Thank you Ursula [von der Leyen, Federal Minister of Defence of Germany],
Thank you Minister-President [of the State of Saxony-Anhalt, Dr. Reiner Haseloff], Lord Mayor [of Magdeburg, Dr. Lutz Trümper],
It is definitely the first time I happen to speak in a church. Thank you for the honour of this prize that has always celebrated one of the most important thing we have - as human beings, as citizens – the European unity.
In this city, it is clear that we share a common European history and identity. Magdeburg has been for centuries the centre of a European network of cities, spreading from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.
But we all know – and Ursula [von der Leyen] told us perfectly well – that our European history is a history of war and divisions. For centuries, we have commemorated the beginning or the end of wars. Today, we celebrate anniversaries of treaties among us.
Because the core business of our European Union is still to make any European war impossible and unthinkable. To be free from that fear all over our continent. And while my daughters cannot imagine a war within the European Union, I know that people of their age living in the Balkans are not completely free from that fear. It is our mission as a peace project to make that work accomplished.
But in our difficult, complex and small world, peace and security in Europe are connected to peace and security in our region and in the rest of the world.
So, the European Union has to be a global force for peace, because this is first and foremost our own interest. We will not be safe, we will not be secure, we will not be strong, our economy would not be prosperous, if the rest of our region and the rest of the world will not find a certain stability, security, prosperity and peace.
And preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is our own interest, as well as the world’s interest.
Two years ago, we have managed to find a win-win solution to one of the most complex and dangerous issues of our times.
We created an effective monitoring system, to make sure that Iran’s nuclear programme could only have peaceful purposes. In over two years, there have been no violations of any of the commitments taken by Iran, and the IAEA - the International Atomic Energy Agency - has verified eight times, with hundreds of inspections, that Iran is implementing, fully, the deal.
The agreement was endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council, and so it belongs to the whole world, to the whole international community. No country can terminate it alone simply because no single country can terminate alone a UN Security Council Resolution.
With that agreement, we have achieved one major thing: we have avoided a nuclear arms race in the Middle East; imagine the Middle East today with the wars and the tensions that are crossing the entire region with, on top of that, the risk of a nuclear arms race in that region; close to us. So, it is our security, vital interest to preserve the deal.
I cannot forget – I think no one of us can forget – another thing we achieved on that day: the win-win. We celebrated an agreement that was making us safer. I will always remember the images of the Iranian people – young people but also elderly people – celebrating the deal in the streets of their cities.
We won and the Iranian people won – this is the kind of result that is only possible through diplomacy and mediation. When you chose the win-win over the confrontation. And this was possible because of us, of the European Union’s role as a mediator, of the European Union approach, knowing what wars mean and what peace needs.
As we were indispensable to reach the deal with Iran, we are and we will still be indispensable to preserve the deal in the difficult weeks and months ahead - in unity as we reaffirmed yesterday with the Foreign Ministers of the 28.
Because our unity and our strength is and will continue to be a point of reference for all those who understand that this is clearly not the time to dismantle a nuclear non-proliferation agreement. An agreement that is working and delivering. We will preserve the deal, and make sure it is implemented in full by all.
This is what the European Union has become: an indispensable partner for global peace and security.
We have become indispensable to preserve, strengthen and reform the UN system, because we Europeans know how crucial the United Nations and the UN agencies are.