A Cornerstone for Europe

Ceremony marks 15 years of the German-Czech Fund for the Future and the German-Czech Discussion Forum

14/05/2013 | 17:30 - 19:00 | Parlamentarischen Gesellschaft | Invitation only

Speech

Category: Czech Republic, Bilateral Relations

In a ceremony, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, alongside representatives of the bilateral project, acknowledged the connections between the two countries. Since the German-Czech Declaration was signed in 1997 considerable progress has been made. Members of the younger generation presented their cross-border projects and, in doing so, showed how much headway has been made in promoting relations between the two neighbors.

Dirk Enters

German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg: “We learned our lesson.”

Both President Lammert and Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg highlighted the many achievements made in recent years by Czech and German associations. The current cooperative projects have done much to help assuage the painful past between the two countries.

A new chapter in German-Czech relations was opened in 1997, with the establishment of a “Fund for the Future” (Zukunftsfund) charged with sponsoring a host of projects in order to encourage reconciliation and cooperation. “This historic act of clearing away [the past] was accomplished impressively and laid a cornerstone for Europe as we know it today,” the Czech foreign minister stated.

Several people who had initiated exemplary projects reported at the event on the successes of their work on both sides of the border. Members of the German-Czech Discussion Forum described the occasionally difficult but ultimately successful process of establishing dialogue between the two countries. According to Lammert, cooperative work in today’s united Europe is possible on an entirely new level “because we learned our lesson.” Felix Kolmer, the vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee and a survivor of the Holocaust, impressively called on the audience to consider the extent of the journey both countries took in order to reach this point.

The German-Czech Fund for the Future and the Discussion Forum began their activities in 1998 as the direct result of the German-Czech Declaration on Mutual Relations and their Further Development, which called them into being. The government of both countries charged the Fund and Forum with improving and building on relations between the two countries, which had been deeply scarred by events of the twentieth century. The Fund for the Future has since then financed around 7,500 joint projects. The Discussion Forum has contributed substantially to initiating a broad public dialogue.

The event, held at the German Parliamentary Association, was hosted by the German-Czech Fund for the Future together with the DGAP, which has for many years organized the conferences of the German-Czech Discussion Forum in Germany. It was conducted under the auspices of Miroslava Němcová, president of the lower house of the Czech parliament, and Norbert Lammert, president of the German Bundestag, and moderated by Gereon Schuch, head of the DGAP’s Center for Central and Eastern Europe.

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