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Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1990 Mar 29 Th
Margaret Thatcher

Speech to the Konigswinter Conference

Document type: speeches
Document kind: Speech
Venue: St Catherine’s College, Cambridge
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Between 2015 and 2235. Chancellor Kohl’s speech follows MT’s.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 5866
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Civil liberties, Defence (general), Defence (arms control), Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (Central & Eastern Europe), Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

Prime Minister

Sir Oliver WrightMr Chairman, Helmut KohlHerr Bundeskanzeller, Sir David WilliamsVice-Chancellor, Master, Herr von Hase, Dinstinguished Guests.

Herr von Hase, may I thank you very much for your kind introduction, with its accurate appreciation of my character. Your years with us were a great joy to us, I remember them well. I was Minister of Education and Science at the time and we had a very warm friendship. And may I say this, if a friendship cannot stand differences, it is no friendship. Ours is, and a very warm one.

May I first welcome you warmly, Chancellor Kohl, to this dinner and to this Königswinter Conference. You come just ten days, Helmut, after the first free elections in East Germany, which produced such an outstanding victory for the Centre-Right parties. Great credit for that success is due to you and we congratulate you most warmly on your achievement.

We also thank you for your resolute determination that a united Germany must be a member of NATO, with American forces continuing to be stationed in the Federal Republic. You have consistently been a strong and loyal champion of the Atlantic Alliance.

We remember in particular your firm resolve over the stationing of Cruise and Pershing Missiles, in the face of considerable opposition, and we honour you for that as well.

We welcome you, too, as a good friend of Britain and of the British Forces in Germany. I remember very well the joint visit which you and I paid to our Forces in September 1986 when we had a shooting competition in a German Leopard and a British Challenger Tank respectively. I fired first—as usual—and to my great surprise hit the target. One of my staff told me afterwards that he too had been surprised and not a little relieved at my success and had exclaimed: “Thank God, the Prime Minister hit it” , to which one of the British Officers standing nearby rejoined: “Don't Thank God, thank the Sergeant Major.” I had already thanked God for sending the Sergeant Major.

May I also welcome the German participants in this Königswinter Conference. We are delighted to have you here in Cambridge to celebrate Königswinter's 40th Anniversary, and grateful to the Master and Fellows of St Catherine's for their hospitality. [end p1]

I understand that one of the most fascinating parts of today has been when four of our guests from East Germany spoke to you of their experiences, of their hopes and their views at first hand. I wish I had been here to hear it, and although I am going back to London tonight, I hope I might have the privilege of meeting you for a few minutes and you will tell me in summary what you told the Conference. I am sure you have profited from it, and I am sure I shall too.

Königswinter is very well known for the vigorous and lively debate, even though I have never taken part. It has played a tremendously important role in maintaining the close Anglo-German partnership at the heart of NATO and of Europe, which is essential to the success of both.

We would all, I know, particularly want to recognise and applaud the marvellous work done by Dame Lilo Milchsack, who has been a moving spirit of Konigswinter throughout all of these years.

Mr Chairman, this year's Conference is being held at the moment when the German people's aspiration for unity is soon to be realised. None of us can fail to recognise how much that means to the German people themselves—any possible doubts have been dispelled by the outcome of the East German elections. As that unity draws near, I would like for a moment to recall the very considerable part that Britain has played in it.

From very early on after the war, we concluded that a prosperous democratic Germany was essential. We promptly put in hand the process of reconstruction in the British Zone and in the first year alone, over one million tons of food was delivered from Britain, even though we ourselves were still living with food rationing.

We also, I may say, helped found a number of newspapers which are still going today, among them Die Welt and Die Zeit. I think it is called making a rod to beat your own back!

During the Berlin Blockade, the Royal Air Force flew over 60,000 sorties into Berlin delivering essential supplies. Later, in 1954, it was Britain's proposal to hold the London Conference which paved the way for the Paris Agreements and the Federal Republic's entry into NATO and the Western European Union.

We also then entered into our commitment to keep a specific and substantial number of British Forces in Germany, a commitment which we have honoured over the years, despite the heavy cost across the exchanges. The British Army of the Rhine and Royal Air Force Germany remain in the Federal Republic, the visible evidence of our commitment to Germany's defence and the defence of Western Europe as a whole.

It was NATO's staunchness in defence through the difficult years that brought about the great changes in the Soviet Union. It led them to the realisation that the [end p2] West would not be intimidated and that a policy of confrontation would gain them nothing. And it was this, combined with Mr Gorbachev 's vision and courage, which led in turn to the opening of the Berlin Wall and the opportunity for Germany to achieve its unity.

I recite these facts, Mr Chairman, because I think it important to underline that Britain, at least as much as other countries, has been instrumental in creating the conditions in which German unity could be achieved in freedom.

I am not of course suggesting that our relations with our German friends throughout those forty years have been a one-way process. The Federal Republic has been the staunchest of allies in NATO and we shall always be grateful for the strong support we received from successive German governments for our membership of the European Community.

But just as the conditions for German unification were created by the efforts and resolve of many different countries, so the consequences of that unification affect us all. We are all entitled to express our view on the implications for NATO, for the European Community, for Four Power rights and responsibilities and for Germany's neighbours and their borders. And if those view have sometimes been expressed a bit candidly, well I do not think that will come as a great surprise to anyone that I am not always the world's greatest diplomat and thank goodness for that! There are more than enough of them, and very good they are! They pick up all our mistakes and say what they thought we meant to say but did not quite, they are very good indeed. But I do insist that our problems should be rigorously thought through and considered.

Now we have established a clear framework, which we did not have before, within which those consequences will be examined and worked out. I am glad we have done that.

We have the Two Plus Four group; we have discussions in NATO and the prospect of a Foreign Ministers' Meeting; we have the meeting of the European Community Heads of Government on 28 April; and we have the firm commitment that Poland will be involved in discussions about its borders, which will be guaranteed by a legally-binding Treaty. All that is a great step forward for us all and I am very grateful to Chancellor Kohl for his cooperation.

Mr Chairman, we cannot put aside history, it would be absurd to try to do so. We must try to learn the lessons of past peace settlements. The Americans must not go home. Nor must Britain retreat from the continent. The security interests of all those concerned must be taken into account. No-one must feel threatened, humiliated or resentful. Above all, we must ensure that a Germany rooted in NATO and the European Community, content within its borders, and democratic in its government strengthens the security and the stability of Europe as a whole.

Your Conference, with its theme of “Germany and Europe—Undivided” will deal with all these issues. I shall pick out only two of them for the remainder of my remarks this evening. [end p3]

The first concerns Germany and NATO. Experience has taught us very clearly that we need the collective security which NATO provides, together with the presence of American Forces in Europe, alongside our own, to safeguard stability and security at a time of uncertainty and change.

If there had been something of that sort in the 1930s, we would never have had the Second World War. NATO has given us 40 years of peace and security and I believe we shall need it just as much in the future—irrespective of what happens to the Warsaw Pact.

That does not mean that we expect everything to go on just as before. If the Conventional Force Reduction talks in Vienna succeed, then there will be a significant reduction in the threat currently facing NATO and we shall be able to reduce conventional forces accordingly.

If in time the Soviet Union withdrew its military presence completely from Eastern Europe, then we could probably afford to reduce our ready forces even further. But these reductions must be carried out in a coordinated and disciplined way in NATO, not in some wild scramble.

As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, we may need to adapt our commitment under the Brussels Treaty so that we can make some reductions in the level of British Forces in Germany—although I believe the needs of collective defence will require us, like the United States and France, to keep sizeable forces there.

We may also need to adjust NATO's strategy in some respects. We shall not be afraid to consider these options and discuss them openly, always preserving the basic structure of NATO.

I can foresee, too, that NATO may be able to reduce further the total number of its short-range nuclear weapons in Europe—and we have already made substantial reductions in recent years. The comprehensive concept which we agreed at last year's NATO Summit set out the conditions on which these reductions could be made. But we shall need to retain adequate nuclear forces, both here in the United Kingdom and based forward on the continent of Europe, as at present.

There are therefore, I believe, three essentials for our continued security: that a united Germany should remain part of NATO; that American and other stationed forces should remain in Germany, although we hope in reduced numbers; and that NATO should continue to have nuclear weapons based in Germany.

There will of course have to be special arrangements for the territory of the GDR, and these must take account of the Soviet Union's natural security concerns. That will mean accepting that Soviet Forces will remain there for a transitional period.

But there must be no doubt that Germany will be a part of NATO, this offers the best security for Europe as a whole. Your strong and categoric assurances on that essential point, Chancellor Kohl, have been a tremendous encouragement. [end p4]

Alongside NATO, but not as an alternative to it, we need to find a way to reinforce democracy and human rights throughout Europe, while at the same time involving the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries fully in the debate on Europe's future security. We have to build a framework for the future.

We already have part of a framework in the Helsinki Agreements, and they of course have the particular advantage of bringing in fully the United States and Canada. But I believe that we must try to give them greater substance and permanence, and the time to do that is surely the forthcoming CSCE Summit, which we shall hold later this year.

I am going to set out tonight, briefly, some proposals which could make that Summit a major step towards the creation of a great alliance for democracy, which would stretch from the Atlantic to the Urals and beyond.

First, the Summit should strengthen democracy by agreeing a new provision setting out the conditions to be fulfilled for elections to be considered as truly free. Britain and the United States put forward an outline proposal, including a suggestion for independent observers, at the Paris meeting last June. We want to see a commitment to free elections become one of the new CSCE principles.

Second, we should do the same for the rule of law and human rights. The CSCE countries should set out the essential principles for a sound legal system, vital for freedom, and should all commit themselves to respect and uphold the rule of law according to those principles.

And third, we should extend political consultation through the CSCE, as a way of involving the widest possible number of countries in discussions about Europe's future. There should be meetings at the level of Foreign Ministers twice a year, and there might also be a procedure for convening extraordinary meetings in times of tension or crisis.

And fourth, we should consider giving the CSCE a conciliation role in disputes rather on the lines that GATT has in the trade field. The CSCE could offer its good offices in any dispute between two or more of its members, for instance on matters concerning minority rights.

And fifth, the Summit should add to the Helsinki principles the right to private property, the freedom to produce, buy and sell without undue government interference. These rights are fundamental to a free and prosperous society. Their importance is now acknowledged throughout Eastern Europe and private property has just been made legal in the Soviet Union. The CSCE should reflect and encourage this.

And sixth, the Summit should solemnly reaffirm the original Helsinki commitments on European borders: that frontiers are inviolable and can only be changed by peaceful means and by agreement, in accordance with international law.

And finally, the Summit should not only sign the CFE Agreement, which we hope will be ready by then, but look ahead to the next steps in arms control in Europe. [end p5]

If we can agree on these new principles and procedures, the Helsinki Accords will be strengthened for the future—and let us remember how well they have served Europe over the past fifteen years. Without them, we in the West would not have a locus to insist on observance of basic human rights in the communist countries. And those groups of courageous people who formed Helsinki Monitoring Groups to insist on respect for their rights would never have been able to play a role in East Europe's peaceful democratic revolution.

Let me stress that I do not believe that the CSCE can in any way take on a defence role. That must remain the task of NATO and the Western European Union. What it can and should do is to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and human rights. If we can get to a stage when they are practised and observed throughout Europe, that in itself will be an enormous contribution to Europe's security.

We shall be putting forward the proposals which I have made tonight more formally in the next few weeks.

Mr Chairman, I know you will be as eager as I am to hear what Chancellor Kohl has to say. May I just wish you well in your work at this Conference, held against the background of the most exciting changes since the war.

I will conclude with some words of the poet, Schiller, which describe what we all feel about the great events taking place in East Germany and in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union as a whole:

“Das Alte stürzt, es ändert sich die Zeit
Und neues Leben blüht aus den Ruinen.”

The old falls, time changes, and new life blossoms out of the ruins.

Chancellor Kohl

I would first like to thank you, Sir Oliver WrightSir Oliver, for your very kind words of welcome. I am very pleased that you quoted a newspaper that wrote well of me—it is not always the case, and I think one really has to savour each moment in such a case.

Then, I have experienced another pleasurable time, that is, that you have made me feel so welcome, Margaret (applause). Of course, I am enjoying that, every last drop! (applause)

You have already spoken a bit about our common paths, the things that we have experienced jointly and a lot of the experiences that we have shared with our colleagues, whether this was in the EEC, the Kremlin or anywhere else, but there are some very special experiences that we have shared and you mentioned this trip in a tank. I must say it was a quite unusual situation I found myself in. I did not go there expecting to have to get into a Leopard—I had already got problems getting into the turret right from the outset!—but when I had somehow or other managed to get into the turret, I cast a shy glance at the magnificent example provided by the Army of the Rhine and Margaret was on full power and if she now [end p6] says that she fired first, I did not expect it otherwise (applause) and Ladies and Gentlemen, even if I had fired the first shot, there were two German students who were doing their military service and a commander and I think they would have declared it a state secret because it would have been quite right and proper for Margaret to have fired first—and of course, she hit the target. You can imagine what would have been the case if she had not hit the target! (applause) but all of that is something that was passed on by our great teacher and many of his followers, Konrad Adenauer, that this is something that a lot of us believe when we talk about the “Fourth Reich” . Ladies and Gentlemen, we did actually learn something by the end of this century and that is one of the things.

Thank you very much for these kind words, Margaret! (applause)

Last year, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Federal Republic of Germany. On that occasion, we also recalled with gratitude the part played by those who helped us in that period of 40 years. Forty years of freedom and democracy—that is a gift for German history; that is not a matter that we take for granted. Great Britain has made a very considerable contribution to this. The stronghold of democracy had thus guaranteed our freedom. Together with the members of the Bundeswehr and other forces of the Atlantic Alliance, the British Army of the Rhine have contributed again and again to this common security and particularly at this time when the Brandenburg Gate was being opened, we did not forget who helped us with the Air Lift in Berlin—those were British soldiers, they were American soldiers, they were French soldiers and there is a monument in Berlin for that very reason, which bears the names of those who gave their lives so that for time immemorial they will be remembered, those who guaranteed our freedom by giving up their lifes.

Anglo-German friendship is deeply rooted in our centuries-old political, economic, cultural and human relations. Looking upon the changes taking place in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, throughout the world as a whole, we observe with pride that we are on the verge of attaining the goals that we have been pursuing together—we in all the democracies through the world have been working for—for many many years.

In that span of 40 years, the Königswinter Conference—which was named after that pleasant little town on the right bank of the Rhine near Bonn—has played an important role as a forum for debate among representatives of both our countries. The Königswinter Conferences have become a hallmark for the positive development of Anglo-German relations. This is to the great credit of far-sighted men and women in both countries who established this institution as the best example of cooperation. The Königswinter Conferences have fostered Anglo-German understanding as hardly any other institution has done. [end p7]

This experiment, however incredible its success, is due in no small measure to the work of three people: Sir Robert Birley, Sir Frank Roberts and not least you, Frau Lilo Milchsack. From its very inception you have been, as we say, the life and soul of Königswinter (applause). You kept this circle together (applause). That also merits our thanks and our respect in equal measure, dear lady.

These days, we are experiencing a radical change in Europe's post-war history. The dismantling of the East-West confrontation and democratic awakening in the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe offer the first realistic opportunity since the Second World War to end the division of Europe, and with it the division of Germany, by peaceful means. That division in these decades has always been a source of instability and insecurity; its termination therefore constitutes a benefit for the whole of Europe.

The threat to the Western democracies did not only come from an ideology inimical to human dignity. More than once, the confrontation—especially in Germany—assumed proportions which made it a grave danger to peace.

It was above all the people who suffered under the division of their country and under the bondage imposed upon them and it was they—the peoples of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe—who gave the decisive impetus for the breakthrough to democracy and freedom. They enforced the change in the status quo to which many of us in the West—perhaps too many—had also grown accustomed (applause).

As Germans, we can be proud that our countrymen in the GDR, through their peaceful revolution, have helped write a chapter of German and European history, a part of history which is characterised by freedom.

But we have many reasons to thank all those who have helped make this historic change possible and I name, quite consciously, first of all our friends and allies in the West, our American, our British and our French friends. They stood by us in times of danger, when the blockade, the wall and barbed wire threatened to perpetuate our country's division. In the Bonn Convention, they agreed “to cooperate to achieve, by peaceful means, their common aim of a reunified Germany enjoying a liberal-democratic constitution like that of the Federal Republic and integrated within the European Community.”

But we also thank President Mikhail Gorbachev who, in conjunction with his far-reaching domestic reforms, has guided Soviet foreign policy in a new direction. “New thinking” is now also changing Soviet policy towards Germany step by step and permits of a constructive and I hope future-oriented solution to the German question. It is therefore in our mutual interest that President Gorbachev 's domestic reform policy should prove successful.

But recent developments in the GDR would not have been possible without the example of extensive reforms by our neighbours in Hungary and in Poland; without the courageous decision of the Hungarian Government to take steps last summer which would not have been possible in the GDR; we see from this [end p8] example how very much our national destiny is closely interwoven with that of our neighbours and this is why I hope you will allow me to say at this stage that whatever may happen for reasons of economic necessity in the GDR and whatever we will have to do there, will not prevent us from making sure that the immediate neighbours such as Czechoslovakia or Poland or Hungary will also be given their help to a better future (applause).

The 18th March—that is just a few days ago—brought the first free elections in the GDR. They resulted in overwhelming victory for those who advocate freedom, democracy and a free market economy.

Our friends and partners know our unequivocal response to the question as to Germany's position in a future Europe. Forty years of the Federal Republic of Germany—that is to say, 40 years of democracy and the rule of law—allow no doubt as to where we stand today and tomorrow: on the side of freedom, at the side of our friends—and the result of the elections in the GDR are also proof that my countryfolk, our countryfolk, can regard this as proof positive.

The unification of the two German states is taking place on the basis of this right of self-determination, but it also affects the interests of all our neighbours. From the very beginning we have made sure that the process of unification should take place within a stable European framework. We intend it to stay that way. We will not present anyone with a fait accompli.

The words chanted by the people in the GDR— “We are one nation!” —made it clear right from the start what the great majority of our fellow-countrymen want: unity in freedom.

In the first few months of this year, the number of resettlers—people leaving the GDR—increased dramatically and I think this is not fully perceived. Since the beginning of January, right up to this week, there have been far more than 150,000 people who have come from the GDR to the Federal Republic. You have to try and imagine that practically speaking—that is far more than the entire population of Cambridge. These include a lot of young people, doctors, engineers, chemists, computer experts and many other skilled people, important people who are urgently required to rebuild the GDR's economy. But this exodus is not only threatening the GDR's recovery; it, of necessity, poses problems for the Federal Republic, too.

Since 18th March, the number of resettlers has dropped. I hope that there will be a positive development over the next few days and weeks. The Volkskammer will constitute itself; there will be a freely-elected government which will come together and I hope that all of these together will have a settling effect and the prospect of reunification should induce people in the GDR to stay at home and this is why we have to do a lot to make sure that their hopes are converted into deeds.

These are the reasons why, in contrast to my original 10 point plan, the events have more or less compelled us to quote figures for the confederative structure by 1991, federation 1992/93, and so on. All these have had to be shelved. We have had to respond much more quickly and in this sense I have responded by suggesting that [end p9] there should be the introduction of a monetary union, social union and so on and that by having the Deutschmark made the GDR currency, we could introduce a market economy over there. It has become an urgent need to reply to people, to their needs, and I think once the GDR government is in office we will be moving quickly right up to the summer break. I think you can imagine what that is going to mean in Germany, but we are going to have to perceive which decisions are going to be necessary for us to take and for the GDR to take.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are of course, shall we say, more domestic policy matters for Germany but nonetheless there are very important aspects which apply to all our neighbours and to the status in Europe and I would say that the coalescence of the two German states must be harmonised with the external aspects of such a process. These external aspects concern: — the rights and responsibilities of the Four Powers with regard to Berlin and Germany as a whole; — border questions; — the existing and future security structures; and — the integration of the present-day territory of the GDR into the European Community.

The initial discussions at Ottawa in accordance with the “Two plus Four” formula agreed were started by experts a few days ago. I would very much like to see these talks making speedy progress. My aim is that these discussions should be completed before the CSCE Summit at the end of this year.

Regardless of all the decisions which have to be taken internally in Germany when I was saying these related to the two German states, we will also make very sure that these aspects of external developments are constantly reviewed and are constantly harmonised with our neighbours.

Over and above that, we are ensuring that our partners in NATO and of course in the European Community are kept informed of developments and are consulted on important questions concerning them. Together, we shall have to pay special attention to ensuring that Europe's security is guaranteed in future as well. This is a long-term question of destiny, as it were, for which a spirit of partnership is particularly necessary. I know and appreciate that in this matter Britain adopts a sober and firm position and we really appreciate such reliability.

In assessing the security interests of a future Germany and all its neighbours—indeed of Europe as a whole—we proceed the following basic facts:

First: the future united Germany must not be neutralised or demilitarised. A Germany integrated in Western security policy is an essential element of European stability. [end p10]

Second: the future united Germany must therefore remain attached to the Western Alliance. Secession from NATO must not be the price for German unity. Such a policy is not acceptable to me (applause) and I would add with considerable satisfaction that the Foreign Ministers of the Czechoslovakian Republic, of Poland and of Hungary recently met in the Warsaw Pact context and they adopted a position which is in full agreement with mine.

Third: the transatlantic security link between Europe and North America continues to be of vital importance for us Germans and for Europe as a whole. Our aim must therefore be to further deepen cooperation between the various communities, the European Community and the United States in the field of foreign policy.

Fourth: for the sake of our national interest, we must not burden progress towards German unity with border questions. In 1985, I had already stated in the Bundestag: “In the areas beyond Poland's western border, Polish families live today for whom those regions have become their home in the course of two generations. We shall respect this and not question it.”

I strongly advocate that the two freely-elected German parliaments and governments issue as soon as possible—that means this year—after consultation with the appropriate bodies in the GDR, an identical declaration reaffirming the inviolability of the borders with Poland as the indispensable basis of peaceful relations in Europe (applause). This declaration should unequivocally express the idea that the all-German government and parliament immediately after unification of the two German states, will definitively settle the border question along these lines in an internationally binding treaty with the Republic of Poland.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there have been misunderstandings here and therefore I would reiterate that it is perfectly uncontentious that this sort of settlement can only be taken by an all-German sovereign state. An identical declaration by the two governments and the two parliaments I believe is politically the strongest undertaking that can be expressed by the Germans before reunification. An overwhelming majority in the two German parliaments are in favour of such an undertaking and thus there can be no doubt either about the position of a future all-German parliament and government.

The overwhelming majority of my fellow-countrymen seek definitive reconciliation with the Polish people. Lasting peace throughout Europe presupposes such reconciliation, just as the unification of Western Europe was only possible once the French and Germans had buried the hatchet and become friends after 1945.

I myself have time and again—a particular example was my policy statement on the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of war on 1 September 1989—when I recalled then on this date the unspeakable suffering which was inflicted on the Polish people by Germans. It would no doubt be beneficial—and I am sure I may say that here—for the relationship between our two peoples if what President Vaclav Havel did for Czechoslovakia could occur so that Poland were to refer with equally clear and noble [end p11] words to the injustice committed by Poles against innocent Germans and I would add that of course we as Germans are not entitled to such words and even less must we try to settle old accounts in one way or another, but I am sure that such a gesture or such words would point the way to a future in which the relationship between the Polish and German peoples is marked by a spirit of good-neighbourliness in a common Europe.

On 28 April, the Heads of State or Government of the European Community will meet in Dublin. Questions concerning the integration of the GDR into the European Community will be at the forefront of the Summit.

I strongly welcome the fact that the EC Commission, the European Parliament and the EC Council of Ministers began at an early stage to make intensive preparations for the process of German unification and its implications for the Community. I intend to ensure that my Government consults consistently and closely with all three Community organs on all essential issues, that is the EC Commission, the Parliament and the EC Council of Ministers.

A united Germany will also be a reliable member of the European Community. The larger German market then will, moreover, afford additional opportunities for all our European partners, I am not a prophet but I am certain that within five years, given the reasonable conditions which we are jointly striving to create, the disastrous effects of “Socialism in practice” will be overcome and that Thuringia, Saxony and the other states or Länder of what today is now the GDR will flourish and achieve new prosperity and that will not just benefit the Germans—it will be for the good of all of us in the Community.

I equally strongly involve myself and strive resolutely for German unity, and equally seek the seek early realisation of a European Union. Strengthening the rights of the European Parliament and expanding European political cooperation are important stages along the path to that goal. Those who want a united Germany to be firmly integrated into European structures must also logically support further progress in European unification (applause) or to put it differently, Ladies and Gentlemen, the best method of reducing existing fears about the Germans would be to completely incorporate Germany into the European Community—it is a very simple, programmatically, reproducible conclusion.

We are seeking speedy progress with a view to the completion of the Single Market by the end of 1992. We would like this year's Inter-Governmental Conference to make constructive, intensive and swift efforts so that these intensive and swift efforts will complete economic and monetary union. I am saying that quite seriously. A lot of people who talk about this are not fully aware of the range of what is necessary here. If we are going to move to a joint budgetary policy within the countries of the European Community, we are going to have to do an awful lot of work, just to quote a few examples.

At the special EC Summit in Dublin at the end of April, I shall again—I did do this with less success on 6 December in Strasbourg—propose that a further Inter- [end p12] Governmental Conference be convened this year, with a view to making faster progress towards political union.

The Treaties of Rome, Ladies and Gentlemen, were never meant primarily to create a Economic Community. The Economic Community is but a modest step on the way towards political union and this is what we must bear in mind.

We want to follow the path of German and European unification together with our British friends. For us Germans, the close relations with Britain are marked by mutual trust and have for decades been a corner-stone of our foreign policy.

In his famous speech at Zurich in September 1946—and at that time as 16/17-year-old schoolchildren we had to discuss it—Winston Churchill indicated with his vision of a “United States of Europe” a path on which, in spite of all our weakness and our difficulties, we have since jointly made considerable progress.

I am still convinced that Europe is now again standing at the crossroads of its history but in contrast to then, when we were rising from the ruins of the Second World War, there is less cause for faintheartedness and this has been proved particularly over the past year. Time is working in favour of—and not against—the cause of freedom. This perception should encourage us.

As Karl Popper explained at the end of his magnificent opus entitled “The Open Society and its Enemies” , progress towards freedom is not the outcome of anonymous historical processes. It rests exclusively “with our watchfulness, with our efforts, with the clarity of our perception of our aims and with the realism of their choice!”

I would say it quite simply: we Germans want to contribute to a future in liberty—as German Europeans and as European Germans—and if we do that together we, with our modest means, with everything else, then the 1990s must lead us into a new Millennium and this decade must become Europe's decade (applause).