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Address by Federal President Horst Köhler at the New Year Reception for the Diplomatic Corps in Schloss Bellevue

Federal President Horst Köhler during his speech Berlin, 10 January 2008 Photo: Guido Bergmann, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung (BPA) © Photo: Guido Bergmann, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung (BPA)

Nuncio, Ambassadors, Representatives of international organizations, a very warm welcome to Schloss Bellevue! I'm delighted to have you as my guests.

Here in Germany the reforms of recent years are beginning to bear fruit. Unemployment has fallen significantly, the economy is back on course. The finance minister anticipates a sustained reduction in the net borrowing requirement. We can look forward with confidence also to the year ahead.

What do we need, we may ask, to make it a good one? In her New Year's greetings for 1770 Catharina Elisabeth Goethe, the mother of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, sent her son her own recipe for a good year: "Take twelve months, thoroughly clean off any bitterness, avarice, pedantry and fear, then cut each month into 30 or 31 pieces so you have exactly the right amount for the whole year. Now prepare each day individually with one part work and two parts cheeriness and humour. Then add three rounded dessertspoons of optimism, a teaspoon of tolerance, a trace of irony and a pinch of tact."

Optimism, tolerance and tact are qualities no less important now than 200 years ago. And in our dealings with others humour, magnanimity and courage stand us just as much in good stead.

Such qualities may be even more necessary now than in the past. For in today's globalized world we are all dependent on one another.

There's no shortage of examples. Take the link between the currency reserves of some and the debts of others. Or between the CO2 emissions of the industrialized world and natural disasters such as droughts and floods in other parts of the world. The plain fact is that the nations of the world are increasingly interdependent.

When it comes to financial flows, climate change, poverty-driven migration, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, state borders are clearly irrelevant.

This high degree of interdependence between nations and peoples calls, I believe, for a new understanding of what foreign and security policy is all about. In today's world no government can safeguard any country's long-term welfare at other countries' expense. So what is really important is to seek cooperation and avoid confrontation. The new world order will be multipolar - or nothing at all.

For such a cooperative world order we need one very basic thing: trust. And as we know from experience, building trust is possible even when our partners have views and interests that differ from our own. I would go even further. It is precisely when their views and interests differ from our own that we see the value of such trust most clearly. But to build such trust we must of course respect cultural diversity, we must listen to what others have to say.

And trust has another dimension, too - our own credibility. Whatever we demand of others we must also demand of ourselves. Nowadays there's no way double standards can be concealed. In a globalized world everyone can see exactly what's going on - and tell everyone else.

The challenge now is to demonstrate that cooperation benefits everyone.

Piling up armaments, I believe, is not going to make the world a safer or more peaceful place. The best way to build trust, I believe, is disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation. We must join forces to ensure that existing control systems are strengthened, not weakened, and remain a force for stability.

Climate change - about which after the IPCC report there can be no reasonable doubt - is the clearest proof yet that a bright future for ourselves is possible only if it is a bright one for others, too.

So I very much welcome the consensus reached in Bali on a negotiating mandate for a post-2012 climate change agreement. And it is important, too, that these negotiations take place under United Nations auspices.

All the industrialized countries without exception need to realize they have a special responsiblity to cut CO2 emissions. They are by far the biggest per-capita emitters. But we know, too, that the emissions of the major emerging economies are rising dramatically. Poor countries need economic growth, of course, in order to tackle poverty. Yet as they increasingly recognize, growth at the expense of the environment and the health of their citizens is not in their own best interest.

There is now a real chance to break the link between economic growth and expanding consumption of energy and resources. I am delighted that for the first time the developing and emerging economy countries agreed in Bali to take further action to cut their own greenhouse gas emissions. For me it goes without saying that we in the industrialized countries must support them by promoting, for example, the faster and more effective transfer of energy-efficient technologies. With the eighth Millennium Development Goal the international community is, as you know, committed to developing a global partnership for development. There is certainly no lack of opportunities in the world for cooperation that benefits everyone.

Almost half the world population, nearly three billion people, eke out a living on two dollars a day or less. It is this, more than anything, that is an enduring threat to world peace and stability. The fight against poverty is clearly in all countries' interest. And on all sides it requires a readiness to embrace change. We need a development strategy for the entire planet. The Millennium Development Goals are clearly the right agenda. What is needed now is to implement it.
We need to gauge more carefully the impact of our assistance, ensure it is truly helping people to help themselves and enabling the developing countries to at last take their future into their own hands. Regrettably, there has been no progress as yet on establishing a pro-development trade system - something to which all of us are committed.

For many developing countries rising prices for commodities are a historic opportunity. But to make the most of this opportunity, the income from their sale must benefit first and foremost their own populations. For this to happen, transparency is crucial.

So on this occasion, too, I am very keen to canvass support for schemes such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or diamond and tropical timber certification. To make progress here, good governance is of course a prerequisite both in the North and the South.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to see that the reform treaty has given the stalled European project new momentum. Without the European model linking market freedoms with individual responsibility and social justice, the world would, I believe, be a poorer place.

On many important issues the reform treaty gives Europe the opportunity to speak with one voice. Germany will do all it can to ensure this opportunity is grasped. For this we already have a good basis. Europe jointly developed ambitious proposals for the climate negotiations in Bali. And we Europeans are jointly committed to building stability in the Balkans.

Also in terms of democracy the reform treaty is a milestone for the European Union. It will give the European Parliament a higher profile as guardian of the interests of Europe's citizens. The new "Citizens' Initiative" will offer citizens greater opportunities to directly influence the making of European policy. Yet the treaty also makes clear that the responsibilities, identities and cultures of European nations will remain intact. Germany for its part will always see its future in a united Europe.

To build the new, cooperative world order I have described there can be no more natural and legitimate forum than the United Nations. For me the United Nations idea is the main key to a bright future for mankind. To achieve a fair give-and-take designed to benefit everyone, we clearly need a strong and effective United Nations.

So let us take forward the reform process with new energy and purpose. It is the coherence and focus of UN policy that is at stake. Whatever the context, the triad of development, security and human rights must be viewed as a single whole and incorporated as such in all policy actions. This will only happen, however, if all countries - including the big ones - have both the will and the strength to forge a new, cooperative world order. Building a better world for us all is something that can be done.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this point I would like to thank you all very much indeed for cooperating with us to such good effect during Germany's twin EU and G8 Presidencies last year. You made an important contribution to their success. I hope you yourselves, your families and staff are enjoying your stay in our country.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful New Year.