Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
Your Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends,
this is the fourth time, I am celebrating the anniversary (today the 28th) of Germany’s reunification with you and it is always a great pleasure for me to welcome you here in the premises of King Hussein Club. Thank you for having followed my invitation in such large numbers.
Liebe deutsche Gäste,
ich möchte Sie ganz besonders willkommen heißen. Ich bedanke mich bei dieser Gelegenheit bei allen in Jordanien vertretenen Mittlerorganisationen und deren Mitarbeitern und allen anderen hier tätigen deutschen Institutionen und den Vertrauensleuten für die gute Zusammenarbeit während des letzten Jahres. Sie tragen einen ganz wesentlichen Teil zum Ausbau unserer Beziehungen zu Jordanien bei und wir setzen auf die Fortsetzung unserer guten Kooperation mit Ihnen.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
One year ago Germany had just gone through parliamentary elections when we celebrated reunification day and we anticipated the routine formation of a coalition government. However, in the end it took us half a year to form a new government, by far the longest period of coalition negotiations in Germany since 1949.
The difficulty in forming a government was due to a trend that is not limited to Germany these days. The traditional political parties are losing parts of their core constituencies, which are drifting towards parties at the more extreme peripheries. These seem to provide easier answers to the sense of unease prevalent in our times. The traditional parties, on the other hand, seem to have lost confidence in their own classical principles and values and do not inspire voters any longer.
We are obviously at crossroads and don’t yet know which way the future will take us. While the political change that swept over Europe and the former Soviet Union in 1989, which we are celebrating today, filled peoples with hope and optimism with regard to the future, the changes we are experiencing today leave us worried and confused. Many structures that gave us support and orientation have vanished.
Multilateralism that has served the world well the last 70 years is in jeopardy, so are established political tenets. The most basic humanitarian principles are discarded with open or only thinly veiled contempt in many parts of the world. Xenophobic and discriminatory slogans we thought we would never hear again are being openly proclaimed.
Why this gloomy analysis? Because I think it compels us even more to close ranks and stand together in our fight for the supremacy of humanitarian principles, human rights and dignity of all individuals and peoples. Jordan has always spearheaded global initiatives for tolerance and dialogue, which has been reflected in the Amman Message and many other projects and initiatives, also of the civil society. We all need Jordan, particularly in this troubled part of the world to stand up together against injustice, violence, intolerance and discrimination.
The Jordanian government therefore deserves our full support. All the more since it is not only standing up for tolerance and moderation in a time when Jordan is confronted with the refugee crisis and a very difficult economic situation, aggravated by the conflicts in its immediate neighborhood, but has under these conditions embarked upon the introduction of reforms that are necessary, but not easily implemented. The Jordanian government has to strike the difficult balance between satisfying the expectations of those who feel underprivileged, limiting privileges and fighting corruption. The introduction of a new, just and balanced income tax law is a special challenge in this context.
Simultaneously the government is reforming the educational sector in order to foster competitiveness, inventiveness and independence as to make Jordan’s youth fit for confronting future challenges in a globalized and competitive world in accordance with H.M. King Abdullah’s Human Resources Development Strategy.
We fully recognize the difficult framework conditions under which these reforms evolve and appreciate the Jordanian government’s courage and unfaltering commitment to achieve progress on the path of reform. We also strongly appreciate the stance Jordan is taking with regard to the Syrian refugees under theses challenging conditions, by hosting them until they can return voluntarily and in dignity.
Germany as second largest bilateral donor supports Jordan on this path in two ways: on the one hand by helping Jordan to ease the difficult framework conditions, on the other hand by supporting Jordan’s reform process.
In the focus area of our bilateral cooperation „water and waste water management“ we are carrying out numerous successful projects through GIZ, KfW and BGR together with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, the Water Authority and the Jordan Valley Association since 60 years. GIZ also assists Jordan’s municipalities in waste management.
In education KfW supports a school construction program and has meanwhile financed the construction of 37 new schools, more to come, we expanded our rehabilitation program for schools, houses and apartments and are paying salaries for teachers and support staff in schools for Syrian refugees and Jordanians. GIZ complements these efforts with a maintenance program for schools.
Our close and trusting cooperation in the security sector has been expanded and intensified.
This ever closer and broader cooperation with Jordan is also reflected in a flow of high-ranking visits from Germany, including Federal President Steinmeier, Chancellor Merkel, Foreign Minister Maas and Defence Minister von der Leyen, as well as many Members of Parliament only within the first six months of 2018.
During her visit Chancellor Merkel committed an untied loan of 86 million € to Jordan in order to alleviate the financial pressure caused by the economic shocks and the refugee crisis.
There continues to be an intensive exchange between our two countries in the field of science, language and arts via the German Academic Exchange Service, Goethe Institute and our archeological institutes. And last not least, the beacon of our bilateral relations, the GJU, which has gone into the 13th year of its existence in 2018.
We are also pleased to observe that the number of German tourists travelling to Jordan has doubled between 2017 and 2018 and that meanwhile organized roundtrips for larger tourist groups are being offered by German tour operators.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the political field we share common ground with Jordan in our commitment to a two state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Maas have clearly repeated during their recent visits to Jordan. We value HM King Abdullah II role as custodian of the Islamic and Christian sites in Jerusalem and his efforts to protect the historic and cultural identity of the city. We also value his repeated offers for dialogue and peaceful negotiations.
We absolutely agree with the Jordanian government that sufficient funding of UNRWA is essential, because the services UNRWA offers, in particular the schools, are key to stability in this region and have to continue. Germany does not only pay lip service to this acknowledgement, but, at the sidelines of the 73rd UNGA, has just committed to top up the 81 Mio € already transmitted to UNRWA in 2018 by another 18 Mio € for this year and a larger sum is still being considered. Germany has now become second largest donor to UNRWA after the EU.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
before I end, I want to thank my team in the embassy for their dedication and commitment during the last year. Without them all the progress we made would not have been possible. I am sure that all of you who work together with my colleagues know that I do have a wonderful team! I also want to draw your attention to the Combo of the Military Music Corps Hannover who have played the national anthems and will also play the background music for us tonight. Thank you for being here. And now I invite you to enjoy the pleasurable part of the evening. Beside original German sausages we are offering you German wine and sparkling wine from Rhineland Palatinate, we have beer from Carakale, Breezen and German onion tart. Enjoy and thank you!