Almost three decades ago, we celebrated German reunification and the end of the division of Europe into East and West. To this day, people all over the world are moved when they recall how this separation was overcome. We look back with gratitude at this historic opportunity and at the politicians who laid the foundations for reunification at the time – Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl, who died this year.
This development was preceded by years of détente policies by then Federal Chancellor Willy Brandt, in which it had proved possible to achieve change through rapprochement despite the great differences between the systems. Germany’s endeavours on behalf of European integration, reconciliation with its neighbouring countries and the rejection of nationalistic delusions of power created the framework for German unity.
Following German reunification and the wave of democracy and the rule of law that reached many countries in the world at the time, we now find ourselves in an era in which opposing interests are coming to the fore once again. Global challenges have increased further in recent years. Geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, migration and refugee flows, poverty, hunger, epidemics and advancing climate change pose great tasks for societies worldwide.
We are still seeking what Willy Brandt called “global governance”, that is, a policy characterised by global justice, the strength of the law and the overcoming of national borders. In recent decades, the global community has made significant progress. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a milestone for the international community, serving both as a mandate and a promise. Global challenges, such as climate change with its dramatic consequences including droughts and floods, can only be overcome if we work together and as equal partners. Pacifying regional conflicts and crises is also a global task. Stabilisation and development create opportunities for people’s lives.
No country in the world can solve the international problems facing us on its own. None of these problems can be tackled by isolation. Instead, what we need are strong partners. In view of its own history and its experiences as regards overcoming tyranny and establishing and consolidating a democratic state founded on the rule of law, our country is facing up to these challenges. Germany is willing to shoulder international responsibility. That is why it is applying for a non‑permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the 2019/20 term. We live in times of great challenges, and solving them will decide the future of humankind and the planet. At the same time, we live in a world of wide-ranging new opportunities, which we should shape actively. The Day of German Unity is a good occasion to remind ourselves of this.