at the National Archives’ Commemoration of the Fifteenth Anniverary of German
Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
None of us will ever forget the great meaning and promise of that day – October 3, 1990. Secretary Rice wrote a book about it. We join all Germans in celebrating their impressive achievements over the past 15 years, as well as our close relationship and cooperation on the world stage. But we must also recall that the struggle for a united, free Germany goes back much farther.
In many ways, the history of German reunification is the history of Europe in the 20th Century – a century that began with uncertainty among European powers; the tragedy of two World Wars, including the horror of the Holocaust; the repression of Comnuism during the Cold War; and eventually, with the help of the United States and other NATO Allies over six decades, the protection of democracy that led to the unprecedented freedom and prosperity of a united Germany.
I recall that, in 1905, the Moroccan crisis was brewing between the UK, France, and Germany. One hundred years ago they were fighting for control of Europe and her colonies - today these three countries are leading the world's effort to peacefully resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.
Contrast this with the Federal Republic’s work since 1945, overcoming the burdens of past history and the Communist threat to stand fast against the Warsaw Pact and advocate a more whole, free, peaceful, united Europe. And the United States was there: Young American G.I.s served in Germany from 1945 until today through the Berlin Airlift, and with our commitment as a NATO Ally to treat an attack on Germany as an attack on the U.S.
Once divided by physical and psychological barriers, the Federal Republic of Germany has emerged as a symbol of freedom over tyranny. The accomplishments of fifteen years of unity are dramatic and inspiring.
And again, we see the United States and Germany standing side-by-side. We stand together in Germany, where the U.S. maintains troops -- no longer to protect the free part of a divided Germany within a divided Europe, but to join with Germany in helping protect a united Germany and Europe from the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
And German troops stand with us, in NATO missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and elsewhere to protect freedom inside and outside Europe.
We have a tremendous trade relationship, with Germany contributing much of the one billion dollars in goods and services that daily – daily! – move across the Atlantic.
And our people continue to look to stand together in the future, as the 900 German college students in the U.S. and the more than 4,500 U.S. college students in Germany can attest.
Germany and the U.S. have experienced some rocky times in recent years. In light of this history, we must challenge ourselves to ensure that the future of our realtionship is as strong as the past, and see our two governments work even more closely and actively together as partners.
We must do so in NATO, the indispensible foundation of transatlantic security, where we and our 24 fellow Allies meet daily to protect and promote to our values and our security. We must do so in other partnerships, such as that among the U.S., the UK, France and Germany in our vigorous effort to end Iran’s ambitions to pursure nuclear weapons.
And we must work together, both bilaterally and in the U.S. relationship with the EU collectively, to help mentor and assist Iraq, Afghanistan, and other states struggling with democratic development and integration.
As the German people once again bring a new government into office, with the kind of free and fair election that other peoples need to to see, the United States looks forward to a reinvigorated, even closer partnership. The history of the past 15 years, and the decades of U.S. help before that, teach us the value of such partnership.
Congratulations again to the German people on fifteen remarkable years of German Unity.
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Diplomatic Mission to Germany
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Updated: December 2005