Members of the Consular Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ten new heads of consular posts, as well as new leadership at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning – these represent an enormous reinforcement of the international character of our city. A warm welcome to everyone who will be enhancing our consular corps and our international organisations!
Hamburg is a city that will make it easy for you to begin to feel at home and to be comfortable in the new role you have assumed. We are extremely pleased that you have decided to take on this responsibility and that you have come to Hamburg!
You have taken on this mission in a year that has made us optimistic about the future and that has been an extremely exciting one for Hamburg. It began with the opening of the Elbphilharmonie, which has won a place in the hearts of the music world as well as the citizens of Hamburg. And the best thing about this is that people are as enthusiastic about the Concert Hall on the Kaispeicher as they were on the very first day. Every time you visit the Elbphilharmonie, you can again wax enthusiastic about the architecture, the music and the view of the harbour – and discover something new each time.
In September, we opened another edifice, one that is no less impressive: the Free Electron Laser Facility, the European XFEL. Of course, to get a true impression of this masterpiece of modern technology, you would have to delve many metres underground – to the place where, in a tunnel that is 3.4 kilometres long, electrons are accelerated almost to the speed of light. This means that researchers are now literally able to observe how molecules react. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world, and it makes us optimistic about the prospects of further progress in medicine.
With the Elbphilharmonie and the European XFEL, Hamburg now has two new sites with an international aura – one for art and one for science. Both of them represent the cosmopolitan city of Hamburg and its role in the global world.
Hamburg is an open-minded metropolis, one that prides itself on the ideals of enlightenment and a pragmatic humanism. We do everything we can to ensure that Hamburg can proceed further along this path and that it will be able to help meet the great challenges of our time.
The changes resulting from technical progress and the globalisation of markets present us with challenges we gladly accept. These include ensuring that all of our citizens are able to cope well with this transition and to share in its benefits.
In the past years, we in Hamburg have succeeded in considerably reinforcing the sciences and the capacity for innovation. We believe that this course of action has been validated in 2017: Economic performance is good, and the number of jobs continues to grow. The city is also growing, for the rising quality of life and Hamburg’s attractiveness are drawing new residents from all over Germany, Europe and the entire world. And we are very happy about this.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since the Middle Ages, Hamburg has thrived on the basis of its diverse international relationships. We are committed Europeans and see our future in our role as an innovative and internationally oriented metropolis in the north. A strong European Union provides the basis on which we will be able to further develop our international relationships in view of the great challenges that will face us. Constructive relationships are the core of our prosperity and our freedom. And we are committed to these nationally, in Europe and worldwide.
It is good for Europe to now institute reforms, and for Germany to stand at France's side in these efforts. Despite the unusual degree of negotiations currently needed for the formation of a government in Germany, this will not change the fact that the future government will continue to work to push forward with these vital issues.
We in Hamburg will also continue to count on the traditionally close relationships we have with Great Britain. Although we certainly regret the impending Brexit and the complicated negotiations involved with the exit of Great Britain from the European Union – there is no doubt that Hamburg will still remain the most British city in Germany. In the struggles some European countries are confronting in connection with their roles in the European Union and as a constitutional, liberal democracy, we will also continue to rely on our strong relationships in trade, culture and science.
There are almost a hundred consular representations in Hamburg. Their good work is a prerequisite for ensuring that citizens of other countries can come to Hamburg and feel at home in short time. It is good that you are now taking on this important work in such a key location.
In view of the numerous diplomatic missions, you will have many colleagues in the city. The Consular Corps meets on many occasions. On January 30th, 2018, the Hamburg Senate is extending an invitation to the New Year's Reception at the Rathaus. Plans for February include the traditional Matthiae-Mahl, an event that has been celebrated in Hamburg since the year 1356. It underscores Hamburg’s role as a city that is open to the world and dedicated to peace and to the free exchange of knowledge and goods. You will receive an invitation to the Matthiae-Mahl in good time.
We in Hamburg are very pleased that we can now welcome Ms Tarasyuk from Ukraine as the new Doyenne. We would like to extend our congratulations on this position with the great responsibility it entails and wish you all the best in your new post.
A warm welcome as well to the new heads of the General Consulates of Spain, Poland and Uruguay. The fact that Tabaré Vázquez, the President of Uruguay, and his delegation also conducted a large number of talks in Hamburg during their visit to Germany in February 2017 benefited our partnership with this successful country in the southern part of South America.
The honorary consulates also play a significant role in this. We are pleased that Mauritius and Ethiopia are now represented by a consulate in Hamburg for the first time. The leadership of Thailand has changed. The honorary consulates of Seychelles and Pakistan were reopened.
I would like to point out again the new President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. Working from Hamburg, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ensures the implementation and further development of a common law of the sea, as has been agreed by all members of the United Nations. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning has been in Hamburg since 1952. It concentrates on education and literacy training for adults, and this is of particularly great importance in this era of digitalisation and globalisation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We in Hamburg are delighted that ten consular representations, an educational institution of UNESCO, and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea have new leadership. I wish all of you a successful start and long-lasting success in your plans.