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"Two countries, one community of values"

Exclusive interview with James Baker for KAS.de

Former US Secretary of State James Baker sees the relationship between the United States and Germany as "still strong": "There are differences in any relationship. Between steadfast allies we have our differences with countries that have been allies as long as Britain has been an ally to the US", said Baker in an interview with the online department of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung yesterday in Leipzig.

It's unrealistic to think that two strong and allied nations wouldn't have their differences. "But the German-US alliance is really the foundation of the transatlantic alliance. It is based on a community of values – the values of freedom that we are celebrating today here in Leipzig, the protest that led to freedom which in turn led to the fall of the wall and the unification of Germany. Those values include freedom, support and respect for democracy, the free enterprise system, the rule of law. So there’s more to the US-German relationship than just a few discrete specific issues. We are two countries that share a community of values."

Transcript: Interview with James Baker

We are glad to have you here and that we can talk to you. I’m from the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. I lead the foundation here in Dresden, in Leipzig. We are currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall. This event started a process which led to the end of the Cold War and the German Unification. We appreciate that the US has accompanied us on our path. So I have one question: how would you describe or assess the relationship between the US and Germany at present?

Baker: I think that the relationship between the US and Germany continues to be very strong. There are differences, but you know there are differences in any relationship. Between steadfast allies we have our differences with countries that have been allies as long as Britain has been an ally to the US. It is unrealistic to think that two strong countries that happen to be allies are not going to have some differences. But the German-US alliance is really the foundation of the transatlantic alliance. It is based on a community of values – the values of freedom that we are celebrating today here in Leipzig, the protest that led to freedom which in turn led to the fall of the wall and the unification of Germany. Those values include freedom, support and respect for democracy, the free enterprise system, the rule of law. So there’s more to the US-German relationship than just a few discrete specific issues. We are two countries that share a community of values. So I would say to you that the relationship is strong. Are there some tensions? Yes. Are they worse than they have ever been? No. They have been worse in the past. But we’ve survived, we’ve surmounted all that because of this community of values and the positions we share on so many principles. So I think the relationship is strong.

Does Europe, especially Germany accept its responsibility in the world or are we self-absorbed with our inner structure?

Baker: I think Germany in the past has always ponied up, if I can say so, to its responsibilities in the world and I don’t for one minute doubt that it’s going to do so again. And it’s very important that they do so. Germany is now perhaps, not perhaps, it’s the strongest economy in the European Union. So if Germany is not on board, if Germany does not act, quite often the EU won’t act. We need a strong Germany, we need a Germany that can and will live up to its commitments and to its responsibilities and I for one do not doubt that it will.

Thank you very much.

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