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The Transatlantic Partnership Remarks by Ambassador Coats at the University of Cologne Convocation Ceremony

Cologne, October 13, 2004


Fall convocation is a university’s opportunity to set academic and professional goals. Rector Küpper, I appreciate your invitation to join you the faculty and students of the University of Cologne this evening as you reflect on the academic year ahead.

Convocation is also a time to honor accomplishments and achievements. I congratulate the scholars and students who have been recognized here today.
Today, more than ever before, we are all students of the world we live in. There are many challenges of a global nature that are common to all of our countries -- infectious diseases, democratic and economic development, climate and natural disasters, and security issues such as terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These challenges are major elements of a global 21st century agenda, and must be addressed by the community of world nations.

Our universities, in Germany and the United States, are the basic source of the new knowledge that drives, nourishes, and constantly refreshes the innovation and technology of our Information Age. Science doesn't have a country. It doesn't have any borders. International education and cooperation promotes the free exchange of ideas, allows us to seek joint solutions to problems, and helps create lasting partnerships to meet our shared concerns.
Both our nations have enjoyed a long tradition of cooperation and dialogue between American and German students and educators, and have learned a great deal from each other. In preparing for this event, I counted at least 12 American universities with which the University of Cologne maintains relations. Those kinds of relationships create win-win situations -- for both Germany and America. Partnerships built upon the free exchange of people and ideas have been essential to building that foundation for innovation, discovery, and development.

Partnerships based on exchange and dialogue also strengthen the bonds between nations. It would be impossible to describe the past half-century of German-American relations without talking about the person-to-person foundation of the partnership. Since the end of World II, thousands of American and German students and scholars have taken advantage of exchange opportunities. Rector Küpper was one of those students. Secretary of State Powell talks often about how much he learned on another kind of exchange program – as a young soldier in Germany. He was one of more than 13 million American soldiers and their families that have lived and served in Germany since the end of the war. Marsha and I are latecomers, but living and working overseas for the past three years have been an invaluable experience for us. It has broadened our horizons tremendously and we have witnessed first-hand this unique relationship.
I can think of no better example of the new generation of transatlantic citizens that came of age in the second half of the twentieth century than Baron Alfred von Oppenheim, the University of Cologne’s newest honorary Senator. Baron von Oppenheim, congratulations on your receipt of a most prestigious and deserved honor.

Baron von Oppenheim was an exchange student in the United States – at Amherst and at Harvard. And by marrying an American bride, he found another way to learn about American culture, and Baron and Jeanne are one of the finest examples of a transatlantic bond ever established. Each has made extraordinary contributions to our two nations.

Publicly and privately, Baron von Oppenheim personifies civic commitment, responsible citizenship, and self-reliance, as well as a special mix of passion and pragmatism – a mix that was basic to the perception of democratic society that fueled both Germany’s recovery and the transatlantic partnership in the postwar years. It is worth emulating today. The U.S. and Germany share a most unique post-war relationship, a common heritage and values, as well as a special responsibility to partner together to address the challenges of the 21st century. That applies to governments working together as well as universities, businesses, institutions -- and people.

Baron von Oppenheim, I would like to express my personal appreciation and gratitude for your openness to some new ideas for exchange programs that the Embassy has developed. With your help, we have sent a number of teachers from the “neue Bundeslaender” on trips to the United States where they have had a chance to visit and work along-side American teachers. Teachers have told us how these trips have changed their attitudes on teaching about the U.S. I appreciate your support because I feel quite strongly that "people to people" exchange programs take on increased significance in the globalized, interdependent, information-based world in which we live.

At the dawn of the new century, we find ourselves living in an age of unprecedented promise made possible by political liberty and free markets, technology and trade, and peaceful relations among the great powers. But we also learned of new problems and escalating dangers, with new global security challenges.

Our common task now is to build a new strategic agenda centered on the 21st century challenges facing both Europe and the United States. The agenda must be flexible enough to address the issues of concern to individual countries, while setting workable and realistic multilateral goals. While the transatlantic agenda must focus on the ever-deeper integration of our societies, we must also touch on issues that go beyond the continents of Europe and North America. The future of U.S.-EU cooperation -- and German-American relations -- depends, to a very large degree, on the extent to which we can develop and realize a new common agenda for the 21st century.

The series of summits that took place this past June focused on these broad sets of issues. These summits are important. The decisions that are made on both sides of the Atlantic over the next five years, and the differences of opinion that are worked out along the way -- in and beyond Iraq -- will leave Europe and its relations with the United States, as well as the EU and NATO, either much more cohesive and stronger or more divided and weaker.

G8 in Sea Island
The first in the triumvirate of June summits was the G8 at Sea Island, Georgia. This year a record 16 documents covering 10 separate issue areas were issued.

Numerous initiatives aimed at political reform, poverty reduction, expanding capabilities for peace support operations, and disease eradication were launched. The centerpiece for the Sea Island Summit was the Broader Middle East and North Africa initiative. The initiative is a recognition that change is taking place in the Middle East and that it is in the interest of the G8 to help the forces of change. The G8 leaders called for the creation of a Forum for the Future to serve as a framework for ongoing discussions between governmental, private sector and civil society leaders from G8 and Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Just before the G8 opened in Sea Island, the UNSC agreed on a new resolution on Iraq. That resolution returned sovereignty to the Iraqi people, recognized the Iraqi Interim Government, and provided the basis for a political transformation in Iraq. We disagreed with Germany on the right course of action in Iraq last year. However, we now, as Chancellor Schroeder has said, have a common interest in success in Iraq. Failure in the region is not an option for Europe or for the United States.

U.S.-EU Summit in Ireland
The U.S.-EU Summit in Ireland picked up on many G8 themes and initiatives. Both sides expressed their commitment to support the people of Iraq. President Bush and his European counterparts echoed G8 support for transformation of the broader Middle East, although each side highlighted its own specific initiatives, rather than undertaking any joint efforts.

Homeland security and economic issues were also main themes of the U.S.-EU Summit. Progress was made to ensure complementary efforts at what might be called "transatlantic homeland security,” and leaders agreed to a road map for EU-U.S. cooperation on a number of economic initiatives.

NATO Summit in Istanbul
The Istanbul Summit was the final meeting in June’s “traveling summit roadshow.” It was the first NATO Summit with the seven new members that joined earlier in the spring. In Istanbul, NATO leaders affirmed decisions to address the major security issues of our time, including the global war on terror, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the dangers of failed or rogue states. With the defense of Europe no longer its primary task, NATO is transforming into a military alliance that can effectively operate in “out-of-area” environments. NATO is currently assuming a larger role in Afghanistan, as well as a major training role in Iraq.

But significant obstacles will have to be addressed if NATO is to be the viable institution we need it to be. A serious capabilities gap exists between the integrated military capabilities of the U.S., Great Britain, and France, as opposed to other NATO nations, including Germany. In addition, some NATO nations have placed so many restrictions on their troops’ activities that operating as an integrated force is nearly impossible. For example, Germany’s prohibitions against any Bundeswehr troops in Iraq for any reason whatsoever, severely hinders the NATO effort to train Iraqi troops in Iraq to provide security for the Iraqi people against insurgents and terrorists. Thus, “no German boots on the ground” prohibits key German military officers currently assigned to NATO headquarters from engaging in the effort that will hasten Iraqi self-governance and self-determination.

Last month in his speech to the UN General Assembly, President Bush discussed the great possibilities of our time to improve health, expand prosperity, and extend freedom in our world. His proposals built in part on decisions that were made at this triumvirate of summits held last June.

These initiatives must be driven by the pursuit of foreign policies that address the threats to world peace and prosperity. Consensus on the threats facing us, agreement on strategies to address these threats, and united action to execute the strategies offer the best hope for success. The transatlantic alliance has risen to major challenges before, and it must be our goal to ensure that it will do so again. Failure is not an option.
Rector Küpper, thank you for the invitation to deliver this convocation address. As our two great nations continue to build strong relations between our two respective governments, I encourage you, your faculty, and all of the students here to commit yourselves to building strong relationships through the various exchange programs. Partnerships built upon the free exchange of people and ideas will continue to be essential to building the foundation for innovation, discovery and development. These relationships should be a guide and a challenge to us all.

Baron von Oppenheim, it has been my and Marsha’s great pleasure to be here and to congratulate you on this deserved and most appropriate award. Your life and commitment to all you do stands in testament to German excellence. My hope is that every student and faculty member here is inspired by your life and sees the impact of what one man can do. The world needs more people like you. Germany and America need more people like you. Thank you.

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U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany/Public Affairs/Information Resource Centers 
Updated: February 2005