"A Partnership Between Our Peoples"

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 8, 2011
President Obama Presents German Chancellor Merkel the Medal of Freedom

More:White House Photo Gallery

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany to the White House for an official visit and State Dinner on June 7, 2011. During the arrival ceremony, President Obama said:

"Today marks the first official visit and State Dinner for a European leader during my presidency. It's only fitting. The transatlantic alliance is the cornerstone -- is the heart -- of our efforts to promote peace and prosperity around the world. And Germany -- at the heart of Europe -- is one of our strongest allies. And Chancellor Merkel is one of my closest global partners.

"Our alliance, at its core, is a partnership between our peoples. The generations of German Americans who helped build a strong America. The Americans who, during a long Cold War, helped to defend a free Germany. And citizens of both our countries -- entrepreneurs, innovators, students, scientists, and soldiers -- who work together, and forge the future, every day.

"At a time when some have asked whether the rise of new global powers means the decline of others, this visit reaffirms an enduring truth. Our alliances with nations like Germany are more important than ever. Indeed, they're indispensable to global security and prosperity."

Later in the day, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel held a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Vice President Joseph Biden and Dr. Jill Biden hosted a State Luncheon in honor of Chancellor Merkel. Secretary Clinton said:

"Chancellor Merkel is someone who has proven to be an extraordinary leader, not only on behalf of her country but on the world stage on so many issues that matter greatly to the United States and all those who love and cherish freedom and peace and opportunity for all."

During a State Dinner at the White House, President Obama honored Chancellor Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. President Obama said:

"...More than five decades ago -- in 1957 -- the first German chancellor ever to address our Congress, Konrad Adenauer, spoke of his people's 'will of freedom' and of the millions of his countrymen forced to live behind an Iron Curtain. And one of those millions, in a small East German town, was a young girl named Angela.

"She remembers when the Wall went up and how everyone in her church was crying. Told by the communists that she couldn't pursue her love of languages, she excelled as a physicist. Asked to spy for the secret police, she refused. And the night the Wall came down, she crossed over, like so many others, and finally experienced what she calls the 'incredible gift of freedom.'

"Tonight, we honor Angela Merkel not for being denied her freedom, or even for attaining her freedom, but for what she achieved when she gained her freedom. Determined to finally have her say, she entered politics -- rising to become the first East German to lead a united Germany, the first woman chancellor in German history, and an eloquent voice for human rights and dignity around the world."Fact Sheets: The United States and Germany -- Leaders for the 21st Century, U.S.-Germany Security Cooperation, U.S.-Germany Bilateral Economic Ties, U.S.-German Global Economic and Development Cooperation, U.S.-Germany Science and Technology Cooperation, and U.S.-Germany Cultural Relations

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