Marking twenty-three years of one Germany, President Joachim Gauck emphasized German citizens’ and policymakers’ responsibilities both domestically and internationally during his speech in Stuttgart on October 3, 2013. This speech touched on topics ranging as widely as education, European integration, data privacy, and international conflicts.
Beyond individual issues, Gauck’s comments outlined the urgent need for long-term planing in the policymaking process. The president concluded his remarks by questioning whether Germany’s active engagement with its past is simply a method of avoiding international responsibility.
Our country is not an island. We should not cherish the illusion that we will be spared from political and economic, environmental and military conflicts if we do not contribute to solving them. … United and unique, on this anniversary we are taking stock. We see what we have achieved in difficult times. What we have been promised has become reality – we must believe in all of our achievements, as then we will achieve all that we believe in.
As Head of State, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany has long bore the role of reflection on the past, present, and future of German society. The first Presidents after reunification, Richard von Weizsäcker and Roman Herzog, understood this responsibility. In German Issues 10 and 18 respectively, you will find a compilation of their speeches at the time of their printing.