Full transcript of the 2009 Freedom’s Challenge dinner and awards ceremony.


  • Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council
  • Thomas Enders, President and CEO, Airbus
  • Horst Teltschik, Former National Security Advisor to German Chancellor Helmut Kohl
  • Brent Scowcroft, Former National Security Advisor; Chairman, Atlantic Council International Advisory Board
  • Zbigniew Brzezinski, Former National Security Advisor; Member, Atlantic Council International Advisory Board
  • Tom Brokaw, Journalist and reporter, NBC
  • Klaus Wowereit, Mayor of Berlin
  • Bronislaw Misztal, Executive Director, Permanent Secretariat, Community of Democracies (accepted award on behalf of Lech Walesa, former President of Poland)
  • Toomas Hendrik Ilves, President of Estonia
  • Alexandr Vondra, former Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic (accepted award on behalf of Vaclav Havel, former President of the former Czechoslovakia; former President of the Czech Republic)
  • Aleksander Kwasniewski, former President of Poland; member of Atlantic Council International Advisory Board
  • Admiral James Stavridis, Commander, U.S. European Command; Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO
  • Alan Spence, CEO, Newsdesk Media Group
  • Philip Murphy, U.S. Ambassador to Germany
  • Guido Westerwelle, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Germany
  • Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State; former U.S. National Security Advisor; member of Atlantic Council Board of Directors
  • Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

November 8, 2009

FREDERICK KEMPE:  (Translated from German.)  My name is Fred Kempe, president and CEO of this Atlantic Council, and at the beginning of this evening I’m going to make a few introductory remarks in German, my parent’s language.  Sadly, though, this is not a language I learned at home, because new German arrivals in America tried even harder than anyone else to really get into the melting pot that was America.  So please forgive any little mistakes I may make.

On behalf of the Atlantic Council and Sen. Chuck Hagel, our chairman of the – chairman of our international advisory board, Brent Scowcroft, we would like to Germany on 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  We also congratulate Germany on almost 20 years of unity and freedom.  Not a single one here could have dreamt of this 21 years ago, even in our wildest dreams.  We could not have expected the waves of freedom which would then subsume the whole continent.  Just imagine that tonight, the president of an independent Estonia or a free Estonia is with us here tonight.  We have democratic member countries of the European Union and of NATO all being led into the future.

This is the proof that miracles can become true if the right trailblazers are there, the right brave hearts in different nations unified behind the flag of freedom, and in this context, Chancellor Angela Merkel is truly a child of the Communist world, but she was the first German politician who was present at a joint session of Congress and took the floor there.  In a very profound speech which moved the American people deeply, she also mentioned where there used to be a dark wall, suddenly a door opened and all of us walked through that door.

Twenty years since this overwhelming gift of freedom have passed now, but still, there is nothing that makes me more enthusiastic, nothing that incentivizes me more, nothing that gives me more positive feelings than the power of freedom.  And now I’m going to change from my mother’s language into my mother tongue.  (Applause.)

(Speaking in English.)  Tonight is about what Chancellor Merkel so movingly called the – (in German) – the power of freedom.  However, the intention of the Atlantic Council’s Inaugural Freedom Awards is not just to celebrate the past but also to consider the implications for the future, and that is why we are so delighted that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will use this evening to deliver a very important speech on the meaning of this anniversary.  It is an honor to have us with you, Madame Secretary.  (Applause.)  

Underscoring the importance of tonight’s message for the world, we received a message for tonight for you, Secretary Clinton, from the president of the Republic of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  In it she said, quote, “I have heard some argue that the policy of your great presidents – Wilson, Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Reagan – of promoting democracy abroad was relevant in its contemporary context but no longer retains a place in the 21st century.”

But I am here as living proof to tell you that if the U.S. were to lose its will and go quiet on issues of liberty and human rights, that this would shake the foundations of democracy around the world.  Liberia is proud to be part of the trans-Atlantic community.  The people of Liberia and the people of Africa know that it is in partnership with friends and allies who share these important values we will continue to work until all of our children enjoy the blessing of peace and prosperity, of freedom and democracy.

It is of course fitting, Secretary Clinton, that your fellow awardees tonight, also representing their courageous peoples and constituencies, are the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle – congratulations on your important new position, Minister Westerwelle, at this historic moment – (applause) – the Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit; the NATO Supreme Allied Command Europe, Adm. James Stavridis; and the great European heroes of freedom, Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel.  

We already knew Vaclav Havel, because of health issues, was not able to travel, and his award will be accepted on behalf of the Czech and Slovak peoples – well, Sasha, I’m not sure you can do it on behalf of the Slovak peoples, but we’ll deal with that later – (laughter) – will be by Alexandr Vondra, a great democracy hero himself and a friend of many of us in the room and former foreign minister; and Lech Walesa, who we have just heard is taken ill, and his award will be accepted by Bronislaw Misztal, the head of the Secretariat of the Community of Democracies.

When I was a Wall Street Journal correspondent, one of my several interviews with Lech Walesa came while he was under house arrest following martial law.  He had slipped away to the local cleric’s home to meet me.  He was oddly serene, almost happy, given that his country seemed to have lost its shot of freedom.

Poland and Poles were depressed.  He said to me in words inspired by the Bible’s Ecclesiastes, “I come from a farming family, and you learn in farming that there are times when you plant potatoes and when you harvest potatoes.  We are planting potatoes.”  And then several years later came the harvest.  So we celebrate that harvest and we thank Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel.  (Applause.)  

But we are really looking forward, not just reflecting backward.  Thus we chose the name for this evening and for the remarkable publication that you will see before you, or actually under your seats and hopefully now on your tables, “Freedom’s Challenge.”

Now let me read for you a message for this gathering tonight from President Barack Obama, prepared for us this evening and also in the publication in this – the second page of the publication that you have with you.

He said, quote, “The year 1989 was pivotal in the 20th century and world history.  Poland held a historic parliamentary election that ended Communist rule.  Hungary boldly cut the barbed-wire fence separating it from Austrian, drawing back from the Iron Curtain.  Germans from both sides of the Berlin Wall breached the barrier that divided them and began the process of reuniting their country. And with the Velvet Revolution in then-Czechoslovakia, Central and East Europeans chose freedom over oppression, liberty over captivity, and hope over despair.

“I am proud of the role the United States played in 1989 and the years that followed.  Today, Central and Eastern Europe are firmly anchored in the Euro-Atlantic institutions of NATO and the European Union.  Our countries are bound together by our shared commitment to human dignity and freedom and by the security pledges that lie at the core of the Atlantic Alliance.”

President Obama then concludes, “The lessons of 1989 are clear.  Democracy will ultimately triumph over authoritarianism and ordinary people can be powerful agents for change.  I congratulate the leaders and citizens who inspired and participated in the revolutions of 1989.  We honor their courage and continue to draw strength from their example as we, in concert with our allies and partners, advance the causes of justice and liberty around the world.  On this occasion, America reaffirms its enduring commitment to our shared vision of a peaceful Europe – Poland free.”  President Barack Obama.  (Applause.)  

As I was reading that I was thinking, good heavens, I can never deliver this as well as he would.

Before I pass to Atlantic Council Co-chair of this evening’s event, Tom Enders, president and CEO of Airbus, let me thank the fellow co-chairs, honorary co-chairs and partner organizations who are listed in the program.  Thanks also to our dinner co-chair, Alan Spence, chief executive officer of Newsdesk Media, the publisher of the publication you received today and our partners in organizing tonight’s dinner.

It is now my pleasure to hand over to one of the dinner co-chairs, Tom Enders.  This is his day job, at Airbus.  We are also fortunate to have him as a member of our International Advisory Board and co-chair of our Strategic Advisors Group with Sen. Chuck Hagel.  (Applause.)  

TOM ENDERS:  Thank you very much, Fred.  Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a privilege to be with this distinguished group here tonight, and I feel particularly honored, Fred, that you picked me to speak a few introductory words, for whatever reasons.

First of all, I would like to commend the Atlantic Council and Fred Kempe in particular for this great initiative, the Freedom’s Challenge, and for picking the right place and the right time to inaugurate this important initiative.

Secondly, ladies and gentlemen, you should know that the Atlantic Council is not only good at setting up organized galas, board ceremonies in a very short period of time; I think we can proudly say that today is also the preeminent forum and think tank for discussing the future of the Atlantic Alliance and the new strategic concept.

Thirdly – and I have only two minutes left, Fred, right, three minutes – Fred asked me for a few personal remarks:  How did I live, experience reunification, that exciting time some 20 years ago?  Well, Fred, I do that in a certain sense.  I will talk about – the Freedom’s Challenge is about heroes of freedom, right?  I will talk about my two personal heroes of the time.

And Fred started in German.  My mother’s language is German.  My mother tongue is German.  So if I may, I’ll switch to German now.  

 (Translated from German.)  So one of these two heroes that I would like to mention was somebody who just a few weeks after the wall had come down in November 1989 asked me to serve on the planning staff of the minister of defense in Germany.  And I must say, I spent a good 12 months in this planning group, and they are still some of the most exciting periods in my whole life.  

But that alone did not make this person a hero, that he appointed me to serve on his staff, but what the man I’m talking about really did is something which is in the best tradition of Prussian lack of obedience – and I’m saying this carefully –  

(Speaking in English.)  Military reunification between both parts of Germany.

(Translated from German.)  This is something which he started thinking about and which he planned, and he did this at a time when it was politically incorrect, as we would call it these days, to discuss anything like a military reunification, because in those days, there was still some very important politicians said, the absolute maxim we could get if the countries were to reunite would be a sort of neutral state of Germany, or at any rate, a neutral status for the parts of Germany which are former East Germany.

From the third of October, 1997, he has been able – 1979 – he has been able to act as the head of the German army, Eastern command.  He dissolved the NVA People’s Army of East Germany and he started transforming them and moving people over from the former East German Army into the West Germany Army.  And he managed it, he planned it all, and he said, he did it – what he called a hot heart but a cool mind, a cool head, and as someone who came from Brandenburg with a true Prussian spirit.

The person I’m talking about is none other than a former minister, and today I can call him a general again, Gen. Jörg Schönbohm.  General, please, would you perhaps rise from your chair?  (Applause.)  And my other hero, ladies and gentlemen, from those days gone by is here in front of this table, that’s Horst Teltschik.  At the time, he was the former security policy advisor of the German chancellor.  And a long time before reunification, people called him, with respect, Helmut Kohl’s Henry Kissinger, in inverted commas.  

He spent a lot of effort and time, together with his small team and with his colleagues in America and many other countries, to set in motion the foreign security political scene so that the third of October, 1990 saw the official unification of the two Germanys, and Herr Horst, at the weekend, I read about this in your book, “329 Days” it is entitled, because that’s the number of days between November 9th and October 3rd.  And I leaf through the pages of your book again, and reading it makes one remember that actually, there was no automatic sequence between the wall coming down on November 9th and the reunification of Germany 11 months later.  There were some very critical milestones where developments could have gone a very different way, a much more negative way.  Ladies and gentlemen, I fear I’ve already exceeded my three minutes.

(Speaking in English.)  Ladies and gentlemen, welcome with me to the stage Professor Horst Teltschik.

HORST TELTSCHIK:  Thank you very much, Tom, for your friendship.

Presidents, prime ministers, Secretary Clinton, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is the second time this year that I am asked to address an awards gala dinner of the Atlantic Council of the United States.  The first one was in April in Washington and now here in Berlin.  The Atlantic Council loves to celebrate – (laughter) – but, indeed, Fred, you have good reasons for that, mainly in this year and for sure next year as well.

Eighty-nine, as President Obama has already said in his message, was an exceptional year because of the first free elected democratic government within the Warsaw Pact in Poland, because of the opening of the Hungarian border, because of the peaceful revolution of the people in the GDR, because of the fall of the wall, because of the liberalization movement in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, and because of the courage of President Gorbachev not to intervene anymore and to let things go.  It was a miracle.  Not one shot was fired.

Therefore, it is a real honor for me to welcome President Walesa.  He should have been here.  Sorry.  He was the first in 1980, a real hero at that time, starting the mass movement Solidarność.  He had told Chancellor Kohl in Warsaw just a few hours before the wall came down that Germany will be unified quite soon, referring to the ongoing demonstrations in the GDR and to the 10,000s of people being on the run.  And he was right, and he was ahead of us.

It is a privilege, and today it is the second time for me welcoming the secretary of state, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, to Germany.  On February 13, 2005, Sen. Hillary Clinton gave a speech at my Munich Security Conference, demanding the strengthening of the United Nations.  

I had to fight for her because the other senators had told me that they are senior to her; therefore they will speak, and one of them was McCain.  (Laughter.)  And Hillary Clinton should not be allowed to address a conference.  Well, she could.  And now, Mrs. Secretary, you can do what you demanded in 2005.  

Our new foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, I am sure will support you because he had applauded your speech at the Munich conference.  A warm welcome to you, Mr. Westerwelle.  But he might raise a condition:  the condition that Germany should become, as soon as possible, a permanent member of the Security Council.  (Laughter, scattered applause.)

The fall of the wall happened because of a unique political and personal consolation and because of the unrestricted support of our American friends, and one of them is among us:  Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor at that time.  He is my second hero.  Brent, thanks for all your trust in us.  Thanks for your great friendship.  The Germans and I will never forget what you and all our American friends have done for Germany and for Europe.  

Let me repeat here in Berlin what I have already said in Washington.  My friend Brent Scowcroft once told me that in ’89-’90 in the White House they sometimes held their breath, recognizing what Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his team were doing, but they didn’t interfere because of the mutual trust and ongoing mutual briefings.  

It was one of the best times in the German-U.S. relations.  Well, ladies and gentlemen, a warm welcome to all of you, and congratulations to all of you receiving the freedom award.  Now my old friend Brent takes the floor.  (Applause.)

BRENT SCOWCROFT:  Thank you, Horst, for those kind words.  I have an announcement to make first.  In the tradition of the Atlantic Council, you should start eating now.  (Laughter.)  We do everything with maximum efficiency.  (Laughter.)  Presidents, prime ministers, Secretary Clinton, distinguished guests, it’s a great honor for me to be here at this special occasion.  And thank you, Horst, for those kind words.  

Horst and I, during the critical time that we’re celebrating now, used to be in almost daily contact with each other.  I had a telephone on my desk.  I picked it up; it automatically rang on Horst’s desk.  And that was critical, in fact, because we understood each other.  We understood our hopes and our fears – what might work and what might not work, and I think that was critical in the way things proceeded.

I’d like to congratulate all the recipients of this wonderful award this year, and may I add my welcome to that of Dr. Enders to everybody on behalf of Sen. Hagel, who unfortunately could not be here to this inaugural of the Atlantic Council’s Freedom’s Awards celebration.

This is truly a moment for celebration of freedom and democracy.  The primary thing we’re doing is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It is also the year of the 60th anniversary of NATO, and for us Americans, to me at least it’s a celebration of the return to prominence and dynamism of the Atlantic Council of the United States.

This should not only be a commemoration; it is also a great moment to look ahead.  As I said, the Atlantic Council has regained its stride and will continue its energetic effort to maintain and invigorate the Atlantic Partnership.  And we hope for reciprocation from our German friends as well as all of those from the rest of the alliance.  

NATO itself is busy developing a new strategic concept, looking ahead to a very different world from that not only of its founding 60 years ago but that following the events which we celebrate tonight.  

Last week I participated in Washington with former Prime Minister Genscher and former Mayor Momper in a celebration and remembrances of the fall of the wall, which we commemorate tomorrow.  We each told war stories about what happened.

We’ve come a long way since then, but we still have a long way to go, and not all is better than it was 20 years ago.  And the example that I cite is that we no longer have an intimacy of dialogue, which we had in 1989.  I told you about Horst and I, but President Bush and Chancellor Kohl were in frequent communication with each other.  

We had a serious dialogue, which now, unfortunately, is relatively missing.  I think it’s important that we restore that closeness in order that we all can face, in unity, the challenges confronting us in a very different and difficult world.

And now, it is my distinct pleasure – oh, there you are – to introduce to you Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to President Carter, a dear friend and a colleague since 1953.  Zbig?  (Applause.)  

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI:  Ladies and gentlemen, as we gather here tonight to celebrate the triumph of freedom, the greatest surge in the scope of freedom since the famous Spring of Nations of 1848.  I would like to share with you some personal reflections about what I would like to call the soul of freedom, the inner spirit of freedom.

I do so because I am convinced that the triumph of freedom is derived from the commitment that all of us partook to the notion of reconciliation among peoples, while preserving fidelity to historical truth.  The combination of the two made possible what we honor tonight.

The scope of freedom, which has so been dramatically enlarged in the course of events that involved ultimately the fall of the wall in 1989, would not have been possible if earlier there hadn’t been a sustained effort to promote Franco-German reconciliation after years and decades of conflict.  

If that hadn’t been followed by courageous initiatives to close the enormous gaps between the Germans and the Poles and to promote a genuine, living, enduring German-Polish reconciliation; if that hadn’t been followed subsequently by efforts, still in their early stages but important nonetheless, to promote reconciliation with the Russians between Americans and Russians and Europeans and Russians.

And that reconciliation, in turn, would not have been possible if it hadn’t been based on fidelity to historical truth, the necessity of courageously confronting the crimes of the past, the injustices of the past, the suffering inflicted on millions in our common history.  That required – (applause) – that required real courage.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

MR. KEMPE:  To have such individuals on my board and International Advisory Board makes my job each and every day such a pleasure.  

We’re now pleased to show you a special video produced by NBC.  Horst did tell you that we gave an award earlier this year, our Distinguished International Leadership Award, shared by George H.W. Bush and Helmut Kohl.  Tonight we’re giving other awards, but I think what this video captures is that there are actually millions of awards to be given for this period of time.

It’s an honor to have a journalist and legend here, in his own right, tonight – Tom Brokaw – who stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate 20 years ago reporting on these historic events.  And it’s most fitting that after this video he will introduce the Freedom Award to the citizens of Berlin for their courage and determination, and it will be accepted here this evening by Major Klaus Wowereit.  Let the video roll, please.



TOM BROKAW:  Thank you all very much.  Madame Secretary, distinguished guests, it’s a real privilege for me to be here.  It was 20 years ago that I came to Berlin because there was so much turmoil on the Eastern side of the wall.  

I would like to say that I had a prescient moment; I knew that the wall would come down.  Unfortunately, that was not exactly the case, but I did have the good fortune to be the only correspondent really in the world with live satellite capacity that night at the Brandenburg Gate.  It was one of the memorable moments in my journalistic career and I count it every day of my life as a great privilege to have been there.

If you will permit me just one small moment, however, I would like to tell you that when there are epic events, it doesn’t always play out in the way that it may seem when we later present it on television.

The East German guards had assembled on the Eastern side of the wall at the Brandenburg Gate, and when the Western students first climbed atop the wall to encourage members of their generation to come across, the East German guards unleashed their water cannon on them and drove them back, with the exception of one young man, who stood there in a leather jacket, his arms outstretched, taking the full force of the water hoses.

I said to one of my colleagues, go get him, bring him over here; we’ll put him on television.  He is as symbol of the new post-communist world.  I could envision his picture on Time Magazine and books being written about him.  

My colleague came back 30 seconds later doubled over and said, it’s not what we think.  I said, what do you mean?  He said, he’s a drunk who has been living over here in the forest near the wall.  (Laughter.)  He has no idea what’s going on but he’s not had a shower – (laughter) – he’s not had a shower in a month and he’s very grateful for the hosing down.  (Laughter, applause.)

It was for me, however, not just a personal and journalistic moment to savor.  It was also, as days and months and years went by, something that as a citizen of the world and as a student of my time – I am, after all, a child of the Cold War – it was something for me to savor for other reasons, because when I reflected on it and remembered not a tank rolled, not a shot was fired, no one was hanged in the streets of the Eastern Sector in the days that followed.

It was a great tribute to the people who are here tonight in our presence.  It was especially a great tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev, to Helmut Kohl, and to President George Bush 41, men whose diplomatic and political sensibilities have been forged in the cruel and devastating realities of World War II and the Cold War.  And they found a way through that time peacefully.

And I believe in so doing, they left a legacy that is underappreciated now and it is time for us to remember all that they gave to the world in their management of what could have been one more terrible crisis in our world.

And we’re here tonight as well to pay tribute to the people of this remarkable city.  When you think this vibrant cosmopolitan city and all that it has been through in the last century, that it was able to absorb their fellow citizens from the east in the gracious manner that it did, it is a tribute to these people that cannot be fully appreciated even now.  

And it helped launch the political career of the mayor of the city of Berlin.  Klaus Wowereit was a young man who was at dinner that night, it turns out, with someone from the GDR who had managed to come in to West Berlin.  There were some people who were able to come in and go back again.  And when he was called by a neighbor of his and told what had happened, he believed, as so many did, that it was a joke.

He now of course is one of the brightest stars on the German political horizon, and it’s my privilege now to introduce to you the mayor of this great city so that he can accept this courage award on behalf of all of his constituents.  Mr. Mayor?  (Applause.)  

KLAUS WOWEREIT:  Secretary Clinton, Vice Chancellor Westerwelle, President Kempe, Excellencies, distinguished guests – thank you very much, Tom Brokaw, for your kind words, for that moving introduction.  On behalf of all Berliners, I would like to thank the Atlantic Council of the United States for this freedom award.  I’m deeply honored to be able to accept this award on behalf of the people of Berlin.

We have just seen the familiar images of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That brought back the happiest moment in Berlin’s history.  The wall had separated families, friends and neighbors for decades, and on the night of November 9, 1989, they were reunited.  Our happiness and rejoicing knew no bounds.  The GDR rulers had locked up and oppressed the population, but the longing for freedom and democracy proved to be stronger than the wall and state censorship.  

Wolf Biermann, a well-known critic of the GDR regime and one of Berlin’s honorary citizens has said, “We were few in number and we were afraid but the desire for freedom was greater than the fear.  A few individuals led the way in the GDR, in Poland, in the Soviet Union, in Hungary and in Czechoslovakia.”

Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel have also been honored tonight.  Both of them are extraordinary freedom fighters and Berlin salutes them.  Their actions gave people in East Berlin the courage to overcome their fears and to take to the streets in support of freedom, and not only in Berlin and in the GDR.  

The peaceful revolution of 1989 was a freedom movement that spread throughout Europe and it helped to speed up the process of European integration.  My thanks ought to go to the United States of America.  It has always been a loyal friend to Berlin, and that is especially true of the difficult years when the city was divided by the Iron Curtain.  After 13 years of Nazi dictatorship and barbarism, America brought Berlin peace and freedom.  

America played a decisive role in making West Berlin an island of freedom and democracy.  America’s presidents condemned the wall and were committed to achieving freedom for people in East Berlin and the GDR.  President John F. Kennedy encouraged and inspired the people of Berlin when he stood in front of the Schōneberger Town Hall in 1963 and said, “All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’”

On November 9, 1989, free people everywhere were citizens of all of Berlin.  Once the wall had fallen, it was the American president, George Bush, Sr., who supported the reunification of Berlin and Germany clearly and unconditionally on behalf of the American people.  Without American support, the reunification of Germany and Berlin would still be only a dream.

The people of Berlin know that, and that is why they are grateful to the United States for everything it has done for the city.  We will always remember Americans’ commitment to this city, especially on historic dates like November 9th, the day the wall fell 20 years ago.

Our close trans-Atlantic ties live on in the activities of countless networks and organizations, and the Atlantic Council of the United States make a wider contribution to these.  The fact that these Freedom’s Challenge Awards are being presented in Berlin on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall is a great honor to the city.  

Berlin has taken advantage of its historic opportunity.  The formerly divided city has grown together.  Twenty-first century Berlin is an exciting metropolis and the place to be for people from all over the world, especially for young people.

We are very proud of this development and tomorrow we will celebrate it before the eyes of a watching world with the marvelous Festival of Freedom at Brandenburg Gate.  At the same time, we know how great a role our friends in America and in Europe played in this miraculous development.  In this spirit I would like to thank the Atlantic Council for this distinguished award.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

MR. KEMPE:  To introduce the award for President Walesa I’m happy to call to the stage Bronislaw Misztal, the executive director of the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies.  He has been engaged for decades in building civil society in countries struggling for democracy worldwide, so very much deserving of an award on his own behalf, but in this case he will accept it on behalf of a sick Lech Walesa and a very well Polish people.  (Applause.)  

 BRONISLAW MISZTAL:  Madame Secretary, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Community of Democracies, I have the honor and pleasure today to introduce President Lech Walesa, the legendary leader of the Polish Solidarity movement and a towering symbol of how can one make the best use of historical adversity for the public and social good?

By awarding him, the Atlantic Council is symbolically awarding all the freedom fighters and pro-democracy activists, who strive to make the world better.  Lech Walesa is not a singular case.  By awarding him today we commend both an individual and the way he has taken advantage of historical circumstances.  

He saw an advantage where others have seen adversities.  He made an opening where others have seen a solid obstacle.  In a very short span of history, nominally from the summer of 1980 until the end of his presidency, he has made a significant contribution to the political culture of the world, to the imaginary vision of what a good society is, and he has made a practical imprint on the minds of almost all people of the world, regardless of their literacy levels, political astuteness or civic engagement.

While democracy existed, petrified and prevailed in a small part of the world known as the West, Lech Walesa has almost single-handedly brought democracy to the rest, brought the concept and the spirit of democracy to the minds of the people for whom – as for myself – it was unthinkable that they too can experience firsthand what a thick and rich texture does the democratic civil society offer.  He brought democracy and freedom to the rest of the world, and he made a significant part of the rest to join the West.  This is what we celebrate today.  

Democracy and freedom form a very particular normative commodity in modern society.  We believe that with the scent of modernity, people yearn for one and desire another, that their lives are ameliorated when the combination of two occurs.

We frequently ask ourselves two questions:  What comes first, democracy or freedom, and which one is hinged upon another?  Do we need democracy first in order to win freedom, or does freedom make a necessary condition for democracy?  And, also, who are the agents of democracy, or whence does the agency lay; in individual minds, in cultural specificity, or is it accidental?  In fact, can history be saved or does it simply happen?

There is also an issue of when does the spectacular breakthrough of democracy or the qualitative improvement occur?  How much freedom do we have to have in order for democracy to make a significant improvement in human lives?  Lech Walesa’s life trajectory is the best testimony to the fact that history is unpredictable, that it simply happens.

Furthermore, Lech Walesa himself, in his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize said, “Despite everything that happens in Poland, I believe that we are determined to have national reconciliation.  My greatest hope is that Poland will regain its chance of peaceful revolution and that this is going to be Poland to demonstrate to the world that dialogue rather than coercion solves even the most difficult situations.”  

And he was true to the word when he was saying that Solidarity is not going to be neither divided nor exterminated.  In fact, when he spoke solidarity, he sought democracy and freedom.  Many years later, at the 25th anniversary of his acceptance of the Nobel Prize, in his final message to the thousands of people, Walesa has proclaimed that lifting the ideas of solidarity to the global level, the Community of Democracies is the natural heir to the task once undertaken by this most spectacular institution of civil society in Poland and maybe throughout the world.

Lech Walesa has also demonstrated that the agency of democracy lies in the minds of individuals, that those are the rebels with a cause, who change the world to the better.  He was also intuitively right to presume that freedom and democracy together build the capacity of the people, that they enhance and can freeze the most precious social capital:  citizenship.  Poles are now the proud and educated citizens of their country, of the European community, and of the global alliance of democratic nations.  

One has to commend the Atlantic Council and its president and CEO, Mr. Fred Kempe, for his extremely thoughtful and farsighted political perspective on the matters global.  By awarding this very prestigious freedom award to Mr. Walesa, we send a message to the world that democracy and freedom matter, that the world needs, out of the box, fresh and new democracy and freedom agenda, and that working on this agenda is the most critical issue for advancing of the trans-Atlantic relations.

As we reflect tonight on the significance of this award and on the historical impact that Mr. Walesa has made on the world, let us not forget that we are all children of democracy, that the majority of the world population has not known the world without Solidarity and without its fundamental contribution to what many of us take for granted:  freedom.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  

MR. KEMPE:  Lech Walesa has just sent us personally his most heartfelt regrets that he wasn’t here.  He’s very sorry he was unable to make it because of his illness.  I cannot accept the award for him but we’re going to find another time where we can get him either in Warsaw, Washington or somewhere else to do that.

Let’s take a break now and please enjoy your main course.

(Break for dinner.)

MR. KEMPE:  I would, first of all, like to tell you that I’ve had about four or five people come by my table and say you’ve really got to thank Tom Brokaw and Klaus Wowereit; they really reminded us what this evening is all about.  And I just want to thank you.  I think that was a really moving moment and just, a terrific exchange.  

To introduce the award to Vaclav Havel and to the then-Czechoslovak peoples, we are honored to have with us tonight President Toomas Ilves of Estonia.  President Ilves’ own life story tracks the Cold War and the end of the Soviet empire.  He was born in Swedish exile of Estonian refugees and educated in the United States before returning to Estonia to become part of its freedom struggle.  

Again, one of the introducers deserves an award in his own right, as well as do the Estonian people.  President Ilves, it’s an honor to call you to the stage.  (Applause.)

TOOMAS ILVES:  Madame Secretary, excellencies, dear friends, Estonians have long found that writers from the Czech and Slovak lands understood particularly well the vicissitudes of the 20th century, be it the absurdities of war described by Jaroslav Hašek in “Švejk,” or the nightmare world of Kafka’s “Der Prozess,” or the absurdist dystopias of Karel Čapek.  

Understanding the world can be painful, as when I read in the early ’90s an essay by Milan Kundera – another Czech – that used the term “estonazace,” or “estoniazation” to describe the systematic destruction of one’s culture by foreign, totalitarian rule.  In the Czech and Slovak lands, it seemed they understood us and everyone else living under totalitarianism all too well.  

Vaclav Havel wrote in 1978, in his classic essay on totalitarian rule, “The Power of the Powerless,” and I quote, “Life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independence, self-constitution and self-organization; in short, toward the fulfillments of its own freedom.  The totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity and discipline.”  

What better way to stand up to conformity, uniformity and discipline than through Bohemian – in all senses of the word – freedom of one’s own spirit?  And what place exemplified this better in 1989 than Vaclav Havel’s theater, The Magic Lantern, one of the many rebirth places of democracy in the 20th century?  

A mixture of the Athenian agora, the Roman forum, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Globe Theater, Monty Python’s Circus, and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters bus, “Further,” The Magic Lantern was a theater, yet it was far more real and alive than the totalitarian world that surrounded it.  

A magical place – a lantern for the democrats of then-Czechoslovakia who, in the course of 24 days, toppled the sluggish, thuggish and stagnant communist regime that had stifled that same vibrant, so modern and European culture of Hašek, Čapek and Kafka, crushed the democratic spirit of Tomas Masaryk and the Prague Spring of 1968.  

And at the center of The Magic Lantern was Vaclav Havel.  Twenty-four days that shook not the world, but brought a velvet, nonviolent curtain down on a theory of ruling the human spirit that had left millions dead and millions and millions more in spiritual chains.  The battle engaged by Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel and hundreds of thousands of Europeans in Berlin, in Budapest, in Prague and Warsaw 20 years ago lit a thousand magic lanterns of light for those elsewhere still struggling under authoritarian and totalitarian rule.

From Estonia to South Africa, the spirit of democracy caught on to light our lanterns.  We have seen that magic light of democracy continue to be spread.  And it continues to inspire with revolutions for democracy across the globe that all take, as their touchstone, the Velvet Revolution.  Yet, we have seen that history if still with us – that the stultifying hand of authoritarianism has not been stayed.  

No longer do we see democracy qualified as “socialist,” but as “managed.”  Again, we hear that democracy and human rights are not universal, but rather a matter of where you live.  It is no accident that Vaclav Havel continues to stand up for democracy and human rights, be they trampled upon in Cuba or in Burma.  Thus, it is a special privilege to present this award to Vaclav Havel – or more accurately, his representative, Sasa Vondra – and to the people of the Czech Republic and of Slovakia.  (Applause.)

ALEXANDR VONDRA:  Ladies and gentlemen, good evening.  It’s great to see so many friends here.  Let me start by thanking, too, President Ilves.  He told me, before the dinner, that he wrote his speech in the airplane coming to Berlin and I think it demonstrates how much he understands the spirit of Central and Eastern Europe, and the Czechs in particular.

Also, this evening is special to me, personally.  I am someone who was born in August, 1961, when the Berlin Wall was built.  And on November 9th, I left the communist jail in Prague on the same day when the Wall was starting to fall down to join my friends, including Vaclav Havel, to start to work at The Magic Lantern.  

Vaclav Havel sends you his greetings, as well as regrets.  It’s not a political illness; he just needs to survive those days to be present in Prague early next week because we have our celebration.  And maybe you noticed that we still have some homework at home, and those are the priorities.  (Laughter.)  

And he asked me to read his message here today.  I just look into that message and there is nothing about the Czechs.  And that’s typical Havel, so I think he can perfectly accept this award also on behalf of Slovak people, Fred, so don’t be afraid.  (Laughter.)  

“Dear Madame Secretary, dear Minister Westerwelle, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to address you in this manner, at least, and to apologize for not being with you in person today.  

“Judging by the number of invitations, interviews and debates, there is a great interest in the 20th anniversary of the historic social changes.  This interest, in my opinion, is amplified by the fact that the atmosphere in the world, at the current time, is a far cry from euphoria we experienced in those days.  But even at that time, it was evident that the enthusiasm could not last long and we, ourselves, were at pains to transform it rapidly into functioning democracy and rule of law.  

“In spite of the fact that we, too, were confronted with the rule of all revolutions, which states that what one does not manage to achieve in the first weeks or months will never be achieved.  We did, in fact, manage to lay the foundations for civic freedoms, democracy and the rule of law.  We have a developing civil society; we have free media, free elections, a functioning judiciary; and we alone are responsible for all the things we do not like.

“We are members of all the respected international institutions, in particular NATO and the European Union.  I would be amazed if, from time to time, someone in the West did not regret the eastward expansion of those organizations.  However, I would like to assure everyone that if the European and Atlantic organizations and zone had not opened up to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the ’90s, we would probably be in a much more complicated and disadvantageous situation and exposed to graver dangers.

“Following the fall of totalitarianism and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the new democracies represented a political fragile space that needed to be filled rapidly.  And had the post-communist countries not been drawn into trans-Atlantic ties and the process of the European unification, the nationalism that were never far away in this part of Europe could now hold sway here.  That all represented an enormous contribution to us by the West.  

“And what do we have that could benefit the West?  It is, above all, our firsthand experience of a totalitarian regime, of its subtle methods of manipulation, of the fear it engenders and which pervades society.  No one on this planet can say that totalitarianism does not concern them.  No one can be sure they will not succumb to it.  No society is entirely immune to it.  At a time of globalization, at a time when everyone and everything is interlinked, scope for the spread of demagogues is actually even more of a risk than ever.

“And the more sophisticated it is, the more difficult it is to identify in time.  And so even minor concessions, albeit made with good intentions, can have grievous consequences in the future.  And Central and Eastern Europe, in particular, have valuable experience of the phenomena of totalitarianism and demagoguey (sic).  Initially, a small section of society fell pretty to Nazism and communism, but it turned out to be sufficient for society as a whole to succumb to it eventually.

“Both Nazism and communism were unprecedented in history and there was no previous experience of what their ideology could give rise to.  So one cannot rule out the possibility that if humanity was imperiled by a new totalitarianism, one that was unlike the two previous ones, it might be scarcely recognizable as one at first and even appear attractive to some, but its consequences could be unforeseeable.  

“Nevertheless, I firmly believe that thanks to the common endeavors of all of us, the values we share will never again be imperiled, but on the other hand, or contrary, will be enhanced and proliferate.  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you sincerely for the momentous award I am receiving from you, as well as for your attention.  Yours, Vaclav Havel.”  (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE:  President Aleksander Kwasniewski spoke to me once about how he learned about democracy, and particularly, the free market.  He was one of those young men – and Poles could travel more freely than others – he was one of those young men who went to America and then delivered cars from one coast to another, where, by delivering the car, they could travel at no cost.  

And he told me – President Kwasniewski – I think this was a story about Atlanta – he told me about how, in Atlanta, he couldn’t find a motel that he could afford – a place he could afford.  Finally, after searching all over Atlanta, they found the most enormously cheap place he could possibly imagine.  The room was good; the shower was good.  He couldn’t believe what he’d found.  And then he stayed up all night long listening to planes fly overhead.  He said, I learned about the free market; you get what you pay for.  (Laughter.)

Another conversation in Davos as a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, I said to President Kwasniewski, so what do you want to do?  He’d just become president, showed up at the World Economic Forum.  And he said, well, I’m going to bring Poland into the European Union and NATO.  And I said well, yeah, okay fine, I’ll write it in the Wall Street Journal, but I don’t have to believe it.  And I wrote it in the Wall Street Journal and then I had to believe it.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski – his name will go into European and world history books and it will be written large.  He brought his country into NATO and the European Union.  He played a historic mediation role during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.  Because of his role in bringing his country into NATO, I can’t imagine anyone better to turn to, to give the Freedom Award to Adm. Stavridis – James Stavridis – on behalf of NATO soldiers.  President Kwasniewski?  (Applause.)

ALEKSANDER KWASNIEWSKI:  Thank you, Fred.  That was too kind an introduction.  Presidents, prime ministers, Madame Secretary, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, I’m particularly honored to present the next Freedom Award to all the troops of NATO, past and present, who have done so much for freedom and democracy in Europe and beyond.  

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, Adm. James Stavridis, will accept this award on behalf of these brave men and women.  I am honored and deeply moved, as well, to stand here in Berlin tonight as a witness and participant of those events of the year 1989.  

Tonight, I have a chance to express my respect and gratitude to so many heroes, authors, participants and unknown participants of that great, peaceful revolution.  Many of these heroes are here among us tonight, and I think now is a good time for applause for all of them.  (Applause.)  In our memory, we have many pictures – many images – very much connected with all these events 20 years ago.

We have a picture of Polish Solidarity – “Solidarnosc” – and the leader of “Solidarnosc,” Lech Walesa.  We have a picture of roundtable talks, which opened up the way to the bloodless transformation of communist regime into democracy and market economy.  I have an image of a free, democratic election poll in June, 1989, and the first non-communist government of Tadeusz Mazowiecki.  We see, again, the image of Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and Vaclav Havel and the great change all over Central and Eastern Europe.

And very strong in our memory is what crossed walls and borders – (in German) – cried out by thousands of people in Leipzig.  And the Wall that was to divide the city and the people for decades turned out to be proof of helpless and immoral power of dictatorship, collapsing communist ideology and Soviet domination.  It was thanks to courage and determination of millions of ordinary men and women that freedom was restored after decades of oppression, limited sovereignty and humiliation.

And after that, nothing was the way it had been before.  The end of the Cold War and the division of the world led to enlargement and strengthening of the space of freedom, democracy and security.  For the nations of our region, the North Atlantic alliance was a long-awaited guarantor of regained freedom.  I will not forget the negotiations, which were not easy, just as I will not forget deep understanding and strong will of our NATO partners – United States, President Clinton, and our European partners

And I will not forget the emotions that I felt when, in 1999, together with President Havel, I signed the document confirming our Polish membership in the alliance.  And it was in exactly the same room where, 44 years before, the Warsaw Pact had been signed.  It’s not necessary among us to say that the name of Warsaw Pact not because it was Polish wish, but because this treaty was signed in Warsaw.  (Laughter.)

And I will not forget the invitation that was extended to the Baltic states at the NATO summit in Prague.  With that act, the Baltic states ultimately confirmed their so-hard-to-win independence.  It was the moment that we all felt, at last, that the Second World War and its Cold War consequences were finally over.  

Today’s celebration also reminds us that 20 years after the historical events of 1989, our job is not yet done.  We must remain committed to completing the great goal of a Europe whole and free by ensuring that our neighbors in the Balkans, Europe’s East and the Caucasus can enjoy a future in which their security, prosperity and democracy is never threatened.  Our work did not stop.  

Allied troops served in Bosnia as peacekeepers helping that country walk the long road of reconstruction and reconciliation.  NATO helped end atrocities in Kosovo and maintains peacekeepers there today.  As NATO expanded, allied soldiers worked to integrate the new members of Central and Eastern Europe.  After the shock of the 9/11 attacks, European and NATO airmen came to America’s aid with early warning flights over North America.  

Today, NATO sailors patrol the Mediterranean and Horn of Africa to fight piracy and guarantee free passage along international waterways.  In Afghanistan, European allied soldiers went to war with their American counterparts to hunt down al-Qaida and assist the Afghans in rebuilding their country.  Allied soldiers have lost blood and brothers in arms, yet the men and women of ISAF have never lost their fighting spirit.  This is a testament to the steadfastness of the alliance.  

Asked tonight to accept this award on behalf of the fighting men and women of the alliance, past and present, is the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, Adm. James Stavridis.  Adm. Stavridis has been called a renaissance admiral.  A graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, he also holds a Ph.D. in international relations, Tufts University.  He brings skill and a keen intellect to his job as NATO’s military chief.

Before taking up his current post, he served as the commander of United States Southern Command, where he devised innovative and successful approaches to tackle smuggling and other non-traditional security challenges.  He served as career strike group commander, conducting operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.  Adm. Stavridis – where is the admiral?  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Adm. Stavridis, thank you for your dedicated service and for accepting the award on behalf of allied troops.  Congratulations for men and women in uniforms and all NATO allies.  (Applause.)  

ADM. JAMES STAVRIDIS:  Well, good evening everybody and Mr. President, thank you for that extremely kind introduction.  And to the Atlantic institute (sic), thank you so much – Fred Kempe.  Minister Westerwelle, Secretary Clinton, distinguished guests, it’s wonderful to take a moment here.  I would like to also recognize our French chief of defense, who is here tonight, Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, representing the return of France to the alliance.  Welcome home, sir.  (Applause.)

I am – indeed, the word is correct – I am humbled to receive this award on behalf of the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the marines of all of the NATO nations who have served and have been a part of the process of the events we have talked about, which unfolded 20 years ago.  On their shoulders rest the pillars of this trans-Atlantic bridge, this alliance.  This is their award.  And I am proud to stand here tonight.

I will quote a German statesman and general, Carl Schurz, who once remarked that “if you truly want to be free, there is but one way, and it is to ensure the equal, full measure of the liberty of your neighbors.”  And that, in a phrase, is the mission of the North Atlantic alliance.  For 60 years, through the long decades of the Cold War, your soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and civilians stood the watch.  They manned the lines.  They flew the patrols.  They sailed the seas.  And they made us free.

They were part of the great events that unfolded in this city 20 years ago.  Today, this is a celebration of all the elements of national will, of diplomacy, of development, of defense.  Together, together, all of us worked to achieve the moment that we celebrate tonight.  In those intervening years, this alliance has grown steadily.  Today, we stand at 28 who stand together.  As the president remarked in that wonderful introduction, your soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines today are in Afghanistan.  They’re in the Balkans; they’re at sea in counterpiracy operations off the Horn of Africa; they’re policing the skies on the borders of this alliance.  They are part of the rock-hard guarantee of Article V that underpins this alliance, that is the fundamental basis for this alliance.

And I will say to you that as I came tonight, I called my good friend, my mentor, Gen. Jim Jones, and I said, sir, what should I say tonight?  And he said, “Tell them that NATO is the strongest alliance in the history of the world.”  That is my message for you tonight.  This alliance is proud to have been part of the events that led to the fall of the Wall.  We talked earlier tonight, in a wonderful intervention, about President Havel’s Magic Lantern.  I would say to you that your military forces in this NATO alliance are part of that Magic Lantern.  They shine a light for freedom.  Thank you very much for this award.  (Applause.)

ALAN SPENCE:  Secretary of State, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Alan Spence of the Newsdesk Media group and I’m proud to be able to say that we are the media partner to the Atlantic Council on the Freedom’s Challenge initiative.  When I was a boy, I lived a short distance from some magnificent hills, some wonderful moors in the North of England.

They were scarred only by three gigantic golf balls, many, many meters across, which looked rather like great spaceships which had just landed.  I remember, as if it was yesterday, asking my father what they were for.  And he replied, well, son, they’re a form of radar to pick up incoming nuclear missiles.  And if they come, they’ll give us four minutes notice before they hit our cities.  My innocence about the world died that day.  It’s a day that I’ve never forgotten.  It certainly helped me understand the Cuban Missile Crisis.  

It certainly helped me understand when American and Russian tanks faced each other at Checkpoint Charlie.  For that conversation with a loving parent made me aware, for the first time, of the potential threatening realities that lived beyond the safety and security of a young boy’s world.  Suddenly, for me, things that could happen a long way away could affect me, my life, my family, my friends, my church.  And of course, in Europe, it was all of these things which were never more threatened than here in Berlin, the epicenter of the 40-year winter of the Cold War.

The Cuban missiles never flew; the tanks never exchanged fire at Checkpoint Charlie; and those great, white golf balls that I remember when I was a kid, they never triggered any four-minute warning.  Why?  Why?  Because the people of Berlin stood firm; because the people of Germany stood firm; and because the NATO alliance stood firm.  And for millions of people throughout Eastern Europe and beyond living in an unfree world, a world of state tyranny was just simply unacceptable and abhorrent.

In order to retain freedom, protect freedom, advance freedom, you must communicate the benefits and privileges of a free world each and every day.  And in reinforcing that message, we must remember, always, great peoples, organizations and individuals, past and present, who often at great risk to their lives have acted to ensure that the lights of freedom do not die; indeed, they burn ever brighter.

My company and I are proud to partner with the Atlantic Council and Fred Kempe and the Freedom’s Challenge initiative and to salute and recognize courage and bravery.  Tonight is a tribute to our wonderful honorees and who and what they represent.  But this evening also marks the commencement of a campaign by the Atlantic Council to annual recognize, encourage and acknowledge freedom’s heroes.  And as an Englishman – the only one who’s spoken from here tonight – a European and an Atlanticist, I’m proud to support this campaign and the magnificent work of this organization under Fred Kempe’s leadership.  And now it gives me great pleasure to hand over to the honorable Philip Murphy, U.S. ambassador to Germany.  (Applause.)

AMB. PHILIP MURPHY:  (Translated from German.)  Thank you very much, Alan.  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great honor for and it is a privilege to be able to introduce Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to you.  The new government, which is represented by Foreign Minister Westerwelle, stands for the commitment that both our countries feel for freedom and for democracy.  It is a commitment which we have been sharing for our 60 years.  

Since the end of the Second World War, all American presidents have found and supported a strong trans-Atlantic partnership.  The experience of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany symbolized one of the great success stories of modern and modern diplomacy.  Foreign Minister Westerwelle, in his career, has shown exemplary political commitment.  This reaches back into his own student days.  He, like many of the ministers of the current government, can indeed be seen as role models for Germany’s younger generation.

I was extremely pleased to hear that Foreign Minister Westerwelle intends to make cultural affairs and education one of his priorities.  And indeed, that is perhaps one of the best that Germany has to offer to the world.  Educational and cultural relations are also some of the priorities of the American State Department and the great leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton everywhere on the world.

And I think in this context, we should also mention that Foreign Minister Westerwelle, in 1987, took part in the International Visitors Program of the American State Department.  On behalf of the embassy in Berlin and the five consulates in Germany, exchange programs and educational efforts are still of great importance.  And we have a number of town hall meetings with schools, with students all over Germany.  And that was one way in which we start to begin a discussion, namely by talking about role models and heroes to look up to.

Foreign Minister Westerwelle, I know that one of your personal role models is Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the former German foreign minister.  And Dr. Hans-Dietrich Genscher lately was a speaker at a memorial event in Prague, where he talked about the events which had happened there in September 1989 in the West German embassy in Prague.  And he appealed to Europeans never to forget that the happiest hour in Europe was also the end of a year of a great struggle for freedom.  And this year – 1989 – should not simply be a year we remember, but this year obliges us to continue working.  And this, I think, is an important message for all of us.

As President Obama says, America cannot meet this century’s challenges alone.  The world cannot meet them without America.  Shared responsibilities are now the foundation of a strong German-American partnership.  With Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the helm, we look forward now, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, to many more years in which the United States and Germany work together to expand the boundaries of freedom.  

And tomorrow is so much about Berlin, but it is also so much about a united Federal Republic of Germany, 82 million citizens across 16 Länder and countless wichtige cities, many in the neue Länder, Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Rostock und so weiter.  And the next award goes to those 82 million German citizens.

And accepting it on their behalf is the German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Secretary Guido Westerwelle.  (Applause.)

GUIDO WESTERWELLE:  First of all, I would like to say that it is very friendly to give me the opportunity in my new office representing our country to receive this award, and I would like to start in with some personal words before I will come back to my official speech here.

The first thing is, Botschafter Murphy, Ambassador Murphy was so friendly to tell the public and to tell the audience here that I was invited by USIA in the ’80s.  I think it was ’87, I was invited to travel through the states because the former ambassador of the United States in Germany, he thought that this young man who was studying and learning could someday be in some position.  The real reason is, when I met him first, I was – I am so sorry, but 20 years later, I think it’s okay – I criticized him for some political issues and I was together with some members of our board of the Free Democratic Party, I was the head of the Young Liberals, the youth organization, and if we talk in Germany or use the word “liberal,” we mean liberal in the sense of a center party.  There’s no need to arrest me – (laughter) – to make this clear.

And I was invited there and traveled through the states for, I think, more than three weeks, and I will never forget when I came back, I was once again guest in your wonderful embassy in Bonn, our former capitol city, and I stood there in a long line, and this wonderful ambassador saw me again, said hello, Guido, how was it, are you brainwashed?  (Laughter.)  And I said, yes.  And this is exactly like it was.

The second thing I want to say is a bit more depressing.  I was for my very first time in Berlin.  The Germans probably know, but the other international guests can’t know, I’m originally out of the Rhine Valley, together with Vice Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer, we grew up in the Rhine Valley in – and the former capitol city, Bonn, is also my hometown.  And I was invited by my father, when I was 13 years old – 13 years old, and he sponsored me a ticket to Berlin.  This was a great experience for me, with – in the age of 13, and we had a short trip together, my father and me, here to Berlin by plane.  I think it was the second time in my life I used an airplane.

And I will never forget, of course I came to Kurfürstendamm and saw all these important buildings, and I’ll never forget that my father brought me to the Wall, and there – and I’m talking now about a place, if you go out of this elegant hotel, turn to the left, walk through the Brandenburg Gate, make a right, exactly there it was, the Wall and the Death Bell.  And ladies and gentlemen, on the other side, from our western perspective, as the young man or young boy was 13 years old, there were some wooden platforms, and on this wooden platform we walked up, and my father brought me to this wooden platform and we could watch over the Wall, so we could not only see the Wall, we could also see the buildings, the Death Bell, behind the Wall, and I will never forget this very personal moment, because it was the very first time I understood with 13 years what has happened in our history.  

And I – it is a remarkable situation that someone of my generation stands now here, that someone of my generation has now the honor to receive this award, of course not for me, but for our country and for our people.  And I think it is a very good moment for me, out of any official speeches, very personally, dear Hillary, to say thank you, we are very, very grateful what you, your country and your people did for our freedom and our security in Germany.  Thank you very, very much.  (Applause.)  

(Translated from German.)  Presidents, esteemed Hillary Clinton, governing mayor, Ambassador Murphy, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this is why, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express myself in line with my own expectations of spoken language, and thus I would beg your understanding for the fact that I return to my own native tongue.  I would like to express my deep-felt gratitude on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, on behalf of who I have the honor to address you today, and I would like to limit myself to about a few personal remarks in my own native tongue.  

Ladies and gentlemen, we are speaking in both languages, and when we – of the fall of the Wall, we speak of the fact that the Wall fell.  Is that an apt description of what happened?  I don’t think it is so.  The Wall did not fall.  The Wall was brought down.  It was brought down by people, and it was the people in the East that saw to it that the Wall came down.  It was toppled.  The stones were cut out of the Wall.  People hacked at the Wall.  It was a peaceful revolution, and this is why it’s not apt to say, the Wall fell, but the Wall was brought down by the yearning for freedom that millions of citizens, of people, felt who were forced to live without enjoying their personal freedom.  

And when you think back to what I just described, the place I just pointed out to you, let’s say 150 meters from here, when you look to that place, go there, you see why wooden crosses have been set up, and you will find many young people standing in front of these crosses asking themselves why these crosses have been set up, and they’re receiving explanations by their tour guides and by people who can inform them about what went on.

We should never forget how many people had to pay with their lives, sacrifice their lives in their expression to be free and live in freedom.  It’s a cruel destiny, and this is why I would like to express my gratitude first and foremost to those brave and courageous men and women who took to the streets in those days and weeks 20 years ago, who took to the streets, demonstrated and did not know whether they would be shot at or not.  These were brave, courageous people.  The greatest gift that reunited Germany, the citizens of so-called East Germany, made this gift to us.  They are the genuine heroes of this peaceful revolution.  Let us not forget that this is so.

We should also not forget the achievement of brilliant statecraft – here again I bow my head in recognition.  The names have already been given, international contributions, national contributions.  Let me mentioned Helmut Kohl, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Willy Brandt and many others.  I would like to thank you for the honor of receiving such an esteemed award shortly after coming to office, and I’d like to show the international guests of this event that we will continue to be your partners, we will continue to be your friends, we are your friends.  Germany knows full well that it is only together that we can act as members of the international community.  This is our guideline.  Thank you for your attention.  Thank you very much indeed.  (Applause.)

HENRY KISSINGER:  Madame Secretary, Mr. Minister, distinguished guests, Fred Kempe announced to a group the other day what a terrific thing it was for me to do a bipartisan thing to introduce the secretary of state.  (Laughter.)  Of course, he had great courage, he didn’t know what I was going to say.  (Laughter.)  But I want to make one fundamental point.  The secretary, I, Brent Scowcroft, Zbig Brzezinski, we belong to a union.  It is the federation of secretaries of state and his national security advisors.  We are not partisan.  We look at American foreign policy as a nonpartisan enterprise.  We have learned that the challenges are endless, that problems don’t get finally solved but that every solution of one problem is an admission ticket to another problem.

So we have an obligation, each, when in office, to be aware of the continuity but also aware of the responsibility for the future, and also when out of office have an obligation to have understanding, compassion, and for the maximum support that they can give to the incumbent, especially one we appreciate so much.  So that is the basic attitude and why I am honored to have this privilege.

The events we are celebrating here have been part of my life.  I saw Berlin in 1946, when there were no trees in the Tiergarten, when it looked as if the rubble would take generation to clean up, and when the idea of a resurrected Germany at the center of Europe took above all enormous faith.  And the people of Berlin and the people of Germany and the people of America for whom this award is – to whom it’s dedicated – had the courage and the faith to go on this long journey.

In retrospect, historical achievements tend to be – look inevitable.  But those who traversed that journey know how many difficult decisions had to be made.  We remember the airlift and the Berlin ultimatums and the negotiations and the building of the Wall.  And at each stage, there had to be at least two components – one that the confidence and faith of the German people did not break and secondly that the commitment of America in these tasks would be sustained.  And in each case, that happened to be the case.  

And even after the Wall fell, it was not self-evident that Germany would be reunified.  There were many ideas, even in Germany, that the outcome should be a German confederation of two independent or democratic states.  So that was – what we see today was not self-evident, and after unification was achieved, it was not self-evident that Germany could join NATO, that the new countries of Eastern Europe could both join NATO and join the European Union.  And we need to remember that, because some of the crises of recent years are the result of successes and great achievements achieved through working together, and even when we had disagreements, resolving them in a manner that was not just tactical but reflected the convictions of both sides.

Now, with freedom having moved far west of where all of this started, a whole new set of challenges is arising with revolutionary movements on a religious basis.  The emergence of regions of the world which had been in a subsidiary position, the coming to the fore of problems that can only be solved on a global basis but that were not even recognized as problems when the events occurred that I am now describing – that is the challenge the secretary of state has before her.

The American people have supported the effort that I have described and deserves a great deal of credit for its steadfastness.  The thing that worries me most is to be sure that we maintain unity as we go through the next phase, and my confidence in that is best expressed in the following way:  I was asked by a journalist to write a thousand words about my assessment of Hillary Clinton.  I said, what do I do after the first three words?  He said, what are those three words?  I said, “I like Hillary.”  (Laughter, applause.)

So in that spirit, Madame Secretary, let me ask you to come to this platform and accept the Freedom Award to the American people for what we have witnessed here.  Madame Secretary.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON:  Well, I like Henry too – (laughter) – and I am especially honored to have been introduced by him today and to be with all of you for this extraordinary occasion.  There are so many in this room and then so many others who have been mentioned who deserve all of the appreciation and admiration we can bestow upon them, but I have the great and high honor today to accept this Freedom Award on behalf of the American people, some of whose names are already in the history books but many of whom will never be known to history.  

But because of their steadfastness, because of their conviction about freedom and the hope that it would be once again alive and well throughout all of Europe and particularly in Germany, they supported the policies of successive presidents of both parties; they voted for people who believed strongly in the importance of the trans-Atlantic Alliance; they paid taxes year after year after year to support our defense of Europe, the NATO alliance, and to give a tangible and very clear message that the people of the United States wanted to see a strong and vibrant Germany and Europe.

And there is no better place for this award or this moment than right here in Berlin, a city where some of the greatest victories in the 20th century occurred, and a city that, today, embodies the strength of our democracies and what we have achieved together.  So I gratefully accept this on behalf of all of those Americans.  And I thank the Atlantic Council, and Fred, thank you for your coverage of this part of the world over many years and your leadership of this council, and Alan Spence, as well, for co-hosting this evening, the presidents of both Estonia and Latvia, who sit here today representing two nations that were considered captives.

And on a personal note, when I was in high school, I was part of an organization that, in our own way, as high school students, tried to speak out for freedom of those who were in the Baltics and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. We would often host events at the school or at our public library of those who had escaped, to hear their stories, to remind ourselves, to remind all Americans what was at stake, and to put a personal face on what seemed to be a faceless and terrible oppression.

So thank you, and thank you for taking this time on the eve of the occasion tomorrow to look back, to remember, to convey the emotion and commitment that so many of you who have already spoken have demonstrated clearly in order to pass it on to that next generation and the one after that.

I am delighted to be joined by members of the United States presidential delegation who have come to represent the United States on this historic occasion.  We have already heard from most of them: our ambassador, Phil Murphy; our former national security advisors, Dr. Brzezinski and Gen. Scowcroft; and Craig Kennedy, president of the German Marshall Fund.

And of course, as Henry Kissinger said, we are in a federation and we do understand the challenges and difficulties that each of us has faced and not only are facing today, but whoever holds these positions of national security advisor or secretary of state will face new challenges. But that is part of the responsibility that we, together, have assumed.

And I want to personally express my appreciation to the vice chancellor and the foreign minister.  We had our first meeting just a few days ago in Washington, where I was very pleased to host Guido, and tomorrow he will host me for a working lunch.  The emotion that his remarks conveyed, the story of going to Berlin with his father, will stay with me.  And I look forward to working with you on so many of the important challenges we face today.

This award comes in a year of anniversaries – the one we celebrate tomorrow, the night 20 years ago when history broke through concrete and barbed wire and brought liberty to millions across this continent – but that’s not the only milestone that should be remembered.   Sixty-five summers ago, allied troops landed in Europe with the goal of liberating Berlin.  And in 1949, 60 years ago, we formed the NATO Alliance and completed the largest humanitarian airlift in history, well over a quarter-million flights, to sustain West Berlin during the Soviet blockade. And Admiral, thank you for accepting the award on behalf of not only those who serve today, but most importantly, those who have served in years past in a continuous chain of commitment.

The Americans and their allies who fought to liberate this city in the Second World War, the farmers and airmen who helped to feed Berlin’s people and fuel its homes and the soldiers who stood guard for generations to preserve the peace, all did so with the hope that someday Berlin might stand at the center of a free, peaceful, prosperous, reunified Germany in a free, peaceful, prosperous, unified Europe.

But there wasn’t anything inevitable about it.  And there is nothing that we can take for granted about that history.  The circumstances that surround us today are a culmination of an effort by Europeans and Americans that spanned generations.  And, yes, the end to the Berlin Wall was an iconic moment.  It was an hour when the hopes and prayers and sacrifice of millions came together in an unwavering exclamation of freedom.  But it did not begin with the mistake of a flustered Communist spokesman in East Berlin or even the peaceful masses that took to the street that evening.  It had been building over years.

Edward Gibbon, the great historian of the fall of Rome once observed that a “mighty state… reared by the labors of successive ages could not be overturned by the misfortune of a single day.”  But I would add the accumulation of days, of days where people no longer could tolerate the oppression and the denial that they had to live with, who could no longer stomach what they saw in those who pretended to lead them, built and built.  So with the destruction of the Berlin Wall, we witnessed the climax of a broader saga that had been playing out in Budapest and Bucharest and Bratislava and a thousand other communities across Europe.

In Poland, that son of a carpenter who has already been honored was elected prime minister of a free nation.  For the Polish people, it was the end of a campaign for liberty that was marked by scores of protests and years of privation.  And for an electrician from Gdansk, it was the end of a journey that began when he climbed over a wall of the Lenin Shipyards to lead a strike that became Solidarity.  In the Baltic countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, a human chain comprised of one-fourth the population joined hands across their lands and helped break the chains that held their nations captive. Tens of thousands gathered at Heroes’ Square in Budapest to witness the reburial of Imre Nagy, a hero of the 1956 revolution.

And later that summer, Hungary’s Communist leaders opened the border to refugees seeking freedom and, in the morning darkness of September 11th, allowed a vast army of East German automobiles to surge across the Hungarian frontier into Austria.  The small cars filled with vacationers didn’t have much in common with the armored battalions of the Warsaw Pact that had menaced generations of Western military planners, but their impact on history was as dramatic as any invasion.  There was little use in a wall that you could walk around.

So when capitals across the region, refugees from the East, found sanctuary in the embassies of West Germany and when a dying government tried to end the exodus of its people by allowing a handful of them free passage to the West in a sealed train, the sight spawned an outcry for change.  East Germans took to the streets of Leipzig in peaceful protests that affirmed, “Wir sind das Volk,”or, “We are the People”, which became, “We are One People” after the events of November 9th.

Then, only eight days after the destruction of the Wall, we watched students in Prague march and begin what became the Velvet Revolution that would bring Havel, a playwright, to the presidency.  For a nation that had grasped for liberty in the spring of 1968, the transition to democracy couldn’t come quickly enough.  There were many authors of the changes we witnessed in 1989.  Some acted knowingly, like the Polish pope who resurrected a gospel of liberty.  Others, like President Gorbachev, sought a break from a darker past, but in doing so, helped to break down the Wall.

But again I say, these events were not inevitable.  In January of 1989, East Germany’s Communist leaders predicted that the Wall would still be standing in 50 or even 100 years.  History could have gone another way, and in some parts of the world, it did and it has.  So where do we stand now? As we commemorate that moment when history pierced concrete and concertina wire, we remember the troops who faced down war and kept the peace, the dissidents and activists who risked all they had to demand a free and better life, the millions of mothers and fathers, workers and students who never lost faith that a system built on tyranny and oppression could and would be overcome.

So we remember every citizen of every nation who helped preserve the world with the gift that we accept today.  But that gift came with strings, as gifts often do.  It came with the responsibility to advance the principles that were vindicated in this city 20 years ago.  When the Wall came down, we could not know what the people of Europe would build in its place, and the Atlantic community confronted a cavalcade of crises and a crisis of confidence.

I well remember, following from afar, the debates over reunification: the costs, how it could be possibly accomplished.  How would one ever integrate the industries, the militaries, the mindsets of peoples who had been divided by that wall?  And the Euro-Atlantic coalition struggled to find policies worthy of the sacrifices made by the people of Central and Eastern Europe and to help them build democracies on the rubble of a ruined system.

Now, ultimately and together, we achieved successes that would have been unthinkable on this night 20 years ago, and as we welcomed the historic nations of Central Europe into NATO and saw them become members of the European Union, the landscape of this continent was transformed.  But our history did not end the night the Wall came down.  It began anew, and this matters not only to tens of millions of Europeans and to the United States, but to people everywhere.  How do we take this gift of freedom, this alliance of values, this commitment for a better future, and put it to work to meet the challenges of freedom today?

The new nations of a united Europe are our partners, standing with us in Afghanistan, patrolling waters against pirates, working to combat poverty, helping to prevent terrorism, promoting our common values.  Today, our battles may be different and our nations remain imperfect vessels of democracy, but our objectives have not changed and our work has certainly not ended.

So we should look to the examples of the generations who brought us successfully through the 20th century, and once again, together, chart a clear and common course to safeguard our people and our planet, defeat violent extremists and prevent nuclear proliferation, come together to cut carbon emissions and address climate change, increase our energy security – an issue of special importance in this region that carries ramifications for the future of Europe and the world.

To expand freedom to more people, we cannot accept that freedom does not belong to all people.  We cannot allow oppression, defined and justified by religion or tribe to replace that of ideology.  We have a responsibility to address conditions everywhere that undermine the potential of boys and girls and men and women, that sap human dignity and threaten global progress.  European countries have been leaders in addressing the economic and social development challenges of the world.  We need to continue our work on an economic recovery, and we need to continue to promote democracy and human rights beyond freedom’s current frontiers so that citizens everywhere are afforded the opportunity to pursue their dreams and live up to their own God-given potential.

When Chancellor Merkel came to Washington last week, she spoke eloquently about the walls of the last century and the less visible but equally daunting walls we face today.  These are walls between the present and the future, walls between modernity and nihilistic attitudes, walls that divide our common heart, that deny progress and opportunity to the many who yearn for both.

As one who came of age amid the barriers of oppression, Chancellor knows of what she speaks.  But tomorrow, when she walks through the Brandenburg Gate, she will do so as a free daughter of Brandenburg and the leader of an emancipated people.  That moment should be a call to action, not just a commemoration of past actions.  That call should spur us to continue our cooperation and to look for new ways that we can meet the challenges that freedom faces now.

We owe it to ourselves and to those who yearn for the same freedoms that are enjoyed and even taken for granted in Berlin today.  And we need to form an even stronger partnership to bring down the walls of the 21st century and to confront those who hide behind them:  the suicide bombers, those who murder and maim girls whose only wish is to go to school, leaders who choose their own fortunes over the fortunes of their people.

In place of these new walls, we must renew the Transatlantic Alliance as a cornerstone of a global architecture of cooperation.  When we come together to uphold the common good, there is no constellation of countries on earth that has greater strength.  There is no wall we cannot topple. There is no truth we can be afraid of.

Now, as in the past, we know that the work ahead will not be quick, and it will certainly not be easy.  But once again, we are called to take ownership of our future and to affirm the principles and the sacrifice of the generations who helped us reach the milestone we commemorate.  The ideals that drove Berliners to tear down that wall are no less relevant today, the freedoms championed that night are no less precious, and the rights and principles that brought us to this hour are no less deserving of our defense.

Now, some of us may not be here to celebrate the 50th anniversary, although, if I were placing bets, I would bet on Henry – (laughter).  But we must be confident that the men and women who gather on that occasion will look back on us as we look back now on them, on the generations that brought us through the Cold War and eventually saw the blossoming of all that sacrifice during 1989.  So let us resolve that when our actions are examined against that backdrop of history, our children and their children will be able to say that we served them well. Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

MR. KEMPE:  As they are standing here and having their pictures taken, let me just say, Madame Secretary, thank you for that powerful and significant speech on this historic occasion. You talked about bringing down the walls of the 21st century and confronting those who stand behind them. You have carried the lessons of the past into the responsibilities of the future.

You now have standing beside you tonight’s awardees, but you also have what Dr. Kissinger, the longest-serving member of the Atlantic Council Board, called “The Club,” the club of national security advisors and foreign ministers who are looking out for the best of their countries and the best of the alliance and the best of the world. We salute you all, and we – I declare the inaugural Atlantic Council of Freedom Awards concluded.  (Applause.)


Transcript by Federal News Service, Washington, D.C.