In his Christmas address to the nation, German President Horst Köhler spoke about the tumultuous political changes in the past year, lessons learned and the challenges ahead -- including winning the soccer World Cup.
Köhler said Germans should be a force for good
"This Christmas, we look back on a year in which much has happened. In Germany, there was a lot of political turmoil, but now we have a viable government made up of the two largest parties, and both are willing to get down to business. For the first time, our country has a female chancellor.
Members of the government are beginning to overcome their political differences. Perhaps this is a good way of finding new solutions to our problems.
Traveling around the country, I often meet people working together to achieve something for their communities. They do not let differing political philosophies get in their way.
This civil attitude should be an example for us all. Then we can see how changes can be made together, and things will work out.
We all know that Germany faces an uphill task. Politicians have much work ahead of them and bear significant responsibilities. But we should remember that it will not be like magic, it will take hard work and time.
Our country is moving forward. Our goal is clear: for decades Germany led Europe and that's where we want to be again. That creates both jobs and security.
...In the coming year, we hope to become soccer world champions. We will be host to the world and we can show that Germany is an open, dynamic and fair country.
We know that united we are strong. If we rally together, are open to ideas, are willing to work hard, and listen to one another and help one another, then we can bring those of us who are on the fringe, feeling alone and awful, back into the fold. Our thoughts are with them.
Much has changed in the world this year. We lost Pope John Paul II. And along with people around the world, we took joy in his successor, our countryman, Pope Benedict XVI. We have Dresden's Church of Our Lady once more, because people around the world were convinced of that idea.
And we were humbled by the power of nature: in the southern United States and in Central America, in Pakistan and especially in the Indian Ocean.
The tsunami showed how fragile our world is and how vulnerable human beings.
...Many of our fellow citizens are providing help around the world in Germany's name to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.
That serves Germany as well, because we are all interdependent, whether we're European or American, Asian or African. The ski-jumper Jens Weissflog once said, "You can only jump as far as you have traveled in your mind."
This thought should encourage us in our efforts to help people struggling with poverty, here and everywhere in the world. We want to be a force for good.
But first, let us celebrate Christmas. Find time and relaxation both for yourself and others. Christmas is a celebration of peace, goodwill and faith. I wish us all the ability to both give and receive these things.
A happy and blessed Christmas wherever you are!"