Unfortunately, the former Vice Chancelor and Foreign Minister Genscher could not take part in the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium 2015 on health grounds. Instead, he sent us the following Video Message.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Thank you for inviting me to open this timely conference at such an historic venue.
Here in Potsdam, just two months after the end of World War II, the “Grand Alliance” met to agree “the measures necessary to assure that Germany never again will threaten its neighbours or the peace of the world”.
Four zones of occupation were established; Berlin was split into four sectors.
There were many substantial boundary changes fixed elsewhere in Europe and, as you know all very well, especially so in and around Poland.
The “Big Three” summits at Potsdam and at Yalta before shaped the post- war world for the next 45 years until the fall of the Berlin wall on Nov. 9 1989.
For Germany the cold war, so to say, happily ended with the reunification on October 3, 1990, preceded by the conclusion of the
“2 plus 4” – treaty in Moscow on September 12, 1990.
Just a few weeks later on November 1st the Charta of Paris was signed up by the 34 participating European states, except Albania, as well as the United States and Canada.
The period from 1945 to 1990 has largely been characterized by the confrontation of the two so-called superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union.
The two war allies became – almost immediately – adversaries, the cold war the stage for ideological antagonism and for an extremely dangerous arms race, including the massive build-up of nuclear weapons.
Germany was divided and under quadripartite control.
Europe, too, was divided, with an eastern sphere under Soviet power, and the people in the countries of Central – and Eastern Europe were the victims.
The “hopes for a better future for the world”, as promised in Roosevelt ‘s and Churchill’s Atlantic Charter of 1941, seemed to vanish.
Winston Churchill, thrown out of office by the British elections during the Potsdam conference, himself expressed best what had happened in his great speech in Fulton, Missouri, on March 5, 1946: “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent”.
At Potsdam in July/August 1945, the United States of America, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom also called upon the government of Japan to proclaim the immediate unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces and declared: “The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction”.
We know what followed: On August 6 and 9, 1945, US planes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing around 200.000 Japanese people instantly.
On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan signed the unconditional surrender, ending the Second World War in Asia as well.
Some good news – with positive long-term consequences – was the conference in San Francisco from April to June 1945.
50 nations met to draft and sign the United Nations Charter which was ratified at the first UN General Assembly meeting in London on October 24 still in 1945.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Ever since 1945, the very, very gradual – peaceful! – dissolution of the antagonistic division between the ideological and military blocs in Europe meant for Germany, for the Federal Republic of Germany an extremely slow-moving, often frustrating path with a number of crucial steps:
– First and foremost, under Konrad Adenauer’s inspiring leadership, the acquisition of sovereignty (but still limited) in 1955, and the full adherence of the West German State to the Atlantic Alliance and to the growing European Community.
– Based on these unshakable commitments, the active “Ostpolitik” pursued by Willy Brandt and Walter Scheel, led to the signing of treaties of cooperation with the Soviet Union and Poland in 1970, with Czechoslovakia in 1973, the Treaty on the Basis of Relations with the German Democratic Republic in 1972, and in 1971 the Quadripatite Agreement on Berlin.
All these treaties recognized the status quo, while acknowledging the existing fundamental differences, but – for the benefit of the people so painfully affected by the division of Germany – worked out practical measures for an acceptable modus vivendi.
Somewhat “crowning” the spectacular and also controversial sequence of treaties was then the admission of both German states to the United Nations in 1973, marking the full acceptance of the Germans in the international community.
The success of the Ostpolitik allowed the inception of the CSCE process.
The Helsinki Final Act (HFA) of August 1, 1975, joined together 35 States: all the European States with the exception of Albania, as well as the two North American States were included.
They agreed on ten principles guiding their relations and on cooperation in all fields, including commerce, culture, information, military confidence-building measures and, most importantly for the Germans, human contacts across the intra-German borders.
For the Soviet Union, however, the formal recognition and confirmation of the post-war order in Europe, of the territorial status quo, was of primary significance, insisting on the inviolability of frontiers.
I had the honour of negotiating the relevant Principle One of the Helsinki Final Act just a few months after becoming Foreign Minister.
With the indispensable support of Henry Kissinger we succeeded in putting the following phrase into Principle One:
” …their frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement”.
In addition, upon strong request by such independent- minded countries as Yugoslavia and Romania and fully supported by our delegation, Principle One contains, i. a., a most precious clause, called by the conference insiders the “Hamlet formula”:
The Participating States have “…the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance …”
Both the “Peaceful Change” clause and the “Hamlet Formula” were instrumental in the successful negotiation of the “2 plus 4”-Treaty 15 years later, providing the invaluable reference points for allowing reunification and the membership of the reunited Germany in NATO.
Five days ago, we could observe the 25th anniversary of the signing of that treaty in Moscow – with deep gratitude and happiness over the wonderful peacefully achieved result.
Equally we shall be able, in two months, to observe the 25th anniversary of the “Charter of Paris for a New Europe”.
But, I am sorry to say that, we have not yet so much to celebrate.
Today we can still be absolutely content with the full implementation of the” Treaty on the Final Settlement with respect to Germany of 12 September 1990″.
Not the least because the treaty fully takes into account also the legitimate needs of our partners, among them, of course, the Soviet Union – now the Russian Federation.
In the very night before the signature ceremony, the delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany drafted a text that explicitly commits the Government of the united Germany to decide deployments of foreign armed forces (= from other NATO members) within the territory of the former German Democratic Republic ” in a reasonable and responsible way taking into account the security interests of each contracting Party …”
I am convinced: This is an on-going commitment reaching beyond the specific application within the “2 plus 4” – Treaty.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
This concludes my rather brief review of the period since Potsdam 1945, highlighting several key negotiations in which – to some degree – I had the privilege to be involved.
The past might offer some general lessons to foreign policy decision-making.
Of course, it is up to our statesmen and diplomats to learn to apply them – with caution and with courage in a flexible, case-by-case way – to the current crises and to the very serious, complex problems in the present seemingly chaotic global situation:
(1) Define your core values and vital interests – equally, understand the values and respect the interests of your partners and adversaries!
We the Germans did it by our consistent and unequivocal engagement for PEACE (in capital letters!), for freedom and democracy, for the full respect of human rights, for the rule of law, for social justice and for economic and social well-being.
Our Constitution, the “Fundamental Law” of 1949, which in 1990 became the Constitution of the reunited Germany as well, encompasses all these values.
I believe they guide and determine our society and political life in an exemplary fashion.
(2) Look for the right partners in defending and advancing your objectives!
Yes, indeed , Germany chose good partners – now friends! – in the Western Alliance, with the transatlantic relationship, and, most obviously, in the European Union (now with 28 members and still many applicants).
Furthermore, Germany entertains, to the mutual benefit of all, good relations and comprehensive cooperation with all the other neighbours in Europe and with countries around the world – and will continue to do so!
(3) Never, never give up dialogue!
Based on Germany’s long, at the end, however, rewarding experiences since 1945, dialogue clearly constitutes for us the indispensable instrument in addressing international conflicts and crises.
It helps avoiding misunderstandings and better appreciating the interests of the other side.
Without doubt dialogue is the precondition for finding mutually acceptable solutions.
That takes time, including frustration and setbacks, but it can succeed.
One very recent event does prove it: the signing of the nuclear treaty between Iran, the five permanent members of the UN-Security Council, the EU and, I am proud to say, Germany.
(4) Always prefer confidence-building and cooperation to confrontation!
The depressing situation in and around Ukraine remains most critical and dangerous.
The annexation of the Crimea has clearly violated international law and the principles of Helsinki.
Accordingly, the mutual trust between the states involved has been virtually destroyed.
Communication and negotiations are therefore existentially important to rebuild trust and to resolve the outstanding conflicts.
The two Minsk accords continue to provide the basis for the urgently necessary efforts to get peace in the Ukraine in accordance with international law.
Germany, through Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier, is doing everything possible to help.
They deserve our gratitude and support!
(5) Stick to your obligations and use the existing international institutions and fora!
The United Nations for the whole world and the OSCE (the institutionalized CSCE) for Europe have become most valuable organizations for conflict prevention and, to some degree, conflict resolution.
They, too, need much more support.
Germany continues making quite a substantial contribution to their commendable concrete peace-building work.
In addition, other fora must be employed in times of crisis, for example, the – at present – grossly neglected consultative mechanisms established together by NATO and the Russian Federation.
When would be the right moment to call them into action, if not NOW?
Last, but by no means least, the Paris Charter for a New Europe of November 1990 has still to fulfil its ambitious promise to create a peaceful, free and prosperous community of cooperative partners in a constructive interdependence from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
(6) Solidarity with the people in the developing countries and with the refugees everywhere.
In Germany, in Europe, in Africa and Asia, we experience today an evergrowing increase in refugee movements: with most dramatic, tragic personal consequences for the men, women and children affected.
The way we personally and our administrations receive them in our countries and, yes, also in our homes and care for them, both at the national and the European level in Brussels, is just now becoming the most pressing challenge for our societies.
The answer must be – without any delay! – a concerted, truly large-scale European response – in the spirit of solidarity and generosity, in respect of human dignity!
On the basis of these six lessons for decision- making , let me offer to you an “Agenda for Europe and for the World”.
This is no doubt quite ambitious, but not at all utopian: it is absolutely necessary!
– Global and European challenges can be only resolved together – and certainly not without Russia or even against our most important partner in Europe.
– We need a vigorous relaunch of the European Union – not sometime, but — now –, to prepare the EU in all policy fields for the future.
– The “Charter of Paris” must be fully put into practice in order to ensure a durable and cooperative future for the entire Transatlantic Area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.
– We need a fair and just “World Order for Peace” in the spirit of global neighbourhood.
– And, in the last analysis, we need a comprehensive — “Agenda for World Peace” — especially for the advancement of world-wide disarmament and arms control, with the overriding aim of pushing ahead nuclear disarmament – so urgently needed!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
globalization has transformed the world, — our– world, into a Community for Survival.
This challenge cannot be ignored and it won’t simply go away.
There is no choice : We all, as Germans, as Europeans, as citizens of the world, have to face it and to master it – together!
Let me conclude by quoting John F. Kennedy, five months before he died.
I believe his words are still relevant today: “Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.
We all breathe the same air.
We all cherish our children’s future.
And we are all mortal.”
Thank you for your patience.
I wish you a successful conference!