President Wulff: "Germany sees itself as responsible for the existence and security of the State of Israel.  We have to convey this feeling of responsibility from generation to generation."

 President Peres hosts German President Wulff  at Official Residence


President Wulff laying wreath at Yad Vashem (Photo: GPO)

(Communicated by the President’s Spokesperson)

German President Christian Wulff was the guest of President Shimon Peres this morning (Sunday, 28 November 2011) at the latter’s Official Residence.  President Peres welcomed his guest in an official welcoming ceremony and later held a working diplomatic meeting with him.

During the delivery of the joint press statements in the Official Residence garden, President Wulff said: “I thank you for agreeing to accompany me and my daughter later today during our visit to Yad Vashem.  This will be, without a doubt, a high point of my visit. I asked that my first visit as President outside Europe would be to Israel in order to stress the fact that relations between Germany and Israel are very dear to my heart.  Germany sees itself as responsible for the existence and security of the State of Israel.  We have to convey this feeling of responsibility from generation to generation.  This is one of the reasons that on this visit to Israel I included a delegation of students.  The sense of responsibility towards Israel is the guideline of German policy.”

President Wulff added that he “agrees with President Peres that the long term security of Israel will be guaranteed by a just regional peace based on the principles of two states for two peoples with secure and agreed upon borders.  I know that you have been working on achieving peace for many years and Germany will support your efforts as much as possible.  We hope for a solution to the issue of settlements so that the window of opportunity for peace will remain open and even expand.  I intend to also speak about the issue of the advancement of peace during my meeting with Mahmoud Abbas.”  President Wulff is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas in Bethlehem at the conclusion of his visit.

President Peres said:  “This is an extraordinary visit.  We are thankful that you have selected Israel to be the first country that you are visiting our Europe.  It shows where your heart is.  Our relations with Germany are as important as relations can be. The German leadership and most of the German people remember the past and feel that between Germany and Israel there must be special relations.  We also feel that in all areas including science, arts, politics, and finance our relations are at the very best. 

Also we have a common responsibility to educate our children, not only to understand the past, that cannot be changed, but to be responsible for the future.”

Regarding regional affairs President Peres added that: “Israel has achieved many important things in the domain of science, culture, arts and education, but the thing what we are really lacking is peace.  We made peace with two countries – Egypt and Jordan – and gave back everything we won in the war and now we are trying to make peace with the Palestinians.  I do believe that peace with the Palestinians will have an automatic positive effect on the entire region.  Peace will help moderate Arab nations that are against terror and against new religious imperialism like the Iranians are trying to introduce. It will enable us to enjoy a better life.  It is not simple to make peace, so maybe this is the best season for peace, because the traditional conflicts between us and the Palestinians stand in the shadow of the central Iranian threat to dominate the Middle East.”

Later in the day President Peres accompanied President Wulff on his official visit to Yad Vashem.  The two Presidents held a ceremony at the Hall of Remembrance and laid wreaths in memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.  President Peres also hosted President Wulff at his residence for an official lunch attended by both German and Israeli personalities working to strengthen relations between the countries in the fields of diplomacy, trade, culture, science and technology.

This visit is taking place within the framework of introductory visits that the German President is conducting with countries that have a special relationship with Germany.  This is President Wulff’s first visit to Israel since taking office several months ago, and it is his first visit outside the European Union.  President Wulff represents the younger generation of Germany; he is the first President born after the Second World War.   The visit symbolizes the continuation of the special dialogue between the two countries.

President Wulff is accompanied by his 17-year old daughter, heads of the President’s Office, representatives of the German Foreign Ministry, various Members of the Bundestag, leaders of the Jewish community, 10 businessmen, 20 journalists and a delegation of students.  It should be noted that Germany is Israel’s leading trading partner in Europe with a total annual trade of $6 billion ($2 billion export and $4 billion import.)  President Wulff is traveling with a senior delegation of business leaders that plan to meet their Israeli counterparts here.  The President is dedicating a significant portion of his visit to economic and trade related issues.