I am very touched. Both to see me on the screen, as well as to have heard a laudation by Wolfgang Schüssel, a friend whom I respect greatly. I must say, if my beloved parents were here, my father would be very touched and my mother would have even believed what he said.
I haven‘t prepared myself in any way for such a detailed and friendly speech. I can only say that I broadly agree with the definition that I’ve seen my whole life as a mission for bridge-building. Even in the worst and darkest days, a psychopath from Upper Austria could not destroy my love for German culture, the German language and German literature, which I experienced as a child. My whole life I stood up for German culture, for the right thing and, without wanting to sound turgid, for the eternal Germany. The cooperation and friendship between Germany and England, Germany and the Jews, Israel and Germany have become my life’s work. And I am very lucky that in one case or another, I have managed to play a part in bridge-building.
That I can be here now at Sanssouci and that we meet here for the seventh time is a great honour and joy, as I initially conceived the idea and was then able to develop it further, with the help of the Lord Mayor of Potsdam and other friends.
It has been a historical decade, the first decade of the 21st century, shortly after the historically important decade of the 1990s, that saw the unification of Germany. So many incredibly important things have occurred in the first decade of this century and, in this second decade, we are at the cusp of major events in world history. Of course the Arab Spring is one very important event. In any case, it will stimulate very big decisions and truly positive results.
The pessimist might say that there are many examples of failed revolutions in history, but the optimist must hope that this will not be the case and that after all the children’s diseases have passed in these countries, a new era will break. And nothing could please me more than to see a successful cooperation between the Arab world and the Western world, between the Arab world and the Jewish world, between Israel and its neighbours, especially between the Palestinians and Israel.
The interesting thing is, I can testify after 60 years of cooperation that if you would ask the Israelis now, 80 percent of the population would get along wonderfully with the Arabs, if you could also remove the troublemakers. I am convinced that there were worse conflicts in the world that were solved. I hope and believe, and may tell you and my previous speakers, especially Wolfgang Schüssel – whom I admire very much – that I am confident when in 10 years time you will celebrate an anniversary here in Sanssouci, you will also celebrate the reconciliation of these two peoples.