Rede des Botschafters Christian Heldt anlässlich des Empfangs zum 27. Tag der Deutschen Einheit in der Vila Germia in Pristina am 02. Oktober 2017

Botschafter Christian Heldt Bild vergrößern Botschafter Christian Heldt (© Deutsche Botschaft Pristina)

--Es gilt das gesprochene Wort--

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tomorrow will mark 27 years that Germany has been peacefully reunited. This is a joyful anniversary we want to celebrate with our friends and partners here. My wife and me are truly honored and happy that so many of you followed our invitation tonight.

Meine Damen und Herren, liebe Landsleute,

meine Frau und ich freuen uns besonders, dass so viele aus der deutschen community im Kosovo heute Abend hier sind und wir gemeinsam unseren Nationalfeiertag begehen können. Unter uns sind sicherlich Mitbürger aus allen oder fast allen Bundesländern hier vertreten. Das ist ein schönes Zeichen der deutschen Einheit fern der Heimat. Herzlich willkommen Ihnen allen!

Ladies and gentlemen,

Celebrating our National Day is also a good occasion to take a step back from the hasty daily routine we share, and to reflect on our situation in more general terms. While we Germans can look back through a long history, in our present form we are a rather young state of just 27 years. These years have not been without challenges. Indeed, it proved to be much more difficult than many people expected to truly accomplish the project of German reunification beyond just legally merging two states. And the project is still ongoing.

German reunification has required accommodating a wide range of different world views, experiences and interests from both parts of Germany. We can call the German reunification a success story today because many people on many different levels in our country got involved, cooperated with each other and worked hard to achieve this goal. On the political level, people were ready to make compromises and to set aside partisan politics for the sake of this joint project, the unity of our country. But let me also be clear, this project would have failed if we hadn’t been supported by our neighbours, friends and partners, in particular within the European Union.

Kosovo is a young country as well. Next year, Kosovars can celebrate 10 years of their independence. The context of Kosovo’s independence is unique and not comparable to German reunification. The war in Kosovo only 18 years ago destroyed a lot, which needed and still needs to be rebuilt. Wounds still have to be healed on a national and regional level. Having only just arrived in Kosovo two weeks ago, I hear from so many people about the tremendous achievements since 1999 and 2008. So many people in Kosovo have been working and are working hard to build a better future based on the recent independence.

Yet, huge challenges remain to be tackled. As Federal Chancellor Merkel mentioned in her congratulatory note to Prime Minister Haradinaj on his election, Germany stands by the side of Kosovo. We want to help you build and consolidate the rule of law everywhere in Kosovo, to accompany you in the fight against corruption, to foster economic development as well as to support you in a balanced dialogue with Serbia.

From our experience in Germany, I believe that national consensus and the willingness to make compromises can help resolving such fundamental issues. After the long political deadlock, I sincerely hope that constructive political dialogue will resume and enable Kosovo to move forward on its path towards prosperity and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Europe has been Germany’s salvation after centuries of divisions with neighbours. Without the exemplary reconciliation between France and Germany after World War II, we would not stand where we stand now. It took courageous statesmen with political leadership and courage to overcome clichés of generations before. Even in these days, we see that a country deemed so powerful as Germany on its own would be a drop in the sea of globalization. Europe is hope, is a common good, reality and future especially for our young generations. And Kosovo is Europe and will be part of the Union. We are expecting you.

All these topics remain crucial in order to build a prosperous and stable country, so please be assured I want to put all my efforts into this, personally, together with my wonderful team of the Embassy, and all Germans and German institutions in this country. When signing the book of friendship before presenting my credentials to President Thaci last week, I wrote that I look forward to serving the good relations between our two countries. Like Germany in the recent past, Kosovo doesn’t stand alone today. Germany – bilaterally and within the European Union – will continue to support Kosovo on its way.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to address a few personal words to you. I mentioned that my wife and me only arrived in Kosovo two weeks ago, so I am still in a very early stage of getting to know Kosovo and its people. However, I would like to express my deep-felt gratitude for the warmhearted welcome that I have experienced in these first two weeks. Together with my wife, I am looking forward to getting to really know Kosovo and its people in the course of the next years. Faleminderit!

I can see many of you holding glasses filled with red and green drinks, which is Berliner Weisse, so I can safely assume that many of you have already figured out the theme for this year’s reception: Berlin.

Berlin is a place where the German division and the reunification were felt especially strongly, as the Berlin Wall had separated an entire city. In this regional context, Berlin is also positively associated with the initiative of the same name, which has revitalized the accession process of the 6 countries of the Western Balkans. Nowadays, Berlin represents a modern, open-minded and diverse Germany. Berlin even sends its own “ambassadors” into the world. So called “buddy bears”, which are statues of the animal on Berlin’s flag, can not only be found in the streets of Berlin, but in many countries across the globe. So far, Kosovo did not have its own buddy bear, but from now on, a buddy bear will stand in front our Embassy.

Ms. Arta Rudaku, an art student from the University of Pristina, has spent the last weeks painting the Kosovar buddy bear. Her bright and colorful design shows what a valuable resource Kosovo’s youth represents for its country. Art builds bridges, as she shows in her design of the bear, symbolically linking our two countries with buttons. And she worked so hard: Some evenings, when I returned late from official functions, Arta was still working in the improvised atelier just below the German residence. I admire the creativity and the discipline with which young people work for their endeavours in this country, young Kosovars want to fulfil their dreams. The buddy bear having become a symbol in places around the world that Berlin and Germany are not far, I hope here in Kosovo it will also not just stand physically in front of the German Embassy. I also want it to stand for the hope that especially young Kosovars get the opportunity to pursue and fulfil their dreams. We all need to support them in this. For instance I hope that Kosovar authorities will soon fulfil the remaining visa roadmap obligations so that in particular the youth will be able to travel more freely in Europe.

Now please let me introduce you to Kosovo’s buddy bear, a symbol of German-Kosovar friendship. And let’s all give a big round of applause to Arta Rudaku.

Before I now invite you to enjoy the wonderful food of Vila Germia as well as some Berlin specialties, like “Currrywurst”, I would like to express my gratitude to the sponsors of tonight’s event: Jaha Group and Baki Automobile. Without their support, this event would not have been possible.

This is also true for the Procredit Bank which has donated the price for designing the buddy bear. But not only that, Procredit has also been a huge benefactor of the Bear Sanctuary, thus supporting real bears in Kosovo

There is a very special ‘thank you’ I would equally like to dedicate to the Luftwaffenmusikkorps, whose wonderful tunes we listen to tonight. Thank you for your performance!

Last, but certainly not least, I would particularly like to express my gratitude to my great team of the German Embassy Pristina in preparing all of this, and the staff of Vila Germia for their dedication and hard work to ensure that we can spend an enjoyable evening together.

Once more, welcome, and now please raise your glasses with me to German-Kosovar friendship!