German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned his compatriots of difficult times ahead due to the consequences of the war in Ukraine, in a keynote speech on Friday aimed at invoking a spirit of resistance.
“Harder years, rough years are coming,” Steinmeier warned, adding that until February 24 the country had benefited from a “tailwind” following the end of the bloc confrontation associated with the Cold War.
“The peace dividend has been used up. An era of headwind is beginning for Germany,” the president said.
He said Germany could now draw on its accumulated strength and power – citing its economic clout, research prowess, successful companies, efficient state and the large, strong core of its society.
However, more was needed, he added.
“We need to become capable of conflict, both internally and externally,” Steinmeier said. “We need the will for self-assertion and also the strength for self-restraint.”
This was not the same as a war mentality. “But we need a spirit of resistance and resilience,” he noted, stressing the need for a strong military and Germany’s duty to contribute to Europe’s defence.
“I assure our partners: Germany accepts its responsibility in NATO, in Europe,” said Steinmeier, whose role is largely ceremonial.
Germany must “say goodbye to old ways of thinking and hopes,” he said, particularly relating to Russia.
Steinmeier and his Social Democrats have come under fire for cosying up to Moscow and deepening Germany’s energy dependence on Russia over the past decades.
Sanctions on Russia are costly for Germans but unavoidable, the president argued.
“It is in our interest to free ourselves from dependence on a regime that sets tanks against a neighbouring country and uses energy as a weapon. It is in our interest to protect ourselves and reduce our vulnerability,” he said.
Courtesy © dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH www.dpa.com