Berlin, 11 January 2024
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier welcomed more than 150 ambassadors and representatives of international organisations accredited to Germany to the traditional New Year’s reception at Schloss Bellevue.
In his address, President Steinmeier observes that 2024 “will be an important election year for many democracies – large and small, around the world.
“I would even say that 2024 will be a testing year for democracy itself. Around half of the entire world’s population will be called to the polls in 2024.”
“The citizens of the 27 EU member states will elect a new European Parliament in early summer. And I am convinced that the democracies here in Europe; also stronger than the opponents of a united Europe; also stronger than those who see a retreat into nationalism and isolationism as the panacea for global challenges.”
The president also reminded the assembled dignitaries about the power and importance of language.
“Diplomacy,” he stressed, was difficult to imagine without language.
“Finding the right words for every occasion, finding suitable words for any occasion, whether the message be candid, empathetic, or personal. Especially in times like these we need both: not just candour, but also clarification – in view of the tremendous changes taking place around the globe, in view of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the war in the Middle East, the fighting in the Sudan and Sahel and the worldwide crises we face.”
President Steinmeier reminded the diplomats that it was their job as ambassadors to create spaces for dialogue and exchange, spaces in which the international community could look for common ground.
He emphasized the need for the world to embark on a fresh, new year of dialogue.
While stressing Germany’s commitment to the State of Israel, President Steinmeier said that “the only way to have permanent peace in the Middle East is two independent states to provide for the security and future prospects of Israelis and Palestinians.”
In his telling, President Steinmeier says that “Putin wants war, not peace.”
“Germany,” he says, “is Ukraine’s second-largest supporter, and we will continue to work at European level, too, to ensure that Ukraine continues getting the support it needs.”
President Steinmeier describes climate change as “without doubt” the greatest challenge facing the world causing havoc in countries that themselves contribute least to global warming.
“Whether it be East Africa, which suffered through its worst drought in 40 years right before being hit by severe flooding; whether it be devastating forest fires that threaten Australia’s unique wildlife; or whether it be deluges of water that wash away entire towns in Europe or threaten to sink island states in the South Seas: it is only by acting together that we will be able to successfully fight climate change and mitigate the dramatic effects of global warming. Since many countries in the world share this view, new alliances are being formed that can give us hope.”
Photos By: AM/ANA & BPA