By German Ambassador Hans-Christian Freiherr von Reibnitz
On the occasion of the German National Day, I am extending warmest greetings to the German community in Kuwait, to the Kuwaiti leadership and government and indeed all people of Kuwait, who so graciously extend their generous hospitality to us. The Day of German Unity has become our National Day as the single most important event in our recent history that has shaped modern Germany like no other: After decades of painful separation, East and West were finally - and peacefully - reunited under one banner.
The events leading up to it began in 1989, when the citizens of East Germany – particularly in the cities of Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin - were beginning to demand more freedom and democracy – and started peaceful weekly rallies to protest against the old regime. “Monday rallies” (as they were called) spread like wildfire and sent an incendiary message to all parts of the country. Soon after, these events culminated in a peaceful revolution that saw the foundations of the old East German state crumble in a matter of months.
Political negotiations followed and resulted in the re-unification of East and West Germany on October 3rd, 1990 –ending a dark chapter of post-war history, without a single shot fired. The miracle of peaceful reunification became possible since it was supported by our Eastern-European neighbors and by Germany‘s Western allies. We remain grateful for this to the present day. Moreover, October 3rd also stands for a new era in our international relations: Conscious of the responsibility to bring our political weight to bear in international fora, the new Germany has raised her voice to mitigate conflicts, to fight injustice and to stand up for the rule of law, to promote equality, human rights and closer cooperation worldwide.
We will not stand idly by in the face of open aggression: That is why we stand firm in the defense of Ukraine´s sovereignty against an unprovoked military aggression; and we also stood side-by-side with Kuwait in the dark hours of 1990, when faced with an invasion. It is something of an irony of fate that when Germany finally rejoiced at her reunification, Kuwait´s very existence was hanging by a thread. Both our countries have overcome their dark hours with the help of others – these historical insights are one of the sources from which our belief in solidarity and humanitarian assistance flows.
Today, Germany and Kuwait both have an uplifting new story to tell: Our friendship has stood the test of time – our understanding for each other has grown. Germany was quick to recognize Kuwait after its independence and we formalized diplomatic relations soon after in 1964. Ever since that time our relations have been going from strength to strength.- Trade is in our two nations´ DNA. First commercial links had been established long before Kuwait´s independence – especially in the automotive sector. The first Porsche car had been delivered to Kuwait in 1954 – and the legendary 911 followed ten years later.
Today, Germany is still Europe´s largest provider of quality consumer goods to Kuwait –while Kuwait is a major investor in Germany. In international fora, Germany and Kuwait have cooperated on a number of pressing issues, including on Syria and Yemen and as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in 2019. Kuwait, with its democratic traditions, has become a valued international partner in our quest for global answers to new challenges. And what about our citizens? I had the privilege to witness first-hand that, for many Kuwaitis, Germany has become a second home of choice – at least for the summer - and they are valued members of German communities there.
Against this backdrop, it is highly appropriate that both our countries are now seeking to lift relations to the next level: I am happy to note that – in May 2024 – Germany and Kuwait will be jointly commemorating 60 years of diplomatic relations – and we can proudly say: Our understanding has matured and reached strategic depths. We are now working to forge an even more strategic partnership for the future. Faced with common international challenges – from climate change and energy security to the fight against poverty and for the rule of law - there is a mutual appreciation for level-headed policy-making, worldwide humanitarian commitment and a principled approach to matters of peace and security.
On the heels of these developments, we aim to reconnect in particular the young generations of our countries. It is here where I see a big potential for cooperation in coming years. So as we celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations we can be assured that our roots are deep and our friendship enduring. I look forward to jointly commemorating our anniversary while opening new chapters for cooperation between our two peoples. I cannot close without personally extending my heartfelt gratitude to His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince as well as the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their steady and generous support for our work. I look forward to our close ties being further strengthened in the years to come.