60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan

2007-11-19 - Angela Merkel

Mr Holbrooke,
Mr Pearlstine,
Former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker,
Ms von Maltzahn,
Gary Smith,
Colleagues from the German Bundestag,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to be a guest of the American Academy, particularly today when we are remembering George Marshall – a gentleman of whom one can truly say: He was a foreign minister of great foresight.

In Berlin there is no shortage of interaction with the United States of America. But thanks to you – Richard Holbrooke, Norman Pearlstine und Gary Smith – the American Academy has, in the few years since its establishment in 1994, carved out a special role for itself. And I would like to express my sincere thanks for that. After all, this building has become a central forum for open debate, for open discussion on the meaning, purpose and value of transatlantic cooperation in all spheres, in all its facets, free from taboos and keenly aware that we also have to address the importance of the transatlantic relationship with coming generations.

When we talk about cooperation then we remember that that was also the very essence of the Marshall Plan. The unforgettable speech by the American Secretary of State in Harvard 60 years ago remains a beacon for the success of American policy and American values. In the summer of 1947, after the horrors of the Holocaust, after the Second World War, the whole of Europe was in ruins. Marshall realized that a major boost was needed to, and I quote from his speech, "assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace".

The Marshall Plan meant practical, material assistance from the United States of America that enabled Europe to regain its health. Yet it was also so much more. This is demonstrated on the one hand by its proper title "European Recovery Program". On the other hand, this is shown by the organization founded to implement the programme, the OEEC – "Organization for European Economic Cooperation". So, the Marshall Plan was even back then an essential step towards European cooperation.

It is worth emphasizing that it was pan-European cooperation that was intended, since Central and Eastern Europe were also to be included according to George Marshall's plan. This foresight illustrates to me his understanding that economic health, peace and security are inextricably linked not just in the post-war era. This is also our guiding principle when it comes to dealing with today's conflicts. He, too, was convinced that this can only be achieved in the long term if we have a shared European approach.

I myself would like to add that it was ultimately due to the Marshall Plan that we Germans were so quickly given the opportunity to once more become respected partners in the world. It was also due to the attitude of our American friends: to the steadfastness, the willingness to make sacrifices and to the determination in spite of everything to give Germany another chance. For this, we are grateful.

Over the years, we have time and again had good cause to show this gratitude, for example for the support during the airlift – we will commemorate the 60th anniversary next year – and not least for helping shape German unity. Many things wouldn't have been possible without our far-sighted American partners. Others believed two Germanys would be better. The Ameri­cans thought otherwise. For this, we thank you very much.

As Germans and Europeans we should always remember that European integration and the unification of our continent was possible first and foremost because America remained engaged in Europe after 1945. The Marshall Plan was a commitment to a united Europe based on freedom.

Herr von Weizsäcker, 20 years ago you gave a speech in Harvard about the Marshall Plan in which you considered the question as to the essence of the transatlantic partnership. Your response was: "It is the concept of freedom." You said back then, that it was our duty to realize this freedom as a true responsibility. I believe you were very right. Your words about freedom and responsibility which are inextricably linked are just as true today. Every gen­eration since George Marshall has in this way its own transatlantic possibilities and challenges – as Richard Holbrooke just said.

But what are the challenges after the end of the Cold War, at the start of the 21st century? The end of the Cold War was connected with what we today call globalization – triggered by technical revolutions such as data processing and the Internet. Today, we enjoy global access to information. Competition is stiffening. More and more people are sharing in economic prosperity and using their opportunities. The emerging market economies are a case in point. Even though Europe and the United States of America account for 40% of world trade today, the economies in China, India and other parts of the world are growing at a rapid pace. International capital markets are closely interlinked. There is growing demand on markets for raw materials.

Deterrence in the Cold War with clearly defined zones of interests was succeeded by a world with many centres of power – with one superpower, the United States of America, an ever more integrated Europe and growing continents on all sides. Security is at risk from new asymmetric threats, as the horrors of 9/11 so clearly demonstrated. We face terrorist attacks time and again.

Some 850 million people live in the transatlantic area. Global population will soon be 8.5 billion. At the start of the 20th century, we could just about presume that one in two people in the world were living in the transatlantic area. At the end of the 21st century, it will only be one in ten. Those who do not see that we now need to pool our strengths to pursue our interests and sustain our values have to my mind not understood the essence of the trans­atlantic relationship. That is why we should take up once more what Richard von Weizsäcker said: the idea of freedom in responsibility.

Ladies and gentlemen, here I see four spheres which I would like to touch upon this evening. Firstly, shaping our economic relations in a globalized world, secondly our shared concern for our natural sources of life, thirdly together shaping our security policy and fourthly developing a joint architecture for our world.

I am delighted that the American Academy has today brought together key figures from German and American companies, as it so often does. You all know: the United States and the European Union are the world's two largest economic areas – at least that is the situation today. I mentioned before that we account for 40% of world trade. Investments to the tune of 1.5 trillion euro mean our economies are very closely linked. Day in, day out, goods worth more than a billion euro are traded between the European Union and the United States.

I am however convinced that we have not yet fully tapped our potential here. There is more for the taking in our economic relations. If we look at what is preventing us from exploiting our full potential then to my mind it is the many barriers above all, to use the jargon, in the non-tariff field, that is concerning norms, standards, testing, licensing and accounting. Here the fundamentals we share, but the details are so different that everything has to be done twice. This costs strength, time and money. But it above all costs strength that is needed for innovation and creativity which are so important if we are to hold our own in the 21st century.

I believe a tremendous base on which to step up our bilateral economic relations is the integration of the European Union, now of course also including Central and Eastern Euro­pean countries – this we still have to learn, but at the end of the day it is wonderful that Marshall's vision of including the whole of Europe has become a reality –, guided by the so-called Lisbon Strategy, the EU's strategy to promote growth. That is why we were careful to boost transatlantic economic relations in the first half of the year during Germany's EU Presidency. I am absolutely convinced that this can be a dimension on which we can and will build.

We managed to take important steps forward. At the EU-US Summit in April, we signed a framework agreement to deepen transatlantic economic integration. One of the key points was the establishment of a Transatlantic Economic Council to steer our entire cooperation on regulation. This Council met recently for its first official meeting in Washington. There was really tangible progress by the end of the consultations, for example concerning secure trade, accounting standards and investment conditions. I hope the next meetings will also yield progress. I see potential here above all in the new spheres which are not yet subject to norms – whether nanotechnology, bio fuels or many other fields. Here we should draw up the norms together from the outset to save ourselves duplicate regulations and complicated procedures.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the business community particularly those who have been working long and hard to achieve just this in the Transatlantic Business Roundtable. I believe the combination of political efforts and preparations by the business community paid off. So much so, that even the City of London is convinced that this is a worthwhile European project which isn't something we hear that often.

Our aim of strengthening transatlantic trade – let me emphasize once more – is not directed against others. The tariff barriers we discuss in the WTO and the Doha Round. We want a successful outcome of the Doha Round – the United States and the European Union alike. Despite all the difficulties, I feel we have a real chance to move forward here.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can – I certainly believe – take the question of freedom and respon­sibility in transatlantic relations beyond the purely economic framework. We know that research, innovation and creativity are crucial if we are to maintain our prosperity – both in the United States and in Europe. If in the future our businesses will not be able to create many new products first and take the lead in innovative developments, we will not be able to main­tain our prosperity.

That is why we in the European Union decided to spend three percent of our GDP on research and development. I can also imagine the single European research area working with the Americans on a joint transatlantic research area. Many major projects cannot be realized single-handedly today. So alongside economic cooperation, we should also think about this dimension.

Ladies and gentlemen, we know all of this can only be done if we all do our homework, whether Europe, Germany or the United States of America. In Germany, we are currently engrossed in an exciting debate on what the next steps should be now that we have moved forward well on our reforms. Given the demographic situation, that for us of course means consolidating public budgets. If we up our debt year in, year out, we will have no scope to give our young people better perspectives. We have to cut non-wage labour costs and be com­petitive on corporate taxation. This is why we engaged in reform. But we have to go further and we will do. Otherwise we won't be an attractive partner for the United States of America.

A second huge field which I also see as a central priority for the transatlantic partners, is our shared concern for our natural sources of life. Not everything has been harmonized here but progress has been made. I would like to take climate policy by way of example. It is now important that we recognize this as a global challenge. But we do not yet know how to tackle this global challenge. If we work in the spirit of freedom and responsibility then – and here I am absolutely convinced – we will find the best and safest way for the transatlantic com­munity to set the direction for the world when it comes to mastering this global challenge.

It is of course crucial that we find ways of doing justice to the task on the one hand without jeopardizing our economic growth on the other. I want to repeat something here which I have said often in the past: The fact is that we don't have the choice of doing nothing or doing much, but the choice of causing major economic damage if we do nothing or acting prudently to find a better way forward with minor economic implications. I advocate acting prudently. I would go so far as to say that our acceptance in the world will very much depend on whether or not we face up to these questions.

We Europeans have made pretty ambitious proposals. But looking at the Kyoto Agreement which is not held in particularly high regard in America, we can see however that we have some catching up to do to meet its simple reduction commitments. I don't want to paper over this point which the American side keeps making. But I believe that this year we did take an important step forward during our G8 Presidency. We said: climate change is a topic we need to tackle because it is man-made. We want to manage the post-Kyoto period under the aus­pices of the United Nations.

For me it is central that the leading industrialized countries have an important role to play – not because they could combat climate change on their own, but because if they do nothing, they will not be able to convince the emerging market economies. Today, Europe has average CO2 emissions at a level of some 9 tonnes per capita per year, the USA has 20 tonnes, China 3.5 tonnes and India less than a tonne. Despite their large populations, we will certainly not be able to convince India and China to make reduction commitments if we are not in a position to shoulder ambitious reductions ourselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this example illustrates how we can use innovative technical responses to make ourselves a little less dependent on raw materials crises and other factors by cutting CO2 emissions and thereby saving fossil fuels and how we can at the same time tap export opportunities in emerging market economies which are of huge importance for our prosperity.

The threat to humanity and the threat to the natural sources of life bring me to a third sphere of challenges for the transatlantic partnership, namely to security policy in the classic sense. The security situation has changed dramatically since Cold War days. We are seeing com­pletely new conflicts. The number of nuclear states has grown – I am thinking here of India and Pakistan. The danger of nuclear proliferation has increased. We have asymmetric threats posed by transnational fundamentalist terrorism. To destroy democracy, terrorists are ready to destroy their own lives. The challenge of countering terrorism is much more difficult than the challenge of the Cold War which could be met through deterrence. We have regional conflicts which we cannot ignore in today's interwoven world – I am thinking here of Darfur and also of experiences in Rwanda. Furthermore, we have conflicts over resources which could dra­matically escalate if we fail to react.

I believe that together Europeans and Americans have a good chance of solving such prob­lems. Either going it alone is unlikely to succeed in this world. We need shared solutions. That is why we are engaged together in many arenas – here I want to be very clear: in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, with intensive diplomatic efforts in the Iranian nuclear issue and in a few days time once more on the question of how to move closer to a solution of the Middle East conflict. Together with our Foreign Minister, I have worked very hard to give the Middle East Quartet and by extension also the European Union a role once more in solving this conflict. After all, this conflict is so complicated that as broad a foundation as possible is needed to have any chance of success.

I am convinced we are strong when we act together whenever possible. That is the precept of our shared security. And this security is not divisible, but it must be defended together.

If we turn to Alliance matters, then I could perhaps point out on a day like this that despite all the hesitation in Germany we have come a long way since reunification. Germany knows that we have to take on new tasks and new duties since reunification. This is something wonderful because it means we are trusted.

If we look back for a moment as to how we – the FDP and the CDU/CSU – debated in the Federal Constitutional Court about whether boats in the Adriatic Sea could engage in observer missions and if we look at today's involvement in the Western Balkans, in Afghanistan and in UNIFIL in the Middle East, then I would say: In the span of history, 17 years are not a long time. Germany has come a long way and is now shouldering more responsibility. I am very grateful and would like at this juncture to thank our Bundeswehr soldiers for their dedication.

But let's come back to my opening thoughts. The concern for our shared security means assuming responsibility to preserve freedom. Our security and our freedom can no longer simply be protected in the Alliance area. We have to go further.

If we want a real transatlantic partnership, then we certainly have to continue to intensively discuss the basic approach. To my mind, we share the approach in the transatlantic relation­ship that military and civilian components belong together, that political, civilian and military steps should never be separated and that we must not focus solely on what is possible in military terms. There are to some degree various interpretations here, but I believe we can agree that stabilization efforts only work properly when they are rooted in a stringent political blueprint. The aim and object of the commitment has to be defined. That means prior to inter­ventions, we need to be as clear as possible about the period thereafter. Civilian components are not lower-quality measures which we have to accept. On the contrary, we ourselves must attach the same value to the work of diplomats, police officers, judges and reconstruction workers as we do to the work of soldiers. That, at least, is what I believe.

As we in the German Government say: There can be no security without reconstruction and no reconstruction without security. That is the concept of networked security. I believe this con­cept should become standard in our engagement – in Afghanistan and elsewhere. One of our major tasks as transatlantic partners is, I believe, to coordinate our military capacities – and this we are doing successfully within NATO – but also our civilian capabilities. This is some­times much more difficult because we do have very different ideas here.

I am firmly convinced that we also need to learn – and it would be worth having a transat­lantic debate here –, how the countries benefiting from our actions imagine their own futures. The example of Afghanistan makes ever plainer to me that we are going into a country which has seen a particular development which it must and wants to link back to but which may be a far cry from what we in Europe and in the United States consider normal. Before building up the police force, we have to talk to the Afghans about what ideas they have about policing if they were able to sketch out their country. This is an approach we should discuss more with one another.

Bearing in mind all the difficult challenges we face, for me, NATO remains the anchor of transatlantic security policy. NATO's task has changed since the end of the Cold War. But NATO remains the political and military Alliance which is based on shared values from which it can tap great strength.

Now European unification means that we are of course establishing and strengthening our own European security and defence structures. But these cannot be an alternative to NATO but have to be compatible with Alliance structures. That is why it is very important for us to ensure that the European Security and Defence Policy does not create competing structures as regards our commitment to NATO.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is of course true that we have some things to learn when we look soberly at the situation in Kosovo or in Afghanistan. Whenever the Europeans want to set up a police mission and want to use NATO military capacities, we seem to get embroiled in quite awkward conflicts which in part are linked to conflicts within the Member States of the respective alliances. This is a situation which we cannot accept because the tasks we face are extremely difficult. I hope that we can improve the European position with the Reform Treaty and the strengthening of the High Representative who is also responsible for European Secur­ity and Defence Policy.

I believe there are positive signals, for instance when the French President Nicolas Sarkozy says that he wants to lead his country back into NATO structures. We will support this, in the same way as we have an interest in improving efficiency in the European Security and De­fence Policy. I don't believe that we need a new theoretical superstructure but I think that we need to introduce and implement in practical terms what people actually want in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen, particularly from the perspective of the Europeans, NATO cooperation with Russia is of course especially important. The NATO-Russia Council has to be used as a political and military instrument. We have seen this more recently, for example when we spoke about missile defence structures. We need Russia – there's no two ways about it – even just looking to the conflicts in the Balkans – Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina – with all the implications they have for other countries in the region. That is why a stable partner­ship with Russia is of prime importance.

I would therefore like to say quite plainly that we have a very positive assessment of the con­sultations on missile defence systems both in the NATO-Russia Council and at the bilateral level between the United States and Russia. If we agree on cooperation, Russia can, in this post-Cold War era, move gradually closer to the role of a partner. Times have changed. But needless to say, everyone needs to be ready to adapt.

We also need each other as members of NATO, our Transatlantic Alliance, when I think of one of the most pressing concerns we share at this time: the Iranian nuclear programme. How resolute and united we are when the Iranian President makes no secret of his desire to destroy Israel will be a crucial question for our future. How resolute and united are we in our efforts to prevent Iran from engaging in a military nuclear programme? The fact that this programme is not just a threat for the region but has highly explosive force far beyond is something I am sure I do not need to stress here.

European and American partners agree. Together with Russia and with China as a veto power in the UN Security Council, we need to do all we can to ensure Tehran really fulfils the obli­gations set by the UN Security Council and suspends uranium enrichment. We want a diplo­matic solution. For precisely this reason we also have to say: The sanctions process will be continued if the conditions set for Iran are not met.

At this juncture, I would like to repeat what I said in the General Assembly of the United Nations: For me as German Chancellor, Israel's security is non-negotiable. Protecting this security is for my country a principle of state. I believe we have now reached a moment of truth when we need to show that we mean what we say. That is why we are reducing our eco­nomic engagement in Iran. I believe the process is not yet completed. We have to do all we can to ensure that trade routes do not simply take a diversion to get to Iran. So the entire inter­national community and the transatlantic Alliance need to clearly state that we have a shared vital interest in preventing Iran acquiring nuclear arms.

This brings me to my last and fourth point. Maybe it is one of the most controversial in the transatlantic relationship. Our dealings with Iran make clear once more that accepted decisions are taken in the UN Security Council, in the United Nations. The question as to how we bring about rapid decisions which are accepted the world over brings us to the question of the importance of the United Nations. I believe the UN is of decisive importance in the globalized world. The forum for decisions of the kind we have to take in connection with Iran is the United Nations.

To do justice to this task, the United Nations has to be reformed. Work on this has been going on for 25 years now – even predating the end of the Cold War. If we want this reform, particularly also a reform of the UN Security Council, it can only work if the United States of America and Europe alike have an interest in it and put the whole issue pretty high on their priority lists. I urge us to do so. If we as the transatlantic community were able to do so, it could be an important milestone on the road to a peaceful international system based on free­dom.

For sure, together we can achieve much and against one another certainly nothing. Germany is prepared, as you know, to shoulder more responsibility in the UN Security Council. But we are also prepared to talk about innovative solutions because to my mind standstill is the worst of all the possibilities.

It is my conviction that we have to bolster our concept of freedom in multilateral international structures and give it enough scope. I know this is an idea that can be assessed differently on a scale between absurdly utopian and visionary. But those who don't bother are to my mind failing the tasks of our time. Much of what those who went before believed in and worked for has now become reality. Had it not been for their efforts in the late 1940s, we wouldn't be where we are now.

That is why I would be delighted if people could say in 50 years' time: The transatlantic com­munity has rendered outstanding services to create a security architecture for a world growing ever closer together. We need standards. We need international agreements on trade, environ­mental protection, the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals to combat pov­erty, on the transparency of international financial markets and also on the protection of intel­lectual property. To my mind, there is no way round these.

We have to be clear about the relationship between the WTO, the UN, the International Mon­etary Fund and the World Bank. We can discuss this issue among the G8 partners and then pass the results to the international organizations. I want to point out that we have made a huge step forward during Germany's Presidency of the G8, although the full impact of this has yet to emerge. I mean here the permanent structured dialogue led by the OECD with the O5 countries – the emerging market economies India, China, Mexico, South Africa and Brazil. It will open the way for a new form of cooperation at international level if it is conducted well.

If we do all this then we have the chance to imprint our values on the 21st century and pave the way for the breakthrough of the concept of freedom and responsibility.

Ladies and gentlemen, we know that the friendly ties between Europe and the United States and Canada are unique and without alternative. There is no lack of shared challenges, as I have outlined. I believe they are more likely to increase than decrease. But we know: together as partners we are strong. We have seen so much good. Together we enjoy the freedom to shoulder responsibility and we have the responsibility to embrace freedom. Let us work to this end. Thank you.