New Year’s Speech on the 31st of December, English Interpretation
a year ago already, on New Year’s Eve 2014, we had to look back at a year dominated by far too many wars and crises. Some, such as the Ebola catastrophe in Africa, have long since vanished from the headlines. Some of what moved us in 2014, however, has lost none of its pressing importance. Sadly. The war in Syria and the brutal slaughtering by the terrorist organisation ISIS are such crises.
A year ago, on New Year’s Eve I said: Direct and dire consequence of these crises and wars are refugee numbers that have been unseen since World War Two. Many of these refugees literally barely escaped death. The one and only thing to do is to help them and offer refuge to those seeking refuge with us. This evening I am repeating that crucial idea. Hardly has there ever been a year in which following up words with action was so crucial for Germany and all German people. But the year 2015 was such a year. And this is why, on this New Year’s Eve, I want to say just one thing: Thank you.
Thank you – for the overwhelming and incredibly moving wave of spontaneous altruism which we were allowed to witness this year – a year in which so many people embarked on mortally dangerous journeys to seek refuge with us. Thank you – to the countless volunteers for their warmth of heart and engagement, which will forever be associated with the year of 2015. Thank you – to the many fulltime helpers; every soldier and every policeman deserves our thanks and respect for their helping hand; every state employee, whether in country, state or municipality administration deserves our gratitude. Your willingness and effectiveness to aid by far outshines your duty to help. You all, volunteers as well as employees, have achieved the outstanding so far and are achieving it still – even at this very hour.
It is out of the question that the immigration of so many people will continue to be a challenge to us. It will cost time, energy and money – especially keeping in mind the integral task of integration of those who will stay for good. In this, we want to, we will and we must learn from the mistakes of the past. Our values, our traditions, our righteousness, our language, our law, our rules – they uphold our society, they are the foundation for an exemplary, peaceful coexistence of anyone and everyone in our country, a coexistence governed by mutual respect of all in our country. It must be the prerequisite for anyone who wants to live here.
Nations have always profited from well-organised immigration – economically and socially. It is out of the question that our country has overcome many great challenges in the past and always has grown from it. On the 3rd of October we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the German reunion. Is it not fascinating to see where we stand 25 years later? We grew together as a nation. We are witnessing the lowest rate of unemployment and the highest employment in the history of our united Germany. We have not made any additional national debt for the last 2 years. The effective wage is growing, the economy is robust and innovative. I am convinced: If tackled correctly, even the huge task of immigration and integration is a chance, a possibility for tomorrow. This is because we are witnessing a great engagement from our citizens and because we are applying a multilateral array of political strategies. Nationally, Europe-wide and on the whole globe we are working for the protection of Europe’s external borders, working to turn illegal immigration into legal migration, working to fight the source of the refugee crisis to reduce the number of refugees effectively and sustainably. In the fight on the Islamic State, Germany is making vital contributions. Our soldiers protect our values, our security and our freedom with their body and with their life. I am thanking them with all my heart.
In the next year one thing will be integral: staying united. It will be integral to always listen to the reasoning of both sides, even if they value opportunities and woes differently than oneself. It will be integral to not let anything or anyone divide us. Not our generations. Not socially. Not into ethnic Germans and internationals. It will be integral to not follow those who, with fear or even hatred in their hearts want to claim Germanness for themselves and only themselves, who seek to divide us. It will be integral to keep striving to be a nation, in which we are confident and free, social and open-minded – with a will to achieve, with the will to do our very best. Economically, with employees and employers, so that the force of social Business can continue to flourish; as well as in science, arts and culture. Everyone, in their own lives. Of course also in sports, when our athletes will fight for Medals and personal records at the Olympic and Paralympic games or when our World Champions of football want to become European Champions as well.
Dear Citizens, it is true: This is a very distinct time to be living in. A time full of challenges. But, dear citizens, it is true: We can do this, because our Germany is strong.
I wish you, and I wish us all health, strength, confidence and god’s blessing for the year 2016.