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Remarks by Ambassador Timken at the German Marshall Fund

Berlin, December 12, 2005


(As prepared for delivery)

State Secretary Scharioth,
Craig Kennedy,
Constanze Stelzenmüller,
Alumni and friends of the German Marshall Fund,

I am very happy to be here this evening. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the board, the staff, and the members of the German Marshall Fund for the active role you all play in shaping transatlantic relations. Transatlantic relations are not just about governments talking to each other. I am convinced that a strong network of policymakers, researchers, journalists, nonprofit leaders, and business leaders is one of the cornerstones of transatlantic partnership.

Over the years, the German Marshall Fund has been instrumental in building that network of people and organizations. I am especially appreciative of the ongoing efforts of the German Marshall Fund to educate the next generation of American and European leaders on the importance of the transatlantic relationship and to encourage them to work together on a broad range of international and domestic policy challenges.

I am also convinced that, as Karen Donfried, GMF's Director for Policy Programs in Washington, recently told the congressional House Committee on International Relations, "more unites us than divides us." In fact, I would say "far more" unites us.

This is indeed what Sue and I have learned since we arrived in Germany almost 4 months ago. We have talked to many interesting and generous people in our travels throughout this country. We have met people from all levels of German society and from all walks of life. As a result of all these meetings with government officials and regular citizens, I know that the German-American relationship is vital, healthy, and strong.

The ties that bind Americans and Europeans are not just connections based on political and economic interests; they are also ties that connect us in the most personal way. Europe remains central not just to American foreign policy and trade, but to our very idea of who we are. As we all know, a large percentage of us Americans have European ancestry including my wife and myself.

Hurricane Katrina, like 9/11, showed that we don't just share interests. There is a people-to-people solidarity across the Atlantic that the toughest disagreements not break. I like the way President Bush put it back in February in his speech in Brussels. He said: Quote. "The alliance of Europe and North America is the main pillar of our security. Our trade is one of the engines of the world's economy. Our example of economic and political freedom gives hope to millions. Our strong friendship is essential to peace and prosperity across the globe - and no temporary debate, no passing disagreement, no power on earth will ever divide us." End quote.

Secretary of State Rice's trip to Berlin earlier this week highlighted the importance of the German-American element of the transatlantic partnership.
Secretary Rice met with Chancellor Merkel and members of her administration to discuss ways to build on and continue the excellent cooperation the United States has had in a variety of different areas with Germany. I was with the Secretary during these discussions. I flew back to Washington to take part in meetings with Foreign Minister Steinmeier at the Department of State. My colleagues at the Embassy and I also took part in the meetings that Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick had in Berlin just before Secretary Rice's visit.

All of those meetings were constructive and open dialogues. As Secretary Rice said in the press conference with Chancellor Merkel, it is important and indeed proper in democracies that when issues come up that they are debated. It is also proper that friends be able to talk about issues of concern.

Let me also say that in all these meetings, there was agreement on the broad agenda of issues and challenges that the world faces. These challenges include:
* Combating terrorism.
* Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
* Spreading democracy and freedom around the world, including to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.
* Supporting the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state.
* Contributing to effective international organizations.
* Taking practical steps to protect the global environment.
* Promoting trade, growth and employment in the global economy. The World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting that starts tomorrow in Hong Kong offers a concrete chance to boost prosperity worldwide and create greater dynamism, whether in the developing world, emerging market economies, or in the industrialized countries such as the U.S. and Germany.

I am convinced that the U.S. and Europe, with Germany at its core, are indispensable to each other if these daunting challenges are to be met. We can work together as partners to make the world more democratic and prosperous.
We were happy to see in the final coalition agreement between the CDU and the SPD, the transatlantic relationship characterized as a strong partnership -- not a strategic counterweight.

We were also happy to see that the promotion of a better understanding of the United States in the German public and a better understanding of Europe and Germany in the United States was also written into the coalition agreement. That is a pretty good endorsement of what the German Marshall Fund is all about.

For 33 years, the German Marshall Fund in Germany, especially through its grants and fellowships, has been an active participant in this process.

The bottom line is that we are allies, not adversaries. We may sometimes disagree, but those disagreements should not prevent us from carrying out the critical work we have to do. We have responsibilities to assume and issues that face us around the world; we're going to be more effective if we work together. Let's work together as we have in the past, to meet today's challenges.


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Updated: April 2006