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"Coalition of New Possibilities" (November 30, 2005)

In her first policy statement, Angela Merkel addresses the most important political challenges facing Germany. She is optimistic that they can be tackled constructively. Echoing one of her predecessors, Willy Brandt, whose first policy statement of 1969 asked Germans to dare more democracy, she called on Germans to “dare more freedom” – specifically, freedom for the economy from bureaucratic regulations.

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Policy Statement by Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel in the German Bundestag on November 30, 2005, in Berlin:

Mr. President,
Esteemed ladies and gentlemen,
Dear colleagues,

Allow me first to make some comments in light of current events: A German citizen and her Iraqi driver have been missing in Iraq since last Friday. From what we know at the moment, we have to assume that they have both been kidnapped. The Federal Government and, I am sure, the whole Parliament categorically condemns this act.

And one thing is clear – this Government, this Parliament will not allow itself to be blackmailed.

It is equally clear that in this situation the Federal Government is focusing all its efforts on protecting the life of Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi companion and obtaining their release. Our thoughts during these hours and days are with the families and friends of the victims. We empathize with them. We want them to know that all Germans share in the plight of the hostages, and that all Germans feel a deep sense of solidarity and connection with them.

I would like to assure all of them that the Federal Government is doing everything in its power to bring the German citizen and her driver to safety as soon as possible.

We still know nothing of the motives or the background to the kidnapping. It would therefore be unwise to draw premature conclusions. Yet we must remember one basic fact – international terrorism remains one of the greatest challenges to the international community. We must not relent in our fight against international terrorism. It targets that which matters to us and that which lies at the heart of our civilization. It targets our entire system of values – freedom, tolerance, respect and consideration for human dignity, democracy and the rule of law. If we were to forfeit these values, we would be forfeiting our very souls.

And we can also sense something else at this time, something that characterizes our country. We close neither our eyes nor our hearts to the suffering of others. We know the strength of solidarity. We have experienced the power that can spring forth from community spirit and compassion. We are aware that a nation is more than a random collection of individuals, and we know that a nation is always a community with a common destiny. If we embrace this notion, we can draw from it the strength and confidence we need to overcome even the toughest challenges.

I feel it is important for Parliament to send this message at the start of the debate. We have come together today to debate the first policy statement of the new Federal Government and will continue to do so over the coming days. Allow me to ask you at the outset – who is most amazed by all this today? Weeks and months ago, who would have thought that a grand coalition would assemble today to jointly lead our country into the future?

Who would have thought that Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) would discover they had so much in common that they could present an in-depth program for the next four years?

Who would have thought that my coalition partner would be led by a party chairman from Brandenburg? Who would have thought that a woman would be appointed to the highest government office this year? Who would have imagined all of this?

All of this has taken us by surprise, and some of it has even taken me by surprise. But it is not the biggest surprise of my life. The biggest surprise of my life is freedom. I expected many things, but I did not expect to be granted the gift of freedom before I reached retirement.

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