Ladies and Gentlemen,
Eleven new Consuls – we are delighted! Welcome to our city!
Hamburg is a modern, cosmopolitan city with economic, scientific, and cultural ties to other cities all over the world. We have cultivated and established these ties over the years – so it is not surprising that Hamburg has become a significant location for Consulates. I wish all of you who are new to the Consular Corps success, and hope that you soon feel at home in our city. We’ve tried to make it easy for you to settle in to your new home and your new job. The opening festivities for the Elbphilharmonie were certainly an exceptionally enjoyable kickoff. During the festivities we all felt the esprit with which Hamburg is striding into the future.
There are many reasons that we in Hamburg are confident in our future, even in these times of unusual challenges. One of the reasons is that our bonds of friendship with so many countries are tried and true – they continue to hold through difficulties and conflicts. Another reason is the positive economic situation: our growth is better than average, new jobs are being created, and many innovative companies are interested in Hamburg because we offer top-notch research opportunities and an innovation-friendly climate.
Hamburg is an important European center for scientific research. We are home to an institute of the Fraunhofer Society and to one of the German Aerospace Center sites. The research campus in Bahrenfeld, centered around DESY, is a world leader in structural research. When the European XFEL x-ray laser goes into action this summer, we will have an x-ray radiation source with a brilliance a billion times higher than that of the best conventional x-ray sources. The European XEFL, a cooperation between Germany and ten other countries, will open up wholly new opportunities for scientists and industrial users.
All of this attracts many people who want to live and work here. We like that! In order to make sure that all people can live comfortably in Hamburg, regardless of their income, the city government has initiated a city-wide residential construction project, the biggest in Germany. You’ve probably noticed the number of cranes and construction sites in the city. Some of those sites are entirely new neighborhoods, being built with a pleasing architectural design and suitable for families. We are also building new city train lines, setting the stage for electromobility, and we already have ultra-modern smart communication systems in our port.
Hamburg is ready for the future. Nevertheless, there are signals that have us worried. We must all work together to ensure that populist leanings do not take the upper hand, and that globalization does not lead to more inequality. All forces committed to democracy and justice must stand united. Our city is tied fast to the European market and to the European Union. As a member of the historical Hanseatic League, Hamburg has a long tradition of free trade and peaceful co-existence. We are staunch Europeans, and see our future in a united and strong democratic union.
Hamburg is also a city that values good and just cooperation. More than hundred years ago, the residents of Hamburg made a name for themselves with their passionate fight for equal rights and the beginnings of our modern welfare state. We here in Hamburg still stand by these values, and continue to strive to see them put into practice.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have nearly a hundred consular offices in Hamburg – a number that we are proud of. The new Consuls are thus in good company, and there will be many opportunities for you to get to know one another. I mentioned the up-coming Matthias Feast at the New Years’ reception. And the yearly outing for the Consular Corps is always a popular event. We, the representatives of Hamburg, also always look forward to the Annual Consular Dinner – thank you again for the invitation!
Eleven new Consuls – eleven countries with new representatives: France, India, New Zealand, Denmark, Egypt, Iran, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and the USA.
- Hamburg has a close and amicable relationship to the United States of America through the US General Consulate. We were pleased to receive the former US Ambassador John B. Emerson at the Rathaus when he paid us a farewell visit in January, and to welcome the new General Consul Richard T. Yoneoka to Hamburg this past July. This year the US Consulate will finally make its long-planned move from the Alster to the Hafencity – all the best for your new location!
- We also have a valued relationship with New Zealand, and especially with the port city of Auckland, which is implementing a new city-planning concept that is similar to our own Hafencity. We have issued a memorandum documenting the copious correspondence about creative industries, urban planning, renewable energy and international relations.
- The countries of Venezuela, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Argentina were all represented at last year’s Latin American Autumn Festival. Hamburg residents could enjoy and learn about Latin American and Caribbean culture and politics at numerous events. Hamburg has a long tradition of good relations with these countries, especially with the port cities like Buenos Aires.
- India will also present itself to Hamburg residents with a series of events during the 7th annual India Week in November. The kick-off-meeting took place in January in the Rathaus – many thanks for what I’ve been told was the great support from the General Consulate.
- I would also like to mention our extensive exchange with Egypt within the framework of international diplomatic training, and the recent visit to Iran by Frank Horch, Hamburg’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Transportation, and Innovation. We see many points of common interest, among them the automotive industry, medical technology, petro-chemicals, and renewable energy sources.
- I have a special relationship to France as the Federal Republic of Germany’s Commissioner for Cultural Affairs under the Élysée Treaty. On my up-coming trip to Toulouse this week, we’ll be discussing binational opportunities for professional training. This issue was also subject at this year’s German-French Day in January, where I met with France’s Minister of Education here in Hamburg. Hamburg is also closely bound to Toulouse through the aviation industry.
- Denmark is another of our trusted neighbors. We have a long tradition of scientific and economic cooperation. In the 2020s, Hamburg and Copenhagen will be even more directly connected via the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link – the train trip between the cities will take less than two and a half hours. We are very pleased that Denmark is once again represented in Hamburg with a General Consulate.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The eyes of the world will be on Hamburg when the G20 Summit takes place here in July. What those eyes won’t see is the quiet work that the consulates do in the background, ensuring that the citizens of countries all over the world can meet and communicate. This work may not be spectacular, but it is a prerequisite for the success of international relations. The consulates build the bridges that we cross every day.
I wish you the best of success with your new duties, and an enriching stay in Hamburg. We are delighted that you are here to strengthen the Consular Corps in our city.