My fellow citizens,
Heartfelt greetings to you. On this New Year’s Eve, I am happy to have the opportunity to share some thoughts that are on my mind as we stand on the threshold of a new year.
I know from many conversations and encounters this year that a lot of you are concerned about the cohesion of Germany. It has been a long time since the differences of opinion about this have been so stark. Some have even spoken of a rift running through our society.
On the one side, there are those who say that Germany is a wonderful country where we live by the values of our Basic Law. A country that is strong and economically successful, where more people have jobs today than ever before. A cosmopolitan, diverse and cohesive society, where millions of people help others on a voluntary basis every day – for example, in sports or by aiding the sick, the vulnerable, or refugees.
On the other side, there are those who say that too many people are being left out of this success. Too many who cannot keep up with the pace of contemporary life. Too many who see their children drawn away to big cities as they are left alone in areas where many aspects of everyday life are becoming ever more difficult, from visiting the doc-tor to doing the shopping. Too many who worry that there is too much crime and violence. Who wonder how we can regulate and organise immigration to our country.
These are both realities of our country: the success and confidence, as well as the anxieties and doubts. Both of them motivate me.
For you, my fellow citizens, have charged us politicians with the task of tending to the challenges of the future, and in doing so, keeping the needs of all our citizens in mind. I am committed to this task – also and especially when it comes to the work of quickly forming a stable government for Germany in the new year.
Because the world will not wait for us. We must act today to create the conditions for Germany to thrive 10 and 15 years from now. And Germany will truly thrive when its success benefits everyone, improving and enhancing our lives.
In this pursuit, the key principle of the social market economy – that economic success and social cohesion are two sides of the same coin – can also be the compass guiding us through this era of digital progress.
This means, on one hand:
- securing existing jobs while also creating entirely new jobs for the future,
- supporting companies even more when it comes to researching and developing innovative technologies,
- making the state a digital pioneer,
- and especially preparing ourselves and our children for digital pro-gress through the best education and further training.
And, on the other hand, it means:
- focusing on families, relieving the financial burden on them, so that they can find an even better balance between the demands of profes-sional and family life,
- making good and dignified care possible by strengthening the care professions and providing even better support to people who care for family members at home,
- and – not least – providing for equal living conditions in every region of our country, whether in cities or in the countryside.
And we will have to invest even more in a strong state that defends the rules of our society and provides for your security – for all of our security.
That is why, at this point, I would like to express my special thanks to the police officers who are there for us this evening too, protecting, for example, the many New Year’s Eve celebrations in our country, as well as the soldiers who are serving our country at home and in missions abroad.
In all of this, Germany’s future is inseparable from the future of Europe. The 27 countries of Europe must be motivated more strongly than ever to hold together as a community. This will be the crucial issue of the coming years.
This will be a matter of whether we Europeans represent our values in a globalised and digital world assertively and in a spirit of solidarity, both internally and externally, thus also working for an economically successful and equitable Europe, as well as consistently standing up for the protection of our external borders and the security of our citizens.
Germany and France want to work together to make this a success, and in doing so help make Europe fit for the future.
My fellow citizens,
The struggle to find the right answers is part of a vibrant democracy. We are a society with many voices, in the best sense. At the same time, we are united by the values of our Basic Law: respect for the inviolable dignity of every individual and of every individual’s liberties.
My wishes for the New Year are for us to become more aware again of what holds us together at heart, for us to focus more again on what we have in common, and for us to strive for more consideration of others again. I mean consideration in the broadest sense: paying attention, truly listening, and showing understanding for others.
And for the New Year of 2018, I wish you and your families health, strength, confidence and God’s blessing.
Sunday, December 31, 2017