A Welcome Message
from the reigning Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit,
to the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy
Download the Welcome Message here

Berlin, July 2009

distinguished guests, and participants of the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy on the theme soft power

A heartfelt welcome from Berlin.

You are visiting us here in the German capital in a special year: Berlin is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It has now been 20 years since brave citizens across Central and Eastern Europe rose up against their regimes. Through peaceful means they fought and achieved not only freedom and the fall of the Berlin Wall, but an end to the confrontation between the two blocks. The world grew closer together and it was the hope of many that this would last into the future. Not long after, however, the term “clash of cultures” emerged and the horrible terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 took place.  Culture and religion have become instruments of political conflict.

I am heartened to see that the International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy serves as a counterbalance to this. In a city of migration such as Berlin many people are aware of the importance of finding common ground amongst diverse and rich cultures, and thereby drawing strength for peaceful coexistence. Cultural Diplomacy creates direct links between people, generates trust, and creates important and reliable partnerships for our society, our economy, and our politics.

In President Obama’s grand speech in Cairo, in which he held out his hand to the Muslim world, the US President said “It is easier to blame others than to look inward; to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path”. In the spirit of this speech, distinguished participants of the Symposium, let us choose the right path together! Let us break down walls and look for common ground and understanding! May this be the message of your trip to Berlin.

I wish you all a successful conference filled with inspiring encounters and I hope you will remember your stay with fond memories.

With warm regards

Klaus Wowereit

Mayor of Berlin