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Statement by President Higgins following his meeting with President of Germany, H.E. Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Date: Wed 3rd Jul, 2019 | 11:00

Herr President Steinmeier, vielen Dank, míle buíochas.

President Steinmeier, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be able to respond to your invitation to make a State Visit to your country and your people. May I express my sincere thanks for the gracious hospitality you have shown to me and my wife Sabina, and to those who have travelled here with me.

Our meetings this morning, and your kind words just now, have highlighted once again the strong and enduring partnership that exists between our two countries and our peoples – a partnership based on the most fundamental of our shared European values: tolerance, respect for human rights and a commitment to multilateral cooperation and the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable models of development.

I hope that my visit over the coming days will help reinforce these shared beliefs and celebrate the valuable and abiding links between the Irish and the German people, and provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges we share, of a bilateral, European and global kind.

Our peoples, I am sure, would want us to share a consideration of how, while recognising our differences, we can work together towards achieving the best version of a shared, sustainable and inclusive European Union.

Recognising difference is a strength. I congratulate you on how you have done it.

Ireland, as an island nation, has a history of migration and interaction with cultures and influences from across the seas, and I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the achievements and the impact the Irish diaspora have had on Germany.

Germany has long occupied a position at the centre of our continent, not only geographically but also at the crossroads of the movements of people and ideas. As President of Ireland, I take pleasure in the opportunity to pay tribute to your country’s long and splendid history in this development of intellectual thought, language and music.

Your assurance of German solidarity with Ireland strikes me deeply. Yours is an expression of the very real and practical support we Irish have experienced, and so appreciate, in trying to come to terms with the potential impact of the decision by our nearest neighbours, the United Kingdom, to leave the European Union.

Ireland, like Germany, has always been proud of its own identity and at the same time proudly and profoundly European. Your words strengthen my conviction that our common European project is now more important than ever, as we require new solutions for new challenges - challenges that are shared among the nations and are of a size and importance that exceed the abilities of individual states.

The intellectual contributions of German scholars as to how we can merge national and trans-national considerations for a common Europe has been profound and helpful. The solidarity that you have offered to our island at this difficult time is deeply appreciated and must surely be the bedrock of our shared European journey.

Finally, mar fhocal scoir, may I say how much I appreciate Germany’s role in seeking an adequate European response to two of the region’s most pressing issues: the inter-related challenges of migration and the climate crisis.

I recognise, too, the challenges, including the political difficulties, that were associated to Germany welcoming those who sought refuge from conflict, oppression, violence, poverty and worsening climatic conditions.
Your steadfast support and your principled ‘fáilte’, or welcome, to those who have experienced conflict, oppression, dispossession and displacement is both a reminder of the welcome our Irish people received in other countries in times past and a key ingredient for the policies and partnerships we will need if we are to truly build a global society based on justice, equality and solidarity.

President Steinmeier,

We meet at a time of great change, and of great challenges. At times like these, it is important to be able to appreciate the great wisdom, and the painful lessons, of our shared pasts.

I thank you for your generosity and gesture of solidarity, that inviting me, as President of Ireland, reflects for giving me the opportunity of celebrating what we have learned from those who came before us, and for creating the space for us to encourage debate on the necessary actions we might take together to respond to the challenges that lie ahead.

I thank you for your leadership and for the warm hospitality you have shown us.

Arís míle buíochas is gach beannacht ort agus ar muintir na Gearmáin.