Dear friends of Germany, liebe Freunde und Freundinnen Deutschlands,
A few days prior to Christmas and shortly before the leap into 2019, I would like to take the opportunity to pause with you and look back on what lies behind, but also to look ahead to what awaits us.
My family and I arrived here in Toronto in September after three years as German Ambassador to Croatia; quite a change for all of us. However, our first and still fresh impressions of Canada and especially Toronto are very promising, and we look forward to the coming years in this open and diverse metropolis.
For many years Germany has been discussing how to cope with migration and how to better integrate people fleeing war or political prosecution. By now almost 20 percent of the German population has a migratory background.
In Toronto more than half of the population was not born in Canada. It is a wonderful experience to see how an open, warm-hearted and tolerant society works in my new country of residence. German political delegations, who visited Ontario this year, therefore were very interested in learning about Canada’s approach to the migration topic.
They also, of course, focussed on further improving business relations and on fostering scientific exchange. Canada will continue to be an important partner for Europe and Germany, the provisional application of the CETA trade agreement between EU and Canada is an important step in this regard.
Canada and Germany share the same values and we take a decisive stand against hate slogans, discrimination, xenophobic or anti-Semitic attacks.
Politics, society, global environmental developments and international relations will continue to present us with challenges in 2019. To cope with them, we need more international cooperation, not less. In this spirit we will work together in the years to come.
Germany looks forward to celebrating some important anniversaries in the coming year:
In 2019 we will commemorate with great joy 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall - three decades as a reunified Germany. There will also be several anniversaries of the German media, such as 70 years of the German Press Agency, 60 years of Tagesschau or 25 years of Deutschland Radio - decisive milestones reflecting the importance of freedom of the press, a crucial value which we must always protect. We should not forget that also in 2018 journalists were killed or arrested just because they did their job. Many other people were killed in armed conflicts, in terrorist attacks or died while fleeing war. Our thoughts are with them and their families. We all hope that 2019 will be a more peaceful year.
I wish you and your families wonderful holidays and a healthy year 2019!
Merry Christmas und frohe Weihnachten.
Be well and pursue your personal dreams.
Thomas E. Schultze
German Consul General to Ontario and Manitoba