Hello, everyone. My name is John Emerson and I am the U.S. Ambassador to Germany.
2015, marking the 25th anniversary of Germany’s reunification, was a momentous year. And yes, it was also extremely difficult and challenging at times. We won’t ever forget the terrorist attacks in Paris in January and then again in November, or the attacks in Beirut, Mali, Tunisia, Kenya, my home state California, and elsewhere. The war in Syria and other crises around the world have resulted in a huge influx of refugees, with historic numbers arriving on Germany’s doorstep. We faced diverse threats, both in the physical world and in cyberspace.
Yet the world also witnessed important progress on a number of fronts during 2015. We welcomed the referendum in Ireland and the Supreme Court decision in the U.S. that legalized marriage between LGBT couples in those two countries. The reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba brought a final end to the Cold War in Latin America. Thanks to Chancellor Merkel we have a path forward to bring peace and stability to Ukraine, through the Minsk process. The Chancellor also hosted a successful G-7 Summit at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria, laying the groundwork for cooperation and coordination in a number of key areas, not the least of which was addressing global warming. In July, Germany, the U.S., and the other members of the P5+1 signed a historic deal with Iran on that country’s nuclear program. The international community successfully beat back the Ebola virus in West Africa. Germany showed exemplary leadership in meeting the refugee crisis in a humane and thoughtful manner. And the world came together in France, just a few short weeks after the Paris attacks, to approve a global plan to tackle the dangers of our changing climate.
Of course, even noting all these achievements, we recognize that much work remains to be done. In none of these cases can we pat ourselves on the back and say the job is finished. Agreements that have been signed must be implemented. We must continue to help refugees and integrate them into our societies, even as we try to work out diplomatic solutions to the conflicts in Syria and elsewhere. We must remain unwavering in the fight against Daesh, or ISIL, and other terrorist organizations. And we must address the absence of economic opportunity that can lead to despair and radicalization, especially in young people in many parts of the world.
In 2016, we will have to work hard and think creatively to build a world that offers peace and prosperity, health and happiness, hope and dignity to all people everywhere, no matter what their religion or ethnic background or country of origin, no matter what their gender or sexual orientation or political beliefs.
And on a personal note, my family and I can hardly believe that 2016 will be our last full year in Germany. But we look forward to working with our friends and colleagues throughout Germany, to address the challenges we face, and to take advantage of the important opportunities that lie before us.
So, with that, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Ich wünsche Ihnen einen guten Rutsch!