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U.S. - German Ties: Common Values, New Challenges

Ambassador Daniel R. Coats
United States Embassy, Berlin

Headquarters, DaimlerChrysler Services, Berlin
October 12, 2001


I am deeply honored that you have invited me to speak to you today. It was a great privilege when the President of the United States George Bush asked me to serve as United States Ambassador to Germany.

As you can no doubt imagine, I would have much preferred to deliver my first public policy-related speech under happier and different circumstances. The tragedy that occurred September 11 has had -- and will continue to have -- far-reaching effects on our lives and our work.

I had been told before I left the U.S. that we would be warmly welcomed, but I could not have imagined the outpouring of sympathy, friendship, and solidarity with the United States that we were privileged to witness during our very first week here in Germany. I had the humbling experience of being able to join the entire leadership of your country at the Brandenburg Gate, stand in front of 200,000 Berliners, and tell them just how grateful we Americans were for the sympathy and support you provided.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the honor today of passing on a personal message to you from President Bush to the people of Germany and to the Government. The President's message to you is as follows:

"On behalf of the American people, I thank Germany for its outpouring of support following the terrorist attacks on September 11. America will never forget the 200,000 Germans who came to the Brandenburg Gate to express their sorrow and solidarity, nor will we forget the expressions of support by the many thousands of other Germans, in all parts of the country, who stood with us in this difficult time. And we will not forget the assistance the German Government has given to America, and continues to give, in our common effort to bring to justice the perpetrators of the terrible acts of September 11 and to end the scourge of terrorism.

America knows that it can rely on its German friends. Our common democratic traditions, our strong friendship, and our human and material resources make our close partnership one of the world's chief instruments for achieving lasting peace and prosperity in Europe and beyond. We are now joined in a struggle of historic importance. At stake is not just America's freedom and security. This is civilization's struggle. It is the struggle of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom. We will persevere together. Peace and freedom will prevail.

George W. Bush"

Until very recently, some in Europe and elsewhere were questioning whether America and Europe still held dear the same values and ideals, suggesting that America was drifting away from Europe. They were concerned that the focus of America's commercial and strategic interests was shifting elsewhere -- to Asia, or to Latin America. They called into question America's continued commitment to fundamental ideals, wondered about American neo-isolationism, and perceived an America that was less dedicated to international institutions and international law than to the unilateralist pursuit of American interests around the globe.

That debate is over.

It has collapsed along with a million tons of steel and glass. In its place, we embrace a renewed commitment to the eternal core of transatlantic solidarity; to the permanence of German-American friendship. Our relationship of trust, shared values, and affection has been nourished and comforted beneath a blanket of flowers covering the street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin by schoolchildren's letters and stuffed animals, by condolences too numerous to count, and the unqualified cooperation, commitment and solidarity of the German government and the German people.

We do have issues to discuss, and I will mention some of them this afternoon. But no disagreement about details will again obscure the heart and spirit of our friendship. No particular policy dispute is strong enough to cloud the core truth. We do have a common purpose and we do share common values, among which are respect for all human life, ensuring the safety and security of our people, upholding the rule of law, advancing the cause of freedom and democracy. These values will continue to provide the organizing principle for our common activities. We will again, together, overcome obstacles and, together make this new century one of hope, progress, and benefit for all mankind.

What is the initial result from the shock and horror of September 11th? It is that the basic foundations of our society remain strong ... it is the courage and heroic efforts of our people when faced with terror and adversity ... the compassion and support for the victims, care for the wounded, support for family and friends ... it is the resolve that justice will prevail and that the scourge of terrorism will be eliminated. And I can unequivocally state today the re-affirmation of the strong bond of connections between Germans and Americans, built on a bedrock of immutable democratic values.

But another result is that we must acknowledge and accept that our world has changed. America has certainly changed. Not since our Civil War has there been such international violence of such a scale on American soil. Some have long thought the Americans naïve, living in a dream world removed from its harsher realities. If that was so, we have been harshly awakened. We now face a calculating, well-financed, and well-organized mortal threat. It is a threat with roots in dozens of countries, a threat to our safety and security, and our belief in our institutions and the values that underpin them. It is also a threat to all civilized nations, because terrorism is an evil that knows no boundaries.

And so we must respond. As President Bush has said, our response will be deliberate and careful. It will be varied, both focused and broad. And it will transform the framework of international relations, opening new doors, but also imposing a new standard of behavior on all States who, as the President has said, either "will be with us or with the terrorists."

This new dimension of global affairs is indeed a profound change that will bring new stresses on us all. We are called upon to cope with this change at the very moment when the stress of coping with other changes has already distorted our dialogue. In recent years we have been talking about many forces of change, not always finding agreement. The challenges of economic globalization; social and economic modernization; reshaping the transatlantic partnership; German national interests and self confidence; the future of Europe; the European Security and Defense Identity; the Common Foreign and Security Policy; missile defense; trade disputes, and yes, values. I think our discussions will now take place in a new, and a different context. It is a context that will be shaped by the far-flung, intense international effort to combat the international terrorist threat. All those subjects and more will be fundamentally transformed by this new common task.

Does it make sense then to review our policy agenda as it looks at this early moment when current events are compelling a redefinition? In the face of tragedy, one runs the risk of appearing banal or even petty by discussing the old issues in the old way. Perhaps Airbus financing or GMO corn are subjects for another moment. But even now, as we respond to one disaster and anticipate possible future threats, our life together must go on. There are issues of great importance to our age that, although affected by our campaign against terrorism, otherwise have significant impact on our future.

First I'd like to return to what I believe is the bedrock subject of shared values.

Shared Values

As I stand before you this afternoon, almost precisely at what was "ground zero" during the decades of East-West confrontation, I cannot help but be conscious of the historic events that have unfolded here in Europe over the past decades. The transformation from a Europe of confrontation to a Europe of cooperation and integration was a stunning development. I know you share our desire that this transformation will prove to be irrevocable and permanent.

During that Cold War era, our joint efforts to build democracy, security and prosperity took place against the backdrop of an overwhelming ideological and military threat from the Warsaw Pact countries. As such, the East-West conflict became a defining characteristic of relations between Atlantic nations -- and especially between the United States and Germany.

Throughout those long years of darkness, the U.S. and Germany stood together -- most visibly right here in Berlin -- in defense of freedom and justice for all Europeans. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the culmination of those efforts, ushered in a new and promising era in which the United States again stood firmly by Germany's side as it worked to overcome the half-century division, not only of its own country, but also of Europe.

We Americans never doubted that a free and united Germany would once again assume its rightful place in the community of democracies. Our investment in the reestablishment of a free Germany began with the Marshall Plan, and continued through the Berlin Airlift and the tension-filled years of the Cold War. Our unwavering support for Germany was perhaps most in evidence at the time of German reunification, when -- unlike some who cast doubts on the wisdom of a rapid and full unification process -- we wholeheartedly and energetically supported you.

Our confidence in Germany was, and is, rooted in the conviction that the German people share the same values as we do, the people of the United States.

During those long years of East-West confrontation and hostility, the commonality of our values was readily apparent. It was clear to all that the Allied nations on both sides of the Atlantic shared a common commitment to freedom -- freedom of ideas and expression, freedom of markets and commerce, freedom for citizens to shape their lives and their destinies as they desired. No one questioned our resolve to defend human rights and human dignity throughout the world.

These common values and ideals were clearly contrasted to those of our adversaries. It was a stark contrast. Indeed, in no other place on earth was the contrast as crystal clear as it was here in Berlin, where barbed wire, guard dogs and killing zones separated East Berliners from their free neighbors in the West.

The United States was founded on the basis of ideals and principles. Our Founding Fathers looked to the ideas of the European Enlightenment in shaping their vision of a nation far different from most of the autocratic, authoritarian regimes that existed in the late eighteenth century. While we have grown over the years from a fledgling democracy into a world power, our leaders have continued to be guided by ideals, and by idealism, in their dealings with our own citizens and with the rest of the world.

This does not mean that America's leaders and lawmakers do not pursue American interests, for they most certainly do, as do the leaders and governments of countries throughout the world. Those interests are complex, and are shaped and influenced by a host of various factors and considerations.

What I would suggest, however, is that America's national interests still reflect, and are still guided by, America's national values. I would further suggest that these values are broadly shared by democracies throughout the world in which free men and women believe and hold dear.

These shared values include the conviction that individual liberty is the cornerstone of society, and that effective, fair democracy is -- by far -- the most desirable form of government.

In regards to Europe, I believe that we have a common vision. In the years since the end of the artificial division of Europe, we have made huge strides in realizing that vision -- a vision of a Europe at peace, a Europe of free ideas and dynamic market economies -- throughout the Atlantic community.

The new, grave challenges we now face show that, while much has been accomplished, we still have much to do.

It is now painfully clear to all that the end of the Cold War did not mean the "end of history," as some predicted. And, as we have seen, it did not mean the end of our need to remain vigilant about our collective defense. A decade after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, we are still faced with important security challenges, the nature of which has changed dramatically. On September 11 we had an eyewitness view of the terrifying shape this new threat has taken. It is therefore incumbent on the United States, Germany and indeed all countries to continue to focus on current and future threats.

End of the Cold War

While this new era that was ushered in by the end of the Cold War has presented all of us with new challenges, at the same time, the new situation offers us new opportunities in the context of a vastly transformed Continent. One effect of the end to the division of Europe has been an eastward shift in the Continent's center of gravity. Germany is no longer on the periphery, but now finds itself in the center of Europe.

Germany is once again poised to be the crossroads between what was the old East and West, as well as a force for greater European unity and integration.

Germany adapted exceedingly well to the changed realities of the European continent. More than any other country in Europe, Germany strengthened its international position in the aftermath of the Cold War. Germany, at the center of Europe, is a driving force for continued European integration and for the export of democracy and stability in those parts of central and eastern Europe where democratic institutions have not yet taken root firmly.

The common ideals of which I have spoken make it easy for us to cooperate. Over the years, Germany became -- and has remained -- a trusted friend. No one in Washington has any doubts about this fact -- Germany is one of America's key allies and partners. Germany's own support for the transatlantic partnership and the Atlantic Alliance is firm and is time-tested -- Americans remain convinced of this fact.

Today, Germany and the United States cooperate on a multitude of issues at all levels. In NATO, Germany functions as the principal bridge to the newest members of the Alliance: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Germany plays a pivotal role in the Alliance's initiatives in the Balkans, as it does in our efforts to develop deeper dialogue with Russia, Ukraine and other successor states of the former Soviet Union.

Cooperation on Other Global Issues

One of the things that has struck me in the weeks since my arrival in Germany is how closely we work together in confronting the most difficult trans-border issues of our time. Of these, terrorism is obviously first in everyone's mind today. The support we have received from Germany, both in the context of NATO councils and bilaterally, has been unequivocal and complete.

But, although terrorism is our number one challenge, there are other areas in which we cooperate closely and effectively, such as in combating organized crime, or preventing the spread of narcotics and trafficking in persons. The importance that we attach to this aspect of our relationship is evidenced by the large number of U.S. law enforcement agencies represented in Germany, including the FBI, U.S. Customs, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Secret Service, and our Internal Revenue Service. A productive working relationship between these agencies and their German counterparts is our most effective response to the increasingly international dimension of organized criminal activity.

During my term here I hope to further promote this aspect of our relationship. In this regard, I am anxious to promote an even closer law enforcement collaboration in policing Internet crime, a growing threat to the development of electronic commerce in both our countries. And I trust that in the near future our countries can successfully conclude our negotiations on a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, thereby filling a long-standing gap in our trans-Atlantic law enforcement framework.

Balkan Peacekeeping

Another example of our common ideals being transformed into common action to preserve peace and stability is the work that German, American and other Allied forces are performing in the Balkans. Over the past decade, in Bosnia, Kosovo and now in Macedonia, our challenge has been to promote security in the Balkans. And despite the dire predictions of skeptics, the Alliance has succeeded.

There is no greater demonstration of our common resolve than committing our soldiers to a perilous task. Whether it is to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, or to bring the parties in Macedonia to the point where they can reach political solutions, or in combating terrorism, it is imperative that we have the military capabilities to match our policy. And more important, that we have the political will to use that military force when necessary.

NATO Enlargement

While the events of September 11 may turn out to have been a seminal moment for the evolution of NATO, it was clear even before the terrorist attacks that the nature of the NATO Alliance was changing, that NATO was adapting to new conditions, new realities. One important manifestation of the way NATO is changing is the expansion of its membership. At the 2002 Summit in Prague, NATO will take another momentous decision on inviting new members. This important step will demonstrate that NATO is not willing to rest on its laurels and accomplishments of the last half-century, but is actively pursuing the expansion of European security and stability.

At the 1998 Madrid Summit, NATO invited Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the Alliance and share in the benefits and responsibilities of collective security. The United States has not forgotten that Germany was one of the staunchest supporters of NATO expansion. And the German arguments about extending stability to the East and solidifying budding democracies by enlarging the Alliance remain as irrefutable now as they were in the deliberations that led to the Madrid decision.

We have seen the fruits of the first round of NATO expansion, and the contributions that have been made by new Allies to our common security. We have also seen the important role which NATO membership plays as part of the foundation of still-developing political structures and policies. As we prepare to extend invitations to other countries, it is important for us to remember that we do so for the benefit of the current and new members of this Alliance.

Not all applicant states may be ready for membership at this time. That makes it all the more critical that we assess all the applicant states based on their merits. We may have different yardsticks to judge whether an applicant state is ready to contribute as an Alliance member. However, it is essential that these are the yardsticks decided upon by the sovereign members of the Alliance, and not imposed by any other party. And finally, for those applicant states who are not yet ready, and do not receive an invitation at Prague, we must make clear to them that the answer from NATO is not "no." Rather, it is "not yet, but hopefully soon."

Missile Defense

Given the priority focus on the response to the global terrorist threat, the debate on missile defense has been temporarily set side. Allow me, however, to briefly address this important issue. While there has been much debate about the need for such a defensive system, or its feasibility, we must recognize that the global strategic situation has changed from the Cold War, and new means of dealing with that situation must be found.

Despite our best efforts, the know-how for production of weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical, biological or nuclear, has continued to spread. We have seen all too graphically what harm can be caused to innocent people by evil men with no regard for the sanctity of human life. Using what we would call "conventional" weapons, terrorists were able to end the lives of thousands of people from 80 nations around the world. The death toll in a terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction will be cataclysmically higher.

In light of this, the United States remains committed to an effective, limited missile defense system, developed in cooperation with our NATO allies and others, including Russia. While a number of questions have been raised about the viability of such a system, it is important to understand that Missile Defense should be viewed within the larger context of defense against weapons of mass destruction, as one in a list of efforts to provide for homeland defense, including: (1) de-nuclearization and destruction of weapons of mass destruction at their source, for example the Nunn/Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program; (2) export controls, border security and other non-proliferation efforts will play a role; (3) civil defense against terrorist attacks with biological or chemical agents and the distinct possibility of fairly dramatic reductions in strategic offensive arms as proposed by President Bush in his meeting with President Putin in July are all elements of the large context in which we must view missile defense.

Under the CTR Program, 5,600 Russian nuclear warheads have been separated from their missiles. Some warheads are in storage and some have already been eliminated. A total of 420 million dollars has been appropriated this year alone to continue this process. And although the START II Treaty has not been ratified, with CTR money, the Russians are proceeding with eliminations as though it were in force.

It is this broader approach, then, that we hope will frame the future debate on Missile Defense and the new 21st century threats that we all face.

Economic Cooperation

Allow me to talk for just a moment about the U.S.-German economic relationship.

Our shared interest in market-oriented economics and liberal international trade make the United States and Germany natural partners, and -- now more than ever -- the world needs our joint leadership on important new economic problems of today and tomorrow. It is by now quite clear that one of the aims of the attacks on September 11 was to deliver a blow to the world's financial markets and economic framework, with the hope of bringing the international economy to its knees.

We will not and must not allow this to happen. Rather, we must resolve to increase our cooperation, both bilaterally and in the many multilateral organizations in which we are both members. We need to restore the confidence of consumers and investors in response to the current economic slowdown, even as we continue our ongoing efforts to deal with longer-term issues such as adjusting to a global economy, educating our labor force for new demands, balancing growth and environmental concerns, and sustaining public support for trade liberalization. In all these areas neither side has all the answers, but we can learn much from each other.

The United States has responded aggressively to the current slowdown with both monetary and fiscal stimulus. Deregulatory actions by successive Administrations are helping markets respond to changing conditions, while still providing a strong social safety net. Cutting our deficit and public debt levels during the good years has helped create the fiscal space we are now utilizing to boost growth.

As one of the world's largest economies, Germany also has a special responsibility to contribute to global growth. Our common interests are clear because economics is not a zero-sum game. Germany gains from faster U.S. growth and the U.S. gains from faster German growth. Given our interest in your prosperity, the United States follows closely the economic policy debates in Germany and the unique and evolving European institutional context. Monetary policy has been housed at the EU level, where Germany has just one vote among twelve. EU commitments also limit fiscal options, though the broad consolidation course has been sound and will, we believe, bring medium- and long-term benefits.

Germany has perhaps the greatest leeway for independent action on structural policies, and here there is much scope for pro-growth initiatives, in areas like labor market policies, continued deregulation, trade liberalization, reducing subsidies, and support for future-oriented sectors such as biotechnology.

One urgent area where the United States and Germany need to cooperate is in a successful launch of a new round of global trade liberalization negotiations at the WTO Trade Ministerial next month in Doha. Especially at this time of global economic uncertainty and challenge from terrorists, it is critical for the international community to show unity in support of a positive, future-oriented trade agenda. It is no accident that the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Trade promotes growth and helps alleviate poverty, but it is about more than economic efficiency. It also promotes the democratic values at the heart of our joint struggle against terrorism. The United States and the European Union have been cooperating closely on the agenda for a new trade round to be launched in Doha. I hope we can count on German support in the final weeks to maintain this momentum and finalize agreement on a successful launch.

These are all areas where expanded U.S.-German cooperation would be good for both countries and have positive effects on the rest of the world. I intend to do what I can to contribute to our joint effort to build on the existing foundation of U.S.-German cooperation to expand our economic cooperation. But in addition, at this moment in particular, we look to demonstrate not just bilateral cooperation, but shared leadership, especially on global economic reform and recovery. As the second-largest exporter in the world, and the largest economy in Europe, Germany cannot be just one voice among many; Germany and the United States must together be leading voices in forging the path to economic rebound.

Environmental Issues

One issue that has been a shared concern for many years, but is growing in importance, is the environment. The U.S. and Germany share the same objectives but sometimes favor different approaches. One of my key challenges is to help insure that the strong U.S. commitment to a healthy environment is better understood here in Germany.

I can assure you we take the issue of climate change very seriously and share the international community's desire to see appropriate and timely action. President Bush has indicated that the United States will address this problem in a serious, sensible and science-based manner. We will encourage research breakthroughs that lead to technological innovation and take advantage of the power of markets.

While we do not intend to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which we hold to be ineffective, unfair and unaffordable, we do intend to continue to be a constructive and active party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In furtherance of the objectives of the Framework Convention, we are moving actively to enhance global understanding of the science of climate change. The United States already leads the world in the field of climate science. We provide more resources for scientific research in this area than any other country -- $18 billion since 1990.

The United States is also acting swiftly to develop innovative clean technologies to address climate change, as envisioned by the Framework Convention. The President has pledged to strengthen basic research and to help finance demonstration projects of advanced clean energy technologies in developing countries. President Bush's Western Hemisphere Initiative --enhancing climate change cooperation in the Americas and elsewhere -- will also strengthen implementation of the Framework Convention commitments, as will our $1 billion contribution for climate change assistance to developing countries over the past five years. Despite our differences over the Kyoto Protocol, the United States takes the issue of climate change seriously and we will not abdicate our responsibilities.

Labor and Social Affairs

As we enter a new millennium, Germany and the U.S. face some remarkably similar challenges to some of the basic pillars of our society and to our economic structures. Changing demographic profiles require us to rethink the way that we organize and provide for the needs of our citizens. Pension systems, health care and health insurance systems must be reformed to deal with an aging, and in Germany, declining population. We need to prepare our workforce to deal with new technologies, and to provide opportunities for immigration that will simultaneously benefit our societies and those from other countries who seek a new career and a new life in Germany or in the United States.

I believe that our two countries, our two societies, can learn a great deal from each other in these and other important areas that directly affect the quality of life of our citizens. It is my goal to ensure that there is a lively and effective dialogue on these issues, so that new ideas, successful programs and best practices are shared and made to benefit both of our countries.


In conclusion, let me state that looking to the future, it is clear that the continuing challenges we face, as well as a wide array of new challenges, will place demands on us. The global fight against terrorism will require both resources and resolve. Regional crises will continue to demand our attention and effort. The nations of Eastern Europe will seek real assurances that they too will fully participate in European peace and prosperity. The changing demands of the global economy will require flexible and creative responses from our governments and from our private sectors.

The transatlantic agenda thus remains a full one. The challenges we face today may be difficult -- some would say unprecedented -- but they can be overcome. A wise American once said that "courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air." These words were spoken many years ago by John Quincy Adams. He is best known as the sixth President of the United States, and as the first son of a former president to himself go on to hold that high office. But less well known is the fact that John Quincy Adams was one of my predecessors here in Germany. In 1797 he arrived here as America's first envoy to Prussia and to the German States.

In closing, let me note that I look forward to getting to know Germany and the German people better, and to working together with you to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world. The complexity of the challenges that we face today may be difficult -- but they can be and they will be overcome.

Our President closes his addresses to the American public with the words "May God bless America." I would like to close this address to the German public with this phrase, "May God bless America, may God bless Germany, and may God's light shine upon us all. "

Thank you.

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U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany /Public Affairs/ Information Resource Centers 
Updated: October 2001