Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier prepared the people of Germany for a difficult future as a result of the Ukraine war and invoked their spirit of resistance. In a keynote speech, he called the Russian attack on Friday an "epoch break" that would force old ways of thinking to be abandoned. People would have to adapt to restrictions. However, the state will help those who cannot do it alone. The wealthy would have to make their contribution to this. Steinmeier also warned against neglecting other urgent tasks such as the fight against climate change.
Steinmeier spoke at an event with the German National Foundation at Bellevue Palace. Among the listeners were the former Federal Presidents Joachim Gauck and Christian Wulff. The media, but not the Office of the Federal President itself, had announced the 40-minute speech entitled "Strengthening everything that unites us" as a "speech to the nation". In it, Steinmeier repeatedly addressed the citizens directly with the phrase "dear compatriots".
Epoch with headwinds and rough years
The time before the Ukraine war was an "epoch with a tail wind," he said. The Germans would have benefited greatly from the peace dividend after the end of the bloc confrontation. But: "The peace dividend has been used up. An epoch against the wind is beginning for Germany." The Federal President predicted: "There are harder years, rough years ahead of us."
Ability to deal with conflict and resilience
During these years Germany could build on the power and strength that it had worked for. The country is economically strong, has good research, strong companies, an efficient state and a large and strong center in its society. Something must be added to these strengths, which have helped the country so far. "We have to be able to deal with conflict, both internally and externally. We need the will to assert ourselves and also the strength to limit ourselves." No war mentality is necessary. "But we need resilience and resilience."
Commitment to a strong Bundeswehr
First and foremost, this includes a well-equipped Bundeswehr, stressed the Federal President. Germany is the strong country in the heart of Europe and has a duty to make its contribution to the defense of the alliance. "I assure our partners: Germany accepts its responsibility, in NATO, in Europe." But the ability to deal with conflict and resilience require even more. To the extent that expectations of Germany grow, criticism of him will also increase. "We have to deal with this in an adult manner and not immediately misuse any criticism from outside as ammunition in the domestic political debate."
appeal to citizens
Steinmeier called on people in Germany to get involved and have a sense of community. "Dear compatriots, this new era challenges every individual," he said. "Perhaps you could still get through the times with a tailwind without doing a great deal yourself. Perhaps you could allow yourself to simply leave politics to others. That no longer applies today. Germany, our country, needs your will to change, needs yours Working for the community to get us where we want to be."
Germany needs "active, even resilient citizens". Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin is trying to divide Europe and is also carrying this poison into our society. "Our democracy is also part of the critical infrastructure. And it's under pressure. Only we can protect it." That requires more than just commitments from the Democrats, it requires commitment.
People would have to accept restrictions in the coming years. This may sound like mockery in the ears of those who are already struggling to make ends meet. That's why insurance is important: "Our state won't leave you alone during this time either!" Steinmeier referred to the relief packages and the planned electricity and gas price brake and demanded: "This support must now reach those affected quickly."
And the head of state of the traffic light coalition wrote something else in the family book: Wealthy and rich people now have to make their contribution in order to be able to bear the immense costs of the relief. "Impressive relief packages are important - but no less important is justice in the distribution of the burden."
"Attack on everything that we Germans stand for"
Steinmeier stressed that the Russian attack on Ukraine was an attack on the law, on the principles of non-violence and inviolable borders. "It's basically an attack on everything that we Germans stand for." So anyone who shrugs their shoulders and asks what this war has to do with us in Germany is speaking "irresponsibly, but above all oblivious to history," said the Federal President. "We as Germans in Europe cannot survive with this attitude - this attitude is wrong!" However, he did not want to dismiss the question of whether the sanctions could be abandoned. "Because the fears behind it are real."
Actions: "What would be the alternative?"
The sanctions would have costs, including for us, Steinmeier admitted. "But what would be the alternative? Watch this criminal attack without doing anything? Just carry on as if nothing had happened?" It is in Germany's interest to work with Russia's partners to counter the breach of the law. "It is in our interest that we free ourselves from dependencies on a regime that is rolling tanks against a neighboring country and using energy as a weapon. It is in our interest to protect ourselves and reduce our vulnerability."
"Climate change does not take a break from Ukraine"
Steinmeier expressed concern that the "human task" of climate change could be pushed too far into the background in view of the Ukraine war. "Climate change is not taking a break in Ukraine!" Germany is entering an age without coal, oil and gas. "In spite of all the challenges, there are also great opportunities for our country."
Confidence and vision for the future
Despite uncertain prospects for the future, the Federal President also spread confidence. Germany has the power to overcome crises. It will be up to the task if everyone sticks together and shows courage and ambition. "We are preserving our freedom, our democracy. We are making Germany a new industrial nation - a technological leader, responsible for the climate, in the heart of Europe. Networked, but less vulnerable. Well-fortified, but not warlike. An open, friendly country with more and new international partners ."
Speech by Federal President Steinmeier