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Canada Meets Germany Study Tour 2009

Berlin/Munich, November 2009

Day 1: Introductions, Cultural Diplomacy and Soft Power

The study tour started on Sunday afternoon at the University of Munich where Canada Meets Germany Program Director Sophie Röhrig opened the forum with a short speech outlining the week’s events and program and introductions.

Founder and Director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy Mark Donfried then gave an introductory lecture, during which he defined and discussed the concept of cultural diplomacy and soft power, outlining the history of cultural diplomacy and cultural institutions and the role and aims of the ICD.

The day ended with a welcome dinner at a traditional Bavarian restaurant, where participants had the chance to recap on the day and get to know one another better.

Day 2: BMW, Renewable Energy and a Trip to a Bavarian Brewery

The first session was held at BMW headquarters where Dr. Georg Schmitz, Vice President of the Munich Office of BMW Americas region provided the participants with an insight into the history of BMW, business operations in Canada and Germany and the impact that current economic crisis has had. The participants also had the chance to receive an introduction and talk by the President of BMW, Canada, Mr. Jung. These presentations preceded a tour of BMW World in Munich, where an extensive portfolio of high performance and concept automobile models where showcased.

After lunch participants received a presentation in the Canadian Consulate by Consul Dr. Terrie Romano on the Ontario Energy Act, a new energy policy, which is being implemented in Ontario. The policy focuses on the range of benefits and disadvantages between centralized, mass produced power i.e. coal power or nuclear fission, and smaller, decentralized, high efficiency renewable energy, as well as planning for the future use of energy in the region. The presentation also touched on the issue of global warming, discussed the ways in which Ontario is reacting to the problem, as well as long term plans for the future.

A tour of the city then followed, during which the participants visited some of Munich’s most famous sights and monuments.

In the evening, the group made their way back to the Canadian Consulate where they were welcomed by Consul Alan Minz, Managing Director of the Consulate and Wes Sawatzky, representing the Government of Alberta in Bavaria. During a reception, the group had the chance to meet with a number of guests relevant to German-Canadian relations.

Day 3: A discussion of Bavarian-Canadian Relations

On the third morning of the CMG study tour, Michael Hinterdobler, Head of Division for International Relations for the State of Bavaria, delivered a lecture on the history of Bavaria and Bavaria’s role in the German-Canadian relationship. The lecture covered the peculiarities of Bavaria and explained in detail how Canada and Southern Germany are inextricably linked, through business tourism and cultural relations.

Lunch was hosted by Osborne Clarke, where the participants were joined by employees and enjoyed Bavarian specialities and an outstanding view to the Alps.

The group then travelled to the Quebec Office in Munich where they received a presentation given by Dr. Charles Villiers, Agent-General, Katia Grimard, Director of Public Affairs, Benekdikt Miklos, Public Affairs Attaché and Dr. Florence Gauzy, Bayerische Forschungsallianz (Bavarian Research Alliance). This lecture dealt extensively with the Bavaria-Quebec partnership explaining how recent cooperation between Bavaria and Québec is based on a multi-year tradition of partnership, which began in the early 1980s and was institutionalised in 1989. This cooperation spans into broad areas from politics and administration, economy, science, research and technology, social and academic education, culture and society.

The participants then travelled to Munich Hauptbahnhof, where they were to board the ICE train that would take them to Berlin, the second stop on the Canada Meets Germany program.

Day 4: Berlin, German Foreign Office, Canadian Embassy and the Reichstag

Day four began at the German Foreign Office in Berlin (Auswärtiges Amt), where the participants were given a talk by Mr. Daniel Kriener, Deputy Head of Division for United States of America and Canadian affairs. Kriener first spoke of the building’s history, informing the participants that the old part in which they sat had been the former Reichsbank during the National Socialist era, and then the central seat of the communist party in 1956. After this introduction, he outlined the similarities and differences between the two countries and the increasing exchange and dialogue between them. He explained that there was little need for such discussion six or seven years ago as both countries had reflective political systems and it was unlikely that their policies would change much. Both were medium power countries and often looked to the international system for common solutions. However Kriener also explained that a number of important issues have made increased dialogue between the two countries very important. These issues include the situation in Afghanistan, climate change, competition for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and also a trade agreement between Canada and the EU.

Through increased interaction it has become apparent that whilst the countries remain very similar, there are differences when assessing their economies, migration and immigration policies, engagement and agenda. Mr. Kriener then opened the floor for questions. Participants were keen to find out more about German-Canadian roles in Afghanistan, the importance of cultural exchange for the Foreign Office and the integration system for migrants in both countries.

The group then spent lunchtime at Potsdamer Platz, reassembling at the Canadian embassy at 3pm to have a look at the exhibition entitled, ‘Freedom Rocks- Images of the Berlin Wall.’ Later the participants were welcomed to the embassy by Ambassador H.E. Dr. Peter Boehm, who emphasised the unique nature of the CMG program and encouraged the participants to take full advantage of the networking and educational opportunities. After the Ambassadors speech, the embassy’s political councillor Marina Laker gave a detailed presentation on the embassy’s role in German–Canadian relations. Amongst other things, foreign policy, defence and security relations and public affairs were discussed and the floor was opened for the participants, who wanted to know Canada’s views on EU relations, Laker’s views on the current economic negotiations and the relationships between less developed provinces and Germany. The participants were then invited to refreshments at the embassy.

The final session of the day was held at the Reichstag where Birgit Otto (CDU), Ulli Finkenbusch (FDP) and Manuel Sarrazin of Germany's green party lead a discussion on, ‘A New German Government and its implications.’ The young leaders had the opportunity to listen and interact with the two speakers on an informal level and were eager to find out about the strengths and weaknesses of coalition governments. As well as showing an interest in the process behind election campaigns, the young leaders were also keen to find out about development aid, data protection and the health care system. The day ended with participants heading to Prenzlauer Berg to unwind and have dinner together, where they could reflect upon the day’s activities.

Day 5 – Considering Leadership and Climate Change

Thursday began at the ICD House with a seminar called “Legal and Social Dynamics of Moving People, Goods, Data and Services Worldwide,” hosted by Michael Siebold, partner in Arnecke-Siebold; Chairman of the German-Canadian Business Club and the German-Canadian society. An attorney by trade, Siebold encouraged a very stimulating discussion beginning with the question, 'On the move; Successful strategy or dangerous game?' Participants discussed the future of globalisation, considering wether or not the amount of transportation used today is sustainable, if there will be a return to regionalism as well as wether technology holds the solutions to keep going and growing. They also discussed the potential catastrophes of such rapid movement, in particular the rapid spread of pandemics. The effects of humans changing the planetary landscape was elaborated on with an interesting example of how mankind influences ecosystems- the Suez Canal, opened in 1869. Its result is that many tropical species are travelling up it and settling in the Mediterranean, and many native species are diminishing. One conclusion draws from the discussion was that the outcome of man's actions is often difficult to foresee, and that in resolving one problem we can uncover another. Interesting debates continued into lunch, which took place in ICD House courtesy of Siebold.

In the afternoon, participants were able to put their ideas on leadership into action, working together in teams to come up with initiatives. With a mixed group if Canadians and Germans, all interested in created ties, both social and corporate, it was an excellent opportunity for exchanging ideas. Participants came up with many interesting plans, some more long-term ideas, and others that can be implemented immediately.

After a break, participants returned for the panel discussion, “Climate Change, Energy Mix and Energy Security,” which analysed energy use in both Germany and Canada. According to The Economist, Germany and Canada are the 6th and 7th highest emitters of CO2, putting them under similar pressure to be proactive in combating climate change. The discussion focused on CO2 emissions, and the need to reduce this, as well as the problem of depleting natural resources. For the first, the plausibility of CSS (carbon capture and storage) was discussed, and for the latter ithe the need for immediate action in introducing alternatives was highlighted. Panellists agreed that there is no single renewable energy solution, and instead they must be region-specific, eg. Spain would benefit from solar energy, in Denmark wind farms are a good option and so on. Participants debated whether alternatives alone are the solution, or if we should reduce our energy consumption. Also, it was asked if either Germany or Canada can learn anything from the other, but as it stands, no country in the world is exemplary on the energy front.

Canada's huge oil reserves also came into the discussion. Extraction of oil from the large Athabasca deposit in Alberta is a costly procedure, however as oil prices increase this will be increasingly worthwhile and it's likely we will see Canada's oil sands reserves diminishing.

The panel discussion was followed by a dinner hosted by the Canada Meets Germany Alumni network, where participants were given the opportunity to socialise and mix with a large number of previous participants.

Day 6 – Deutsche Welle, Art as Cultural Diplomacy and Farewells

The final day of the Canada Meets Germany program began with a visit to the Deutsche Welle Studios in the Wedding district of Berlin. The participants received an interesting and informative speech by former Canadian swimmer and prize winning journalist Karin Helmstaedt. The talk highlighted Mrs Helmstaedt’s career in journalism and her involvement with anti-doping in sport, as well as covering liberalism in the media. Participants got to witness Mrs Helmstaedt’s own appearances in the German media, as well as her work on television programs including the very well received ‘Staatsgeheimnis Kinderdoping‘. After a question and answer session with Mrs Helmstaedt, the participants were given the opportunity to explore Deutsch Welle's studios. There was a comprehensive tour of the video and sound stages within the complex at Voltastrasse. Finally, participants were shown a stunning view of the city from the top floor of the Deutsche Welle building.

The afternoon was spent sightseeing, and participants got to see some of Berlin's finest landmarks including Schloss-Charlottenburg and the famous wall-crossing point, Checkpoint Charlie.

The participants then headed to the September Gallery in the Mitte district of Berlin. After viewing some of the work in the main space, the group was invited into the gallery space of Larissa Fassler, who showcased her new exhibition “Walking in Place”. The exhibition was based on public space and cities, and included a fantastic Mind-Map style collage of the City of London using only signs and advertisements, and a detailed model of the U-Bahn station Hallesches Tor which was made only according to personal measurements and memory. The exhibition included many similar maps constructed from memory, including a Berlin Public transport map which included only the stations Mrs Fassler had visited.

The Canada meets Germany study tour ended with a group dinner in Charlottenburg, with final farewells made back at the hotel before some of the participants caught the early return flight to Canada.