Kohl hopes for reconciliation in North as Germany celebrates sixth year of unity

 

THE German Chancellor, Dr Helmut Kohl, urged Ireland to be in at the start of European Monetary Union in his address to the Dail.

Dr Kohl spoke of the cultural and historical links be tween Ireland and Germany, and expressed the hope that progress would be made in bringing reconciliation to Northern Ireland.

The following is a translation of his address:

"I THANK you all very much for your warm welcome. I look on it as a great honour to be invited to address the Irish parliament today. Let me add also how much we Germans appreciate the friendship and sympathy we experience when visiting your beautiful country or, indeed, whenever people from our two, countries encounter one another.

Ladies and gentlemen, yesterday President Robinson and I, together with the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, opened the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year the fair, the biggest of its kind in, the world, has chosen Ireland as, bits theme, yet another instance of the special interest Ireland evokes: in my country. Ireland's writers, the lays of the bards and the ballads, all have a unique place in Europe's cultural heritage.

With towering figures such as Sean O'Casey, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, your country has made an amazing contribution to world literature. Equally compelling is the power of Irish poetry; witness the famous line "a terrible beauty is born" in the poem by William Butler Yeats.

It was another celebrated Irishman, George Bernard Shaw, who once wrote that wisdom lies above all in taking responsibility for the future. Awareness of a common destiny and a common responsibility for the future springs also, I believe, from the remembered experience of past sufferings.

Who can say how many Irish people were forced to leave their homes, their country, for distant shores? Scarcely any other country in Europe has suffered a comparable loss. Today we have jointly committed ourselves to ensuring that never again will people have to abandon the home and country they love.

Let us build a Europe in which our children and children's children can grow up in peace, freedom and prosperity. We Germans hope with all our hearts that, despite all the difficulties, progress in bringing reconciliation to Northern Ireland can be achieved. What is at stake are the values which Daniel O'Connell spent his life promoting by nonviolent means peace and respect for human dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Irish friends and partners you and your fellow citizens. Real friendship and humanity, it is said, show themselves in their true light in times of trouble.

Following the end of the second World War, our Irish friends were swift to come to our aid. Germany lay devastated, hunger and misery were everywhere. Millions of refugees were on the move, looking for some place to go.

In those troubled times, the Irish people, even though for many it was hard enough to make ends meet, without hesitation took into their hearts and homes hundreds of German children who would otherwise have gone hungry.

The Irish people gave with generosity - per capita, more than any other nation - to relieve the suffering in Germany. We Germans are keenly aware how many people - both here and elsewhere in the world stood by us in our hour of need.

I have visited Ireland already a number of times but this is the first official visit to Ireland by the federal chancellor of a united Germany. Tomorrow, we Germans will be celebrating the sixth anniversary of German unity. For us, this was the most joyous moment of our recent history.

Germany was reunited, in peace and freedom, with the approval of all its neighbours, partners and friends in Europe and throughout the world. Ireland the Irish people, joined with us at that moment to share our joy.

From the outset, your country gave Germany unstinting support on the road to unity. During the first six months of 1990, when Ireland held the Community presidency, you were instrumental in ensuring the smooth integration of the territory of the former GDR - now the new Lander into the European Community.

Today - six years on we have made good progress in giving inner depth and substance to our new found unity. Much will still need time, in some areas we still need to grow together, but with confidence and, above all, with patience we will get there in the end.

Konrad Adenauer once said that German unity and European unification were two sides of the same coin. This tenet remains the guiding principle of German policy. If, at the end of a century which has seen so much war and human suffering, we Europeans today talk of building a common European house, this must surely count as an outstanding success story.

Thanks to European integration, what was once enmity was succeeded by rapprochement, cooperation and ultimately friendship. Peace, freedom, democracy and human rights, but also stability and prosperity, are the foundations on which the new post war Europe was built.

At all times Ireland has been our true and steadfast friend. And, since Ireland's accession to the European Community in 1973, this friendship has taken on a new and distinctive quality.

The Irish have always been convinced Europeans. Indeed, they confirmed this in two referendums by an overwhelming majority. Similarly, Ireland has played an important part in enabling us to go so far along the road to European union, also by its presidencies. I recall particularly the EC summit here in Dublin in 1990 which laid the groundwork for everything we subsequently agreed to in the Treaty of Maastricht.

Ireland is a country with a wealth of connections, not only on the other side of the Atlantic but in other continents, too. I am thinking here of the many millions of people all over the world - in Australia and Canada and, above all, in the United States who take pride in their Irish descent. This serves - in political but still more in human terms - as a kind of glue, if you like, binding the Old World to the New.

For us Europeans, there are now far reaching decisions to be taken, decisions which will define the shape of Europe in the 21st century. I am confident that the Irish Presidency will enable us to make substantial progress here. As far as monetary union is concerned, a clear and encouraging signal was sent by the EU finance ministers meeting in Dublin just a few days ago when they agreed in principle on a stability pact.

We want and need a single currency in order to secure Europe's economic future and, above all, in order to create new jobs. In this we shall only succeed if monetary union is at the same time a union for stability. That is why the stability criteria cannot be tampered with.

The same goes for the timetable; it makes for a healthy pressure. I greatly appreciate Ireland's extraordinary and successful efforts in this context. The current dynamic performance of the Irish economy is acclaimed throughout Europe. The German government, too, has staked out the course for EMU. I would be very pleased if Ireland could, right from the start, join in this ground breaking venture.

A further important issue is the Inter Governmental Conference to revise the Treaty of Maastricht. In three days' time, the heads of state and government will be convening here in Dublin for a special summit to discuss these matters. What we need to do is ensure that the enlarged European Union of the future remains capable of effective action. We want to bring the Union closer to its citizens, to make it more transparent and democratic. I am very glad that on many of the proposed reforms Ireland and Germany share the same or similar views.

A third great challenge facing us is the planned enlargement of the European Union to embrace the countries of central and eastern Europe. Especially for us Germans, it is inconceivable that Poland's western frontier should ultimately remain the European Union's eastern border.

Enlargement is, notwithstanding all the institutional and economic challenges, not only a historic and moral obligation; it is also in all our interests - political, economic and cultural - that Warsaw, Budapest and Prague are just as much an integral part of Europe as Berlin, Paris and Dublin.

Ireland's voice in the context of European cultures is one that would be sorely missed. Albeit small in size, this country on the western periphery of Europe has bade a great and lasting impact on our continent. Already in the earliest times Ireland had developed a rich culture of its own whose influence was to spread throughout Europe. From the seventh century onwards, Irish monks left their chapels and monasteries to bring Christianity also to Germany.

Europe's spiritual roots owe much to the courage and depth of faith of these men. The best known of their number in Germany is St Killian, a bishop, who is the patron saint of Wurzburg and is still revered here today. Over the centuries, the Christian faith in Ireland also inspired great works of art which are today considered a priceless part of Europe's cultural heritage. So I am looking forward very much to seeing the Book of Kells and visiting Glendalough.

Ireland is not just a country with an ancient culture. The whole of Europe is fascinated by the power and creativity of Ireland's contemporary arts scene - from Irish music to art and Irish cinema. We should not forget that Ireland is a very youthful country, with a very young population.

And it is to the young, to the new generation in Ireland, that I would like to say this: You have prospects and opportunities in your grasp today of which your fathers and mothers, your grandparents, could not even dream.

Of course, mastering the future will be anything but easy. Constant effort is called for and there will be many difficulties and problems ahead. That is life. No one is going to hand us the future on a plate. Good sense, goodwill and a sense of perspective will be needed. Then, I firmly believe, the challenge can be met. You young people have your lives ahead of you, and the path you will tread will take you far into the next century.

Let us work together to ensure that our young people can look forward to a bright future - in Ireland, in Germany and in the whole of Europe, for the well being of our nations, for peace, freedom and prosperity! Long live German Irish friendship! May God bless this country!"