Let me extend a very warm welcome to all of you and express my highest appreciation to the Class of 2016!
It is a special pleasure for me to join you at this wonderful ceremony today and to congratulate these brilliant young academics who have pursued their postgraduate studies here in Bonn, at the Center for European Integration Studies.
This occasion is a very special one, indeed: you will be rewarded in recognition of your outstanding achievements, of some intense studying and continued research – for which you will receive your master degrees today. So this is definitely a day to be grateful and proud – a day to celebrate! You will be handed over your certificates not only in the presence of some special guests this afternoon, but also in the presence of your families and dear friends, which will hopefully make this the perfect day for you, the Class of 2016!
The Center for European Integration Studies is a key actor within Bonn’s international and sustainability cluster.
We are proud to have this topflight institute on board, as it gives a brilliant example of some fresh thinking and has found new ways of successfully linking topics and actors in our city.
There are some very special ties between Bonn and Europe that have always been endorsed by our actors and by our philosophy. The European Anthem, for instance, originates from Bonn – fathered by Ludwig van Beethoven. 50 years ago, when Bonn was capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, de Gaulle and Adenauer sealed the friendship between Germany and France – a sign of lasting peace that was to become the foundation stone of the European Union. And a larger European integration became possible after the German Reunification.
Three signals of peace, understanding and cooperation that went out from Bonn. And what a masterpiece of these values Europe has become in our times – in spite of all difficulties that we have been going through in recent times- and in spite of the British decision last night! There is a chinese saying that tells us: “When the wind of change is blowing, some will build walls, others will construct wind mills.” On that note, I think we need more wind mills in Europe.
Nowadays, a Bonn-based cluster of actors is advancing the great value of a global sustainable development from here. The United Nations in Bonn have shaped a sustainable future from here for twenty years, making our city a true powerhouse for global sustainability.
Our Bonn-based agencies do also comprise programs of the United Nations University and they are surrounded and supported by a Bonn-based sustainability cluster including six federal ministries, the economy, the media and more than 150 NGOs.
Science plays an essential role within this cluster. We are particularly happy that Bonn-based science and research institutions are engaging in future-oriented projects, jointly with the UN, with NGOs and with other cities worldwide. Networking and sharing experiences, learning from each other, finding synergies, looking for some fresh thinking – there are few better places for this than Bonn, with its unique culture of communication and cooperation. The spirit of Ludwig van Beethoven, mentioned earlier, is still found here in Bonn – a spirit of multilateralism, peace and understanding.
Dear Class of 2016, I hope that this spirit is what you will take home from here! May it prove beneficial for your future careers and lives! I am quite sure that you will keep an excellent memory of Bonn! Who knows? – Some of you may even decide to come back here to pursue a future career in our international city. We will be glad to welcome you back!
A special thank you goes to Professor Kühnhardt, to Professor Koenig and to their team, for encouraging and guiding these young scientists, who have now proudly achieved their master degrees.
I also would like to thank Professor Bindenagel, who will be the keynote speaker tonight. As former US Ambassador to Germany, he is a true expert for transatlantic relations.
My best wishes go out to the University of Bonn and to the ZEI Master Class of 2016!