East Room Washington D.C. July 15 5:16 P.M. EDT
Thank you all. Please have a seat. Today, it's been my great honor — and I mean that — to welcome a dear friend back to the White House.
And before I say anything else, Chancellor Merkel, I want to express to you and to the people of Germany my sincere condolences and the condolences of the American people for the devastating loss of life and the destruction due to the flooding over the past 24 hours in Germany and neighboring countries. It's a tragedy, and our heart goes out — our hearts go out to the families who've lost loved ones.
Chancellor Merkel has been here frequently over the past 16 years. Matter of fact, she knows the Oval Office as well as I do. But all kidding aside, through — though this administration — she's been there for four years — for four Presidents.
But I want to take a moment to acknowledge the historic nature of her chancellorship. First woman chancellor in German history. The first chancellor from the former East Germany. And now, the second largest — longest-serving chancellor since Helmut Kohl. Here's an exemplary life of groundbreaking service to Germany and, I might add — and I mean it from the bottom of my heart — to the world.
On behalf of the United States, thank you, Angela, for your career of strong, principled leadership. And thank you for speaking out for what is right and for never failing to defend human dignity.
And I want to thank you for your continued support for the longstanding goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. You've been a stalwart champion of the Transatlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Partnership.
Under your chancellorship, the friendship and cooperation between Germany and the United States has grown stronger and stronger.
And I'm looking forward to celebrating more at our dinner this evening, but today was very much a working visit. Chancellor Merkel and I covered a wide range of issues where Germany and United States are working to advance a shared agenda. We discussed, together with our fellow major democracies at the G7, Germany and the United States have responsibilities to lead with our values, as do the other members of NATO.
And today, I've — I've confided that in our new Washington Declaration, which we've codified — a document affirming our commitment to the democratic principles that are the heart — that are at the heart of both of our nations, and how we will apply them to meet the biggest challenges of today and tomorrow.
Both our nations — both our nations understand the imperative of proving that democracies can deliver the needs of our people in the second quarter of the 21st century. We will stand up for democratic principles and universal rights when we see China or any other country working to undermine free and open societies.
And we are united — united in our commitment to addressing democratic backsliding, corruption, phony populism in the European Union or among candidates for the EU membership or anywhere we find it in the world.
We agree on the importance of further integrating the Western Balkans into the European — into European institutions and in our continued support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the continued importance of reforms in the support of their Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
We stand together and will continue to stand together to defend our Eastern Flank allies at NATO against Russian aggression. And while I rere- — while I reiterated my concerns about Nord Stream 2, Chancellor Merkel and I are absolutely united in our conviction that Russia must not be allowed to use energy as a weapon to coerce or threaten its neighbors.
And today, we're launching a climate and energy partnership to support energy security and the development of sustainable energy, sustainable energy technologies, and emerging — and emerging economies, including in Central Europe and Ukraine.
To unite our efforts to upend and — on our global climate ambitions that we have to up-the-ante, what happened is we talked about when Paris Accord was set, we thought we had established just how serious it was, but things have gotten much more dire since even that date. And to unite our efforts to update and to up-the-ante on global climate — on global climate ambitions.
I also thank Chancellor Merkel for the dedication and the sacrifice of German troops who have served side by side along with U.S. forces in Afghanistan for almost 20 years.
And we reaffirmed our shared commitment to continuing to counter terrorist threats where we find them, including in the Sahel in Africa.
And we — when we think about the future, the future we want for the world, there is no issue — there's no issue set at all that I believe we find anything other than the certainty that a commitment that — between the United States and Germany doesn't benefit whatever the problem or the concern is.
We need to fight COVID-19 pandemic everywhere, to strengthen global health security for tomorrow so we're ready for the next pandemic.
We need to make sure that the rules of the road governing the use of emerging technologies advance freedom, not authoritarianism and repression.
And we need to promote a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery that enhances the prosperity and opportunity for all.
And so much more.
This just — this isn't just the work of governments, the work is the work of our peoples, sharing their innovation and insights, joining together to amplify our collective impact.
So today, we're launching a Futures Forum between our two countries, which will bring together top experts across business, academia, civil society, and more to collaborate as we shape our shared future.
Madam Chancellor, I know that the partnership between Germany and United States will continue to grow stronger on the foundation that you have helped to build. But on a personal note, I must tell you, I'll miss seeing you at our summits. I truly will.
So, thank you again, Angela, for making the journey, for our productive meeting today, and for your friendship.
(As interpreted.) Mr. President, dear Joe, first of all, I would like to thank you most warmly for the condolences and the empathy you expressed as regards the victims to the floodings in Germany.
And I would like to ask for your understanding that I need to address this matter with a few words because, in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, the day is already drawing to a close — a day that is characterized by fear, by despair, by suffering. And hundreds of thousands of people, all of a sudden, were faced with catastrophe. Their houses were literally death traps. Small rivers turned into flooded, devastating rivers.
And I must say that my empathy and my heart goes out to all of those who, in this catastrophe, lost their loved ones or who are still worrying about the fate of people still missing.
And I include Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands who've also suffered from floodings.
The rescuers, first responders are doing their utmost to help people. I must say that I'm very much feeling with those who've suffered, and I know that millions of people in Germany feel the same.
The Minister-Presidents Ms. Dreyer and Mr. Laschet, Minister-Presidents of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia, respectively, and also the ministers who were responsible here — I talked to them, and I would like to send out a message to the people that we will not leave them alone with their suffering and that we're trying our utmost to help them in their distress.
Mr. President, dear Joe, thank you for the invitation. Thank you for making it possible to talk to you. It's my first visit since 2019, and I'm so much — so happy about the personal exchange we have seen again today that we're not only partners and allies, but we're very close friends. And thank you for the very friendly exchange that we had this afternoon.
We all share the same values. We all share the same determination to tackle the challenges of our times, to master them. And I'm deeply convinced that simply committing to these values is certainly not sufficient. We are living at a crucial moment in time where we are facing new challenges, and these challenges need to be translated into practical policies.
So I'm very grateful that we have this opportunity to work on foundations. And we lay down those foundations in the Washington Declaration, and also how we see the road ahead, and also measures. And I think that this Futures Forum will deal with those issues. Our societies will discuss together what sort of solutions they think appropriate, and I think such structures are very important.
There is a very large degree of common ground, as has come out of our talks. We are convinced, both of us, that overcoming this pandemic is only possible if as many people as possible are vaccinated in our countries, and many wish to do that.
We have to also support the rest of the world with vaccines. We work together with COVAX. And I'm very grateful to the United States that, under your leadership, dear Joe, the U.S. has committed itself very clearly and unequivocally to multilateralism, be it on climate, be it on reform of the World Health Organization, and support also to WTO.
Germany and the United States have agreed to provide vaccine doses to poorer countries; we work within COVAX, as I said.
We talked about the challenge of climate change. And I am very happy that the United States are now back again with us in the Paris Climate Agreement and for Glasgow. That provides us with a totally different basis in order to work among the parties to the treaty better — in a much better and much more efficient way for climate.
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