It is deeply moving that you are honouring me on my 96th birthday and 11 years after I helped to launch this media colloquium.

With this year's anniversaries of both the Potsdam agreement and the 2plus4 agreement, much has been said here today about high hopes dashed for a new order of peaceful East-West cooperation. And when these exchanges continue tomorrow under the aegis of the Herrhausen Gesellschaft, the focus will again be on the fault lines between Europe/America and Russia, as well as on European integration, and on social problems in Europe.

However I believe it is vital to look also at the breakdown of world order beyond the central East-west relationship. Neither in 1945,or even 25 years ago at the moment of German reunification, could anyone have envisaged the crisis in the Middle East, and the destructive impact it would have on our societies. Mistakenly we had persuaded ourselves that a new world order had established itself; that we had reached 'the end of history'. When the Arab Spring broke out, many believed that this optimism had been vindicated.

How wrong these optimists were. With the exception of Israel, the Middle East is beset by war, death, destruction, dictatorship. Terrorism spread by El Quaeda and Isis is infecting all our societies. Isis in its quest to establish its Caliphate is deepening divisions within Islam and persecuting ancient Christian communities in the Middle East. The migrant wave of displaced men, women and children who are seeking asylum in Europe has reached unmanageable proportions and is overwhelming our societies.

Israel itself is surrounded by those who seek its destruction. The hoped-for peace settlement is beyond reach, and anti-Semitism is spreading throughout the world; not least in Europe.

Terrorism and asylum seekers are all-too vivid reminders that Europe cannot insulate itself against these developments. Germany’s warm embrace of the thousands of refugees daily arriving in its railway stations is an extraordinarily generous response to the outreach of the war in Syria. And this afternoon's Prize for Charlie Hebdo surely brought home that terrorism respects no boundaries, and that there are no safe havens. Our very existence is under challenge. Yet Europe remains supine: happy to agonise about war and strife in the Middle East, but reluctant to take effective action.

We cannot afford this passivity. Germany cannot afford to cling to pacifism. Neither the United States nor Europe can afford to hide behind budgetary concerns or behind a reluctance to engage in war. We are already at war, and I am firmly convinced that determined military intervention against Isis and unequivocal support for Israel are essential if anything approaching peace, order and our comfortable lives in Europe are to survive. I also believe that the basic moral credo to which we all subscribe demands of us that we act.

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