Greeting by Ambassador Freitag on the Day of German Unity Oct 3, 2012
Honourable Mr. Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of State Security
Honourable Ms. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology
Honourable Ms. Fatima Chohan, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs,
Honourable representatives of government institutions, of the Gauteng-Province and the City of Tshwane/Pretoria,
Honourable Ambassador Bene M’Poko, Dean and of the diplomatic corps
Distinguished representatives from the business community, and civil society,
Dear guests and friends from South Africa,
und natürlich - liebe Mitglieder der deutschen Gemeinschaft.
Allow me to first thank the MIAGI New School Jazz Band and Mr. Robert Brooks for so masterfully playing and singing the national anthem of our countries. MIAGI stands for: Music Is A Great Investment – and all 88 musicians of the MIAGI-youth orchestra and the Miagi-New School Jazz Band toured Germany this summer celebrating a tremendous success at the famous Euro-Classic Concert in Berlin. Their fine classical and swinging jazz repertoire brought audiences to their feet and to continued standing ovations. So thank you for playing for us today. We are looking forward to exciting joint performances of South African and German youth orchestras in the years to come.
My wife Chantal and I warmly welcome all of you. We would like to thank you on behalf of the entire staff of the Embassy for joining us in celebrating the 22nd anniversary of the “German Day of Unity”.
Today we pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands who peacefully marched for freedom and democracy in former East Germany and in Eastern Europe. They brought down the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain without a single shot being fired. And they paved the way for political unity not only of our nation 22 years ago - but also for democracy, freedom and unity in Europe. All this would not have been possible without the solidarity and support of all our partners, East and West, North and South - which are represented here today - and to which we will remain immensely grateful.
As the German Day of Unity is also very much a European day as well - let me emphasize Germanys unwavering and steadfast commitment to the European project. Germany will do all it takes from its side to strengthen the Euro and the EU for our common good.
Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the South African people embarked upon the last leg of their own historic mission, their miraculous walk to freedom by replacing the apartheid regime with a strong and vibrant democracy. The whole world stood by you and joined in your celebration.
Today, in the year 2012, we are still moved by the powerful images of brave civilians in the Arab world and elsewhere calling for freedom, the rule of law and legitimized and accountable government. Today, it is they who more than deserve our solidarity and wholehearted support.
Our two nations enjoy and benefit from a unique strategic partnership, one that embraces business, companies, NGOs, churches and people from all parts of society. Most of you are familiar with our strong economic relations – and we take pride in being one of the most important bilateral trading and investment partners of South Africa. Over 600 German companies in South Africa are busy producing and manufacturing, creating jobs, transferring cutting-edge knowledge and High Tech.
German Vice-Chancellor and Minister for Economy and Technology, Philipp Rösler, will arrive here tomorrow and, together with our Chamber of Trade and Industry in Johannesburg, we will look at further opportunities of value-added engineering made jointly in South Africa and Germany.
This year Germany and South Africa launched their Joint Year of Science. Education and science are what build a nation. And German companies here in South Africa invest in the most precious goods of any nation: in its people, especially in the younger generation, the South Africans of tomorrow. I invite you to visit the stands of SIEMENS and BASF on the lawn - which showcase scientific hands-on-experiments, such as the “kids-lab” and “Experimento”.
These are but a few examples of how companies pursue, to an ever greater extent, scientific education with schools, universities and other South African partners in public-private-partnerships.
It is in this spirit, that it gives me great pleasure to welcome a fabulous and most appreciated partner in our scientific cooperation, Ms. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. Thank you for your terrific support, and that of your dedicated staff, and for honouring us with your presence today. We look forward to continue our excellent and mutually beneficial teamwork with you – today, and in the future – and with the Ministry of Science and Technology.
May I also draw your attention to a fine display of visual arts this afternoon. Renowned fashion designers will display some of the fashion developed in close cooperation with textile craftsmen from rural communities in South Africa. The fashion they present fuses well-established designers with crafting communities from all nine South African provinces, hence its name: “Nine TAKES – The Fashion Fusion Project”. It is an initiative by the SA Fashion week, driven by a German-South African fashion label, and today’s show is brought to us with the generous support of GIZ.
In closing, allow me to address a few words to my German compatriots: Ich danke Ihnen allen für Ihre Ideen und Ihre Freundschaft, Ihr Engagement und Ihre wertvollen Beiträge, die sie tagtäglich in Südafrika und die deutsch-südafrikanischen Beziehungen investieren, für das Ansehen und das Vertrauen, das wir in Südafrika dank Ihres vielfältigen und erfolgreichen Einsatzes geniessen. Liebe Mitglieder der deutschen Gemeinde, die Botschaft freut sich mit Ihnen zusammenzuarbeiten, wir können zwar nicht alles erfüllen – aber lassen sie uns wissen, wenn wir Ihnen behilflich sein können, denn gemeinsam erreichen wir mehr.
There is plenty we can achieve together in order to turn common challenges into opportunities and opportunities into achievements. And so please join me - with a glass of fine German wine or a delicious beer - in toasting to German-South African partnership, to our shared European-African bonds and to comprehensive global cooperation.