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Current Aspects of the U.S.-German Partnership
Ambassador William R. Timken, Jr.
Mid-Atlantic Club Bonn
Bonn, February 14, 2008


Lord Mayor Dieckmann, Club President Krüger-Sprengel, members of the Mid-Atlantic Club, I am very happy to be back in Bonn. I spend at least 25 % of my time traveling in Germany. This is my fourth trip to Bonn. Last September I visited your beautiful, historic City Hall to meet with Lord Mayor Dieckmann. I remember that trip vividly, not only because of the architecture, but because we had such a good conversation about integration. I also have great memories of the grand opening of the Guggenheim Museum exhibition in Bonn in July 2006, which I attended with my wife, Sue.

On that visit back, we also had the opportunity to meet members of the Adenauer family and visit the Adenauer historic museum. So when we think of Bonn, we remember that it was here that the postwar German-American partnership was born and nurtured. That partnership was based on a friendship that extended beyond the Bonn Embassy's walls to encompass ties between millions of German and American citizens. In 1999, as part of the historic move of Germany's capital city from Bonn to Berlin, our Embassy left the building we had occupied on the banks of the Rhine River and moved to Berlin. The American Embassy in Bonn was born of war and division. Its goal from the beginning was to help restore freedom and unity to Germany and Europe. We moved because our initial mission was accomplished.

Germany and America, however, still have very important, common security goals. In fact, NATO is facing the greatest challenge in its 59-year history. The alliance that never fired a shot in the Cold War is learning on the job as we face new challenges. The Afghanistan mission is forcing changes in NATO. With each passing month, NATO allies are learning more about what it takes to wage a 21st-century counterinsurgency -- a combined civil-military effort that puts soldiers side by side with development workers, diplomats and police trainers.

As Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear once again last weekend in Munich, this requires new training, new equipment, a new doctrine and new flexibility in combining civil and military efforts in a comprehensive approach to security. We have been through times like these before. We will succeed. The security of Europe depends on success.

Historic decisions led to the development of a Europe, whole, free and at peace. Vision, leadership - and sacrifice accompanied those decisions. Think back sixty years ago to the days of the Berlin Airlift. Remember the spirit in which NATO and what was to become the European Union were born. Germany is the heart and soul of those institutions. It was around Germany's renewal that they were formed. Today we face new struggles. Fresh pages are being written in the history of the transatlantic relationship.

This year, we will be opening a new chapter in the unique story of postwar German-American cooperation. When we moved from Bonn to Berlin in 1999, we moved into temporary quarters. This spring we will be moving into a beautiful new chancery, returning to our pre-World War II location on Pariser Platz beside the Brandenburg Gate. I think of this as the closing of a cycle that extended back to the time when we were enemies at war, through the long Cold War years of division, the process of unification to the state where we are today as global partners. Our new Embassy is not just another building. It demonstrates the commitment of the United States to partnership with the nation of Germany and the people of this country.

The Grand Opening of the Embassy will be part of our official 4th of July celebration in Berlin. We will have very senior officials speaking on behalf of the United States and Germany. It will be an historic occasion. We are also working with partner organizations to support their staging of a public day-long Amerika Fest at the Brandenburg Gate on July 5. This festival will highlight the vitality of contemporary American culture, sports and entertainment. In addition, by drawing attention to such landmark events as the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, it will celebrate both the history and the future of the German-American relationship.

The official host of the planned public festival on July 5 is the Federation of German-American Clubs. The Federation was founded in the immediate post-war period. It is celebrating its own 60th anniversary this year. The Federation's ongoing dedication to dialogue and exchange sends a powerful message about the foundation and future of German- American relations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Federation of German-American Clubs, but also the network of Mid-Atlantic Clubs, for the active role organizations such as yours play in shaping German-American relations. For that reason, I believe that the opening of the new U.S. Embassy building is not only an important occasion in Berlin. All across Germany and throughout the year, we will be celebrating our partnership with a series of programs that will underscore the same fundamental theme - the enduring strength of the German-American relationship, government to government, and people to people. Increasingly, economic integration also defines our relationship. The transatlantic business community is an important element of the enduring ties between our two countries. The United States is Germany's second largest trading partner and top investment destination. More than 6,500 companies on both sides of the Atlantic fuel our trade and investment. Together, these firms provide more than 1.5 million jobs in both our countries. Our bilateral investment exceeds 230 billion Euros.

To highlight that important part of our relationship, as part of our festival year, the Embassy will be co-hosting a conference on transatlantic economic relations with the Maleki Group, the organizers of Euro Finance Week in Frankfurt. The kickoff conference, planned to take place on July 4 - the same day as the Embassy's Grand Opening, will be the first of what is intended to be an annual conference series. We will be focusing on common geopolitical challenges, energy security and financial markets and stability - issues that are important to the transatlantic business community.

Recognizing the importance of our economic relationship, Chancellor Merkel initiated the Transatlantic Economic Initiative to reduce and remove these barriers. At the U.S.-EU Summit in Washington last April, the United States and the EU agreed to a Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration. The German Federation of Industries estimates that by reducing regulatory barriers on both sides of the Atlantic, we could gain up to 3 percent growth in GDP. When you consider that the U.S and the EU account for roughly 60% of global GDP and 40% of global trade, 3 percent growth represents very significant potential gains. As a former businessman, I am sure the Chancellor is right on the mark.

The city of Bonn is a good example of successful transition and growth management. Within the last ten years, the former national capital has become a "Federal and International City." I understand that there are more jobs than when it was the seat of government. Politically, however, Bonn still plays a major national role, with six Federal Ministries and numerous regulatory agencies. Demographically, it is the only city in the state with a growing population. It retains its international importance with a large consular presence and 16 UN organizations. You, Mayor Dieckmann, and the business and community leaders have ensured that Bonn remains as vibrant a city as ever. Once again, it is a pleasure to be back.

Thank you.

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Updated: June 2008