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Freedom as the Core of the German Question (March 15, 1984)

In this "Report on the State of the Nation in Divided Germany," which was delivered to the German Bundestag, the chancellor emphasizes the right of all Germans to liberty and self-determination and stresses the unity of the German nation. He also underscores the government’s duty to improve relations between the two German states to better serve the citizens’ interests and promote peace in Europe.

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Report by Federal Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl on the State of the Nation in Divided Germany

Mr. President, honored ladies and gentlemen, we are speaking today of the state of the nation. Regarding the state of the nation, it must first be said that the division of Germany is a bitter reality for Germans. But the hope of overcoming this division is also a reality. The unity of the nation is and will remain alive.

There is intensive dialogue between the two German states; there are diverse contacts and constructive cooperation in numerous areas. Since the last report on the state of the nation in divided Germany, the network of relations has become firmer. Especially in difficult times of east-west relations, the two states are making an important contribution to maintaining peace by actively using all available options to work together.

This state of intra-German relations is the result of determined and level-headed policies. The idea, results, and prospects of these policies are recorded in this report on the state of the nation in divided Germany in six points:

First: Freedom is the core of the German Question.

The national task remains valid and achievable: to bring about the unity and freedom of Germany in free self-determination in a unified Europe.

Our most important legal and moral position remains the entitlement of all Germans to freedom and self-determination. The unity of the nation should and must be achieved first and foremost in the freedom of its people.

For us, the protection of freedom takes priority over all other goals. The Federal Republic of Germany is a liberal democratic state. Our commitment to a liberal democracy is one of the foundations of our state. Our decision for the European Community and NATO constitutes the base of our policies. We know where we belong; we know where we stand: on the side of freedom. We share our basic values and our political culture with [other] democratic states under the rule of law, a common basis that has grown over centuries of cooperation and conflict.

Because we want to remain free people in the free West, there is no inconstancy for us as regards this issue: From the sorrowful historical experience of a totalitarian regime internally and aggression directed externally, we have learned that freedom, human rights, and the peace they offer are the primary determinants of our state.

Our friends in the West know that they can rely on us. From historical experience and common values, and not least due to well-understood self-interest, they and we belong together. We firmly declared our commitment to the alliance in the free West in the Paris Accords thirty years ago. And in the same way the Three Powers, our most important allies, have obliged themselves to the goal of the unity of a free Germany.

The German Question remains an open one: This is true both politically and legally. The legal foundations that I named in detail in my policy statement of May 4, 1983, remain authoritative and offer an orientation for the policies of the federal government.

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