Message from Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the occasion of the Day of German Unity, 3 October 2016
(© photothek/Thomas Köhler)
The fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany and the overcoming of the division of Europe into East and West: without a doubt, these events marked a historic watershed whose impact stretched far beyond Germany’s borders. The new start was one characterised by the hope, or indeed the expectation, that everything was going to get better now. Some spoke of the “end of history”. There was a firm belief that a new order would be created and bring peace and stability worldwide.
Today, 27 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have to acknowledge that the world is experiencing a level of disorder not seen for a long time. The denseness and intensity of the crises and conflicts raging around us is greater than anyone would have predicted in 1989. New and old actors are fighting for influence in a world that has become increasingly complex. The end of history? Absolutely not.
Even though the images of crises and disasters are dominating the papers and news bulletins, we should always call to mind the successes. Take the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Minsk agreement in the Ukraine crisis, the gradual success in managing the refugee crisis or the peace agreement in Colombia, which has brought an end to a conflict which long appeared hopeless.
Diplomacy takes time and patience. The problems of the world cannot be solved overnight. Often, many painstaking, small steps are needed to find solutions. It’s time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it is important to remember that we have the right instruments to create a level of order.
Germany shouldering responsibility is part of this. That is also why we have reviewed and renewed our foreign policy in recent years. In 2016, Germany assumed the Chairmanship of the OSCE. We are applying for a seat on the UN Security Council for the 2019-20 term. This responsibility gave rise not least to my initiative to launch talks on arms control between the West and Russia.
But for a new order to take root, there needs to be creative power. At this time when peace is not guaranteed, Germany must create impetus for shaping the world. I firmly believe that, with patience and willingness to reach out to others, we can make this world a little more peaceful and a little more just.