Dear President, Mr FW de Klerk, Dear Premier, Mrs Helen Zille,
Dear Excellency, Lord Renwick, who took the long flight to be here with us today, Distinguished friends and partners of the FW de Klerk Foundation, Excellencies, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you. I also would like to take the opportunity to send President De Klerk and all the staff of the FW de Klerk Foundation warmest regards from the chairman of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and former President of the German Bundestag, Prof Dr Norbert Lammert.
Today’s event is not only a celebration of 20 years of the successful and important work of the FW de Klerk Foundation. We also take the opportunity to reflect on the state of South Africa’s democracy and to commemorate the path of transformation this country has walked – a process initiated by President De Klerk. Obviously there are other people more eligible to speak on South Africa’s present and past than I am. Therefore I would like to give you some thoughts from an outside perspective.
70 years ago, in 1949, the democratic constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany came into effect. After the horrific outcome of the Second World War, the free part of Germany gave itself a constitution which was meant to remove the underlying causes of one of the biggest manmade catastrophes. “Never again”, was the motto, which gave inspiration to the constitutional authors: Never again shall an event like the Holocaust take place. Never again shall there be torture, repression and other human right violations on German soil. Never again shall European brothers and sisters fight each other to the death. Hence, it was no surprise that article 1of the German constitution stipulates: “Die Wurde des Menschen ist unantastbar”. In English: “Human dignity is inviolable”. From now on, politics should serve the good of the people, should strive for human dignity as the goal of any political action. By cleaving to the ideals and content of its constitution, Germany enjoyed a high level of political stability and followed a path of growing economic and social prosperity.