On 3 October, we commemorate the 31st German National Day. To Germans, this day marks the end of a more than four decades-long division. Today, we celebrate a peaceful reunification of our country in the middle of a united Europe.
If we think back to 30 years ago, nobody in Germany, Europe, or the world was imagining or expecting the reunification of Germany. No one was prepared for such a dramatic event at the heart of Europe. And yet, on November 9, 1989, the people of East Germany tore down the wall which had separated Germany. Not a single shot was fired. The unbelievable happened. Peacefully!
After dividing Germany and Europe for 40 years, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Two Plus Four Agreement signed in September 1990, paved the way for October 3, 1990, the day when the two German states were officially unified. It was achieved on the one hand by calls from the people for change and on the other hand by diplomatic negotiations. It was thanks to the trust and support of our neighbors and partners that Germany’s path of fortune was possible.
This very emotional experience was one of the reasons I became a diplomat and a very optimistic person, no matter how steep the challenges are. For me the most important lesson from Germany’s reunification is: Never stop believing in the impossible. In today’s times of global political, economic and personal hardship, an optimistic outlook is more important than ever.
The song “wind of change” by the SCORPIONS, stands for a strong and powerful feeling of unity and created the spirit in Germany for a peaceful transition. This was not always easy. The process of ensuring political, social and economic reunification and reuniting two parts of a long-divided people, entailed challenges that last until today. Today we know: Times of change can be positive opportunities. That is why I am particularly happy to become the new German Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in times of economic and social changes. Germany will be a reliable partner on this path of transformation.
The relations between Saudi Arabia and Germany are built on a very solid foundation. We have almost 100 years of experience in our bilateral relations. As member states of the G20, we work closely in several fields, including economics and politics. We share common political interests, such as peace, stability and prosperity, or the fight against terrorism. Saudi Arabia dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic in an exemplary way. I look forward to taking our bilateral relationship to a higher level now that vaccinations will allow for more face-to-face interactions.
A very important pillar of our cooperation is the German Saudi economic relations. There are more than 800 German companies operating in the Kingdom and supporting the diversification of the Saudi economy, in particular in the implementation of the Vision 2030 goals. Germany is among the top five key trading partners to the Kingdom. GESALO, the German Saudi Liaison Office for Economic Affairs in the Kingdom, is a key partner of the German Embassy. GESALO accelerates the economic cooperation by supporting German companies wishing to enter the Saudi Market to find business opportunities.
A milestone of our close cooperation is the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of green hydrogen in March 2021. Global warming is one of the greatest long-term perils humankind is facing, and our two nations are working closely together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the diversification of Saudi Arabia’s industry.
To us, people of Saudi Arabia are not just very good business partners; they are also good friends. For this reason, another main pillar of our cooperation is the cultural relations. I welcome that culture is at the very heart of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Although cultural exchange has been particularly challenging during the pandemic, the sheer number of diverse projects being jointly undertaken at the moment is a testimony to the long and lasting friendship. Saudi artists are participating in German art residency programs and exhibit their artwork in German galleries. German artists will be part of the Tuwaiq International Sculpture Symposium, the Biennale and the upcoming Mdl Beast musical festival. We are also happy to support young emerging Saudi painters to turn their talents into a profession by promoting them on our social media. And we are planning more events to come: concerts with German and Saudi artists, cooperation with German museums or the fostering of the activities of the German Archaeological Institute in Saudi Arabia.
In the field of education, a shining example of German-Saudi cooperation can be found in the specialist medical training of Saudi doctors at the prestigious Charité hospital in Berlin. The program entered its seventh year in September 2021. Also the Goethe-Institute has a record number of German learning students and is just starting its cultural program. Being Ambassador of the country of the FC Bayern or Borussia Dortmund, I am particularly proud that Monika Staab from Germany is the first coach of the female Saudi National football team.