Today, Germans back home and across the world are celebrating the anniversary of their country’s reunification. In the fall of 1989 thousands of East Germans had taken to the streets. They demanded free elections, a democratic government and the freedom to travel, and, above all, called for a united Germany. Simple and powerful, their slogan was “Wir sind das Volk, wir sind ein Volk” - “we are the people, we are one people”. Forty years of separation had brought suffering and distress to millions of families. Now, in line with popular rebellion spreading all over the declining Soviet empire, there was space for change in East Germany. As a result, the Berlin Wall suddenly came down in November 1989. Germany was reunited eleven months later, in October1990.
Having found their national unity, Germans could finally come to peace with themselves and all their neighbors. As despotism came to its end in Central and Eastern Europe, democracy and the rule of law were installed all over the continent. 23 years later, we remain grateful to our brave fellow citizens who wrote this wonderful chapter of German history.
Living at the heart of Europe, Germans are very much aware of their responsibilities towards their European neighbors. Europe today is united in diversity, and this is what Europeans want. We acknowledge our differences within the European Union. Recent debates with regard to the appropriate way of handling excessive sovereign debt of a number of EU member states have resulted in common efforts to improve certain aspects of Europe’s still unfinished integration. Germany and her European partners have made it clear that they remain determined to further strengthen our common currency as one of the anchors of global financial stability. The foundations of the great European project remain unchanged, since they are based on common values. The new German government will continue to work for an even stronger economic and political union in Europe.
Friendship between Bangladesh and Germany was established at the early hours of Bangladesh’s independence. Germany was one of the first European countries to recognize Bangladesh as an independent nation. Our relationship has been thriving ever since. Our bilateral development cooperation is focused on the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy, good governance, rule of law and human rights. Furthermore, Germany is assisting Bangladesh in adapting to climate change and managing unregulated urbanization.
In view of Bangladesh’s high exposure to the effects of climate change, the German Embassy has recently launched two new initiatives: climate change awareness projects in cooperation with local journalists and government representatives; and a project to educate school students on the effects of climate change. We are looking forward to doing more in this important field in the near future.
Our bilateral ties are particularly strong in the field of business. In recent years Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in its economic development. As infrastructure improves, and investment conditions become more competitive, Bangladesh will be able to attract more interest among the German business community.
Germany is Bangladesh’s first trading partner within the European Union, and the second largest market for Bangladesh exports worldwide. Although our trade has diversified over the last few years, the garment sector keeps playing a dominant role. This country is the second producer of ready-made garments worldwide. There is no reason why it could not soon become the first. But numbers don’t tell the full truth – the first in quantity should also be the best in quality. Starting in 2005, GIZ, Germany’s international cooperation agency has assisted the garment sector in improving social standards. The recent Tazreen and Rana Plaza tragedies have tarnished Bangladesh’s international reputation. As a friend, Germany will continue to assist factory owners and workers alike in addressing the multiple challenges Bangladesh’s most important industry is facing. This requires courage, determination and honesty of all concerned, and there is no time to lose.
Germans and Bangladeshis can be proud of their common achievements and the strength of their bilateral relations. We will do more, and we shall try to do even better.
On the occasion of this year’s Day of German Unity, I extend my cordial greetings to the people of Bangladesh. I also greet my fellow countrymen residing in this country.
Dr. Albrecht Conze
Ambassador of the Federal Republic