Germany is its largest trading partner in Europe with almost HK$ 130 billion worth of bilateral trade in 2013. More than 600 German companies are present here in various fields such as consulting, financial services and trade. These strong trade figures are also partly contributed by the growing trade of German wine, which is becoming increasingly popular in Hong Kong. For the second time, the German Wine Institute organised the global campaign “Riesling Weeks” in Hong Kong this year to cater for the growing local interest in the tradition-rich, top-quality wine grapes from Germany.
Our bilateral ties took another positive step when the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs. Carrie Lam, visited Berlin and Frankfurt earlier this year where she, amongst others, conducted talks in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and met Members of the German Parliament, the Bundestag. Furthermore, Mrs. Lam witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the mutual use of the automated immigration clearance service (e-Channels) between Germany and Hong Kong. This autumn, a high-ranking delegation of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will be expected in Hong Kong, in addition to numerous visits already conducted by economic delegations from German Federal States like Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse and North Rhein-Westphalia.
The yields of Mrs. Lam’s visit to Germany are not limited to a political level. Starting from this summer, the quota for the popular Working Holiday Scheme has been doubled, welcoming more young citizens of Hong Kong to gain insights into the life and culture of Germany. This supports the works of our partner institutions present in Hong Kong. Our cultural institute, Goethe-Institut Hongkong, has been acting successfully as a window to Germany’s cultural diversity and constantly sees record numbers of German learners in the city. Soon, another edition of “Kino”, the popular annual German Film Festival in Hong Kong, will be presented to the Hong Kong audience by the Goethe-Institut. The number of Hongkongers studying in Germany has also been on the rise. Thanks to the active work of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), not only numerous university partnerships between Germany and Hong Kong have been forged, the minimum admission requirements have also been lowered for local students wishing to pursue higher education in Germany. With many university courses taught in English and – thanks to generous public funding – no or only very moderate tuition fees, Germany is an attractive place for students and researchers from Hong Kong. Together with the German Swiss International School, which has nurtured youngsters with quality education over decades, the promotion of our country’s language and education will continue to pay off.
This year the German Consulate General is particularly happy to be able to actively support various initiatives and projects in Hong Kong with regard to the increasingly important issue of climate change.
Moreover our cultural exchange with Hong Kong in the music and arts continues to flourish. While in 2014 the Guerzenich Orchestra Cologne was chosen to be the opening programme of the Hong Kong Arts Festival, it is delightful to know that in the coming year, world-renowned conductor Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden will be featured again in the opening concert. We are grateful to the Hong Kong authorities as well as many local arts groups who continually invite artists from Germany to Asia’s World City, not to mention an array of activities celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Strauss to be staged this year.
On this special day, I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude once again to all our partners in Hong Kong for their cooperation and friendship, and extend my best wishes to all of them.
Nikolaus Graf Lambsdorff
German Consul-General in Hong Kong
德意志聯邦共和國駐香港總領事 蘭布斯多夫 獻辭
從許多觀點來看，二零一四年是不平凡的一年。不僅德國國家足球隊第四度贏得世界盃冠軍，我們還會在十一月九日慶祝柏林圍牆倒塌二十五周年。這一天創造了歷史，對全體德國人民是一個巨大事件，不僅對德國、甚至對整個歐洲均具持久的積極影響，它代表着克服歐洲的分裂。前德意志民主共和國人民於一九八九年進行和平革命，一年之後使德國獲得統一。人們大聲呼喊：Wir sind ein Volk(我們是一個國家)，而這句話表達了他們與在西德的同胞們成為一個國家的願望。
我們兩地雙邊連繫的另一積極步伐是，政務司司長林鄭月娥女士於今年初訪問了柏林和法蘭克福，她與聯邦經濟和能源部進行了會談，並會見了德國聯邦議會的國會議員。與此同時，她並見證德國與香港之間的《相互利用自動通關服務(e道)諒解備忘錄》的簽署儀式。今年秋天，一個高級別的聯邦運輸及數碼基礎設施部代表團將會訪港，而來自多個聯邦州份，包括不來梅、漢基、黑森和北萊茵 – 威斯特伐利亞等的經濟代表團已有來港訪問。
林鄭月娥女士訪問德國的得益不是局限於政治層面。從今年夏天開始，正在興起的「工作假期計劃」的配額增加了一倍，歡迎更多的香港年輕市民深入地洞察德國的生活與文化，並得到我們在香港的夥伴機構在工作上的支持。我們的文化協會，香港歌德學院已成功地作為德國文化多樣的窗口，而香港的德語學習者的數字屢創紀錄。由歌德學院主辦的另一屆「奇諾」 - 受歡迎的年度德國電影節即將在港舉行，並呈獻給香港觀眾欣賞。在德國學習的香港市民的人數正在增加。由於德國學術交流中心的積極工作，使多家德國與香港的大學結合為夥伴，並降低有意在德國接受高等教育的本地學生的入學要求。隨着許多大學課程以英語授課，並感謝慷慨的公共基金，令課程是免費或非常廉宜的費用，使德國成為吸引來自香港的學生和研究生之地。再加上德國瑞士國際學校培育青少年具質素的教育達數十年，促進了我國的語言和教育，並將繼續得到回報。