German President Underscores Israel′s Right to Exist | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 07.05.2008
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German President Underscores Israel's Right to Exist

Israel's right to exist remains a fundamental element of German foreign policy, President Horst Koehler said in a congratulatory message marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Jewish state on May 8.

Horst Koehler standing in front of German and Israeli flags

Germany's head of state stressed the need to take responsibility for the past

"Germany stands up for the right of Israeli citizens to enjoy a life of peace within secure borders," the president said ahead of Thursday's celebrations. "A central prerequisite for this is an end to the violence in the Middle East."

Koehler said Germany firmly supported all efforts to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict.

"The path to peace is via a two-state solution that includes an Israel whose security and existence is guaranteed, and a viable Palestinian state within recognized borders and with good-neighborly relations to Israel," he said.

Trusting relationship established

The president said Germany and Israel today enjoyed a partnership of trust, something that was not self-evident in view of crimes committed by Germans against the Jews during World War II. Germans and Israelis today shared the memory of the Holocaust and the common belief in a world that should never allow such a crime to be repeated, Koehler said.

Peres in front of a group of photographers

Peres will be in Germany later this year

"We acknowledge our responsibility for the past and for the future," he said.

This meant that ordinary citizens and those in responsible positions in politics and society should raise their voice against deniers of the Holocaust, intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism, he said.

"It means that we need to keep alive the memory and pass it on so that future generations remain alert," the German president noted.

Future forum planned

Koehler said only those who took responsibility for the past could gain confidence for the future.

The president also disclosed plans for a German-Israeli "forum for the future," which was meant to intensify cooperation between young Germans and Israelis in the fields of economics, science and culture. He said the forum would be inaugurated jointly with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is due to pay a state visit to Germany in September.

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