Speeches, etc.

Margaret Thatcher

Speech at dinner following Anglo-German Summit

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Palais Schaumburg, Bonn
Source: Thatcher Archive: speaking text
Editorial comments: MT spoke before dinner.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1043
Themes: Commonwealth (South Africa), Conservatism, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Energy, Trade, Foreign policy (Africa), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

Chancellor Kohl, Ministers, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First let me thank you for your hospitality this evening and for acting as host to this Anglo-German Summit.

It comes just a few months after the triumphantly successful state visit of President von Weizsäcker to Britain. [end p1]

We remember in particular his wonderful speech to Members of both Houses of Parliament in the historic surroundings of the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster.

It was full of wisdom, and of historical sense, original thoughts and memorable phrases. [end p2]

He reminded us that each country has to be true to itself, that “a good European need not be a poor patriot.”

He reminded us of our responsibility towards the peoples of Eastern Europe.

He spoke of the friendship between Britain and Germany, developed without fanfare and headlines, and our partnership [end p3] based on frankness and trust.

Helmut KohlMr. Chancellor, that frankness and trust characterises our regular Summits.

This is the seventh such meeting we have held since you became Chancellor—and we both look forward to many more.

[Of course I have been around a little longer than you. [end p4]

And when I had to go into hospital recently, I was intrigued to read that one newspaper put it down to metal fatigue.]

I am struck once again this time by the very similar way our two Governments approach the problems we both face.

Indeed, listening to our Ministers report their discussions at the plenary session earlier this evening, I see only one [end p5] threat to our regular summits: that we shall find ourselves in such total agreement there will be nothing more to talk about.

(But then of course our diplomats would be unemployed, and that would never do).

Now of course this happy similarity of views is not just a matter of chance.

It comes about because Helmut Kohlyou and I, and our [end p6] respective governments, share very similar goals.

The following three sentences may have been omitted.

We believe that the individual must have the greatest possible freedom

— freedom of choice,

— freedom to spend what he earns as he likes,

— freedom to provide for his family and their education and their health in the way he thinks best. [end p7]

We don't want Government to tell him what to do.

Of course with freedom comes responsibility; but people are happier when they are left to take responsibility for themselves and their families, than when the State tries to take that responsibility away from them. [end p8]

That similarity of approach and philosophy carries over into our attitude to world problems. And it explains why our Governments have been able to work so successfully together at Economic Summits and within the European Community.

We are neither of us prepared to be steam-rollered into actions which we regard as fundamentally ill-judged and [end p9] counter-productive such as comprehensive trade and economic sanctions against South Africa.

Nor do we bend to the gusts of fashion in public opinion on issues such as nuclear power, when it is clear that the long term interests of our peoples require such power and cannot be met without it.

(And I pay tribute to your role in promoting the conference on international [end p10] cooperation on nuclear safety which will be held later this month.)

Nor are we ready to succumb to Soviet propaganda aimed at detaching Europe from its fundamental alliance with the United States.

We are both committed absolutely to that Alliance.

This does not mean any lack of readiness to negotiate on arms control. [end p11]

We both want to see an early Summit between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev.

And we would both like to see security achieved at a lower level of weaponry.

But we are not prepared to have negotiations just for their own sake, which would be used to erode the will of our people to defend themselves. [end p12]

I recall the story of the Western visitor to a Soviet zoo who was very impressed to find a wolf lying down with a lamb, with a sign above them extolling this example of peaceful coexistence.

He asked the keeper how this miracle could be achieved in the Soviet Union.

“Its perfectly simple if you have a fresh lamb every morning” he replied. [end p13]

No, Helmut KohlMr. Chancellor, our two countries are not prepared to be intimidated nor duped out of our determination to defend our people. If I might use an old Berlin expression: “uns kann keiner” .

I pay tribute, Mr. Chancellor, to the tremendous leadership which you have shown in standing up for a strong defence.

Your record is second to none and has, [end p14] with the success of your economic policies, earned Germany still greater respect and admiration in the world.

I emphasise defence and deterrence because, as you all know, the Chancellor and I will be visiting British troops in Germany tomorrow.

I am not sure when such a joint visit last took place: if there is a precedent, it [end p15] must go back many years.

We shall have a joint press conference tomorrow, and I do not need to say tonight what I shall want to say then.

But I have no doubt that this time tomorrow we shall be looking back on a great deal that we shall have seen and can both be proud of: the quality of the troops and their equipment, and the closeness of their cooperation with their [end p16] German comrades in arms: the spirit of the officers and men, and the warmth of relations between them and the German communities in which they live.

I wonder if the security partnership of two countries in Europe has ever been closer in time of peace than ours is now.

Mr. Chancellor, I understand that you have recently been commemorating the 200th Anniversary [end p17] of the death of Frederick the Great.

He was much admired in Britain: so much indeed that a lot of public houses were renamed “The King of Prussia” in his honour!

Which goes to show that in Britain, when you really appreciate something, you drink to it. [end p18]

May I ask you all to drink a toast to the health of the Federal Chancellor, to the cooperation between our two governments, to the success of our visit to the British Forces tomorrow and to our next meeting in this circle in Britain in 1987.