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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Hans Dietrich Genscher

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1990

The Awards being conferred today are proof of a Spain that is free and alive to history, of a European Spain that is open to the world. I speak for all the Award Laureates when I say that it is a great joy for us, that we are filled with pride and that we are very grateful. I was profoundly moved by the decision to bestow the Award for Concord on the Sephardic Jews, who were forced to flee Spain over five hundred years ago and yet have kept their Spanish language right down to present times.

Conferring the Award for Concord is a European decision, for we aspire to a Europe of tolerance, a Europe where everyone can progress in peace and where minorities are protected: a fraternal Europe.

Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen:

Freedom is the driving force of history. Only freedom can heal the wounds inflicted upon our continent. Spain has led the way for Europe along this path. We Germans can learn a great deal from Spain and from its efforts towards national reconciliation.

Last year Mijail Gorbachov and Jacques Delors were given the very Award that I am so pleased to collect today as Minister for Foreign Affairs of a unified Germany. Europe has experienced such profound changes since then! The nations of our continent have recovered their own identities and, in consequence, have a deeper understanding of others.

The new, united Europe that we aspire to will be the culmination of European history. The liberation of the nations of Europe must necessarily culminate in self-awareness and self-knowledge, which inevitably leads on to the ideal of freedom in its purest form. This concept is the very essence of the European spirit. The finest minds across Europe conceived and formulated this idea as being central to the identity of European nations. Last year, its enormous capacity to bring peace and unity was demonstrated by the historic changes that have significantly altered the political boundaries in the East of our continent, and thereby in Europe as a whole. The terms "East and West" are no longer an ideological antinomy: they have recovered their original geographical meaning.

Neighbourliness, cohesion and cooperation: these are the benchmarks of the new Europe.

They will serve to build a united Europe on the foundations of freedom. The spirit of the European Community was inspired from the outset by these three guidelines.

Our German community is a blueprint for the future global Europe. It created a new culture of peaceful coexistence between two nations. In the same way, the European Community is, and will continue to be, the nucleus of pan-European unification. The more resolutely we progress along the road to Community integration, the more firmly we will establish the foundations of the future global Europe. We will take a major step in this direction with the single market. We must wholeheartedly support work to bring about economic and monetary union. As Germans, we do not want a Europe dominated by the mark. We do want to offer our economic strength and the stability of our currency to the Community and to Economic and Monetary Union, to everybody´s benefit.

Your Highness,

We Germans are now experiencing the joy of being able to live, joined in freedom, in a community of nations. This quite simply serves to strengthen the profound pro-European convictions of the Germans even more. German unity will benefit Europe. It strengthens the foundations of the shared tomorrow of all the European nations. The strength, progress and success of a single European country are a benefit to them all, just as the setbacks and difficulties of one country also affect the others.

The destinies of Europe´s nations are inextricably linked. The nations of Europe now have a single common fate. This implies in turn that the European Community should acquire pan-European duties. We should strengthen the Community, not for it to barricade itself against the outside world but instead, so that it can fulfil these duties to the best of its abilities. Now that the political and ideological walls in Europe have tumbled, we should likewise dismantle the social and economic walls that continue to separate East and West. This requires collaboration and solidarity of pan-European proportions.

Spain is a spectacular example of how much can be achieved by the spirit of cooperation and of how much impetus the spirit of participation can arouse in a nation. Spain has recovered lost ground in leaps and bounds, at a pace far in excess of what could have been first expected. The example of Spain will spur on the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe in their own efforts, which are needed for entirely different reasons. By helping our brothers in Central and Eastern Europe we are investing in our own future rather than engaging in self-sacrifice.

The major transformations in Central and Eastern Europe have also sparked a decisive change in the position of our continent as regards the issue of security. Unified Germany has made important contributions to this process. We have renounced recurring to threats and using force in any of its guises. We have renounced nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. We make no territorial claims on any other state; nor will we make any in the future. We have committed to reducing the number of armed forces in the united Germany to 370,000 men.

Naturally, the consequence of this new East-West constellation is that alliances between the East and the West will have to change both as they relate to each other and within themselves. Its member states no longer view each other as a threat but instead as equal partners in a dialogue about the future. The function of alliances no longer consists of protecting one group of states from the other, but instead of cooperating in setting up a system of pan-European security.

The democratization of Central and Eastern Europe, the opening of frontiers and the reduction of the enormous arms capabilities are all processes that have proceeded at breakneck speed and even reached fruition in the short space of a year. This has laid the foundations for confidence in future European peace. The ideal forum for this is the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, where the North American democracies have an irremissible role to play.

Under the aegis of this conference, we are going to create the first shared institutions of the new global Europe: regular meetings of the Heads of State and of Governments and a centre for conflict prevention and a secretariat led by our Ministers for Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, we fully back the idea that the process of pan-European intergration should have a parliamentary basis in the form of an assembly, for global Europe must be a democratic Europe, ruled according to the principles of parlamentarianism.

Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen,

Unified Germany is founded upon freedom and human rights, upon democracy and tolerance. Its politics are politics of responsibility, not of power. We want a European Germany rather than a German Europe. We are convinced that the best way to pursue our national interests is by defending Europe´s. Our politics hails the equal rights of large and small states alike; it aims to curb powers by transferring sovereignty to Community authorities; it recognises the interdependence of economic interests and it is fully supportive of European solidarity.

However, nor should Spain concentrate exclusively on itself. Our continent has close ties with the world as a whole, which is acknowledged here in Spain better than anywhere else.

Last year, the Nobel Prize for Literature was conferred upon a Spanish writer; this year the Nobel laureate is a great Mexican author. I am sure that all the Spanish-speaking nations are delighted about this. A Europe that closed itself off to the outside would simply be deceiving itself. Just as the unification of Germany is taking place within the framework of European integration, so also Europe´s integration proceeds within a framework of the world as a whole. This world is under threat; under the threat of war, of oppression, of underdevelopment; under the threat of overpopulation, and of degradation on a global scale of the natural bedrock of life. Confronting these dangers and challenges worldwide is one of the historic tasks that must be taken on by a Europe that is progressively coalescing. The curtailment of East-West confrontation will provide the necessary instruments, and will free the energies we need to complete these tasks to perfection.

Time is of the essence. Our commitment and duties towards a world of freedom must be set from the outset at the cornerstone of the shared home called Europe. To paraphrase Octavio Paz, I would say that, faced by silence, faced by the madding crowd, I invent the word Freedom, which, day by day, is re-created and re-creates me.

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