Former rebel East-German pastor, then after reunification the head of the office maintaining and investigating the Stasi archives, now Bundespräsident, Joachim Gauck is carefully and sympathetically using his symbolic role as Germany’s president to put some good suggestions in motion. The F.A.Z. reported that Gauck said in a recent interview with the “Real Change”-type newspaper straßenfeger that he considers the President of Germany “as a type of translator between operative politics and the burghers” and that he would listen to burghers’ questions and concerns and then debate them with M.P.’s; candidly, he saw that “he can also motivate people by inviting them or giving them awards,” and he wanted to open up the presidential palace and encourage discourse. On 20 Feb 2013 the Bundespräsidential web page announced that Gauck wanted to create and drive forward public discussion via “new types of events for dialog with burghers” that will be held at the presidential palace of Bellevue, to be called the “Bellevue Forum.”
The Bellevue Forum series began Friday, 22 Feb 2013, with a touching, rousing, humble, insightful speech about Europe at Bellevue Palace before about 200 invited international guests. In the text of the speech Gauck talked about values, European Union design features that have to be corrected, the complexity of solutions to complicated problems, and practical suggestions that included creating a common European television/internet channel—like the wonderful German-French Arte, plus C-Span—to broadcast news stories from around Europe. Television highlights of the 22 Feb speech focussed on the warmth of how he reached out to people of other nationalities and faiths, how he said that to Germans more Europe does not mean a German Europe but instead a European Germany (which sounds much less lonely!), and particularly how he spoke to the UK:
Dear people of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, dear new British citizens! We would like you to stay with us! We need your experience as the oldest parliamentary democracy, we need your traditions, your pragmatism and your courage! During the Second World War, your efforts helped to save our Europe – and it is also your Europe. Let us continue to engage in discussion on how to move towards the European res publica, for we will only be able to master future challenges if we work together. More Europe cannot mean a Europe without you!
The speech concluded with a manifesto:
- Do not be indifferent!
- Do not be lazy!
- Recognize your ability to make a contribution!
(Bell VÜ fore OOM.)