News BlogEuropean policy

The coronavirus pandemic is not a war, it is a test of our humanity (Steinmeier)

(B2) German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered an Easter speech full of responsibility and empathy on Saturday (April 11) from Bellevue Palace, the presidential residence. I selected three extracts. To read

President FW Steinmeier (source: Bundespräsident / Selection B2)

The vulnerable society

“The pandemic shows us. Yes, we are vulnerable. Perhaps we have thought for too long that we are invulnerable, that we cannot go faster, higher, further. But it was a mistake. The crisis does not only show us [that]. It also shows us how strong we are! What we can build on! »

This is not a war, but a test of humanity

“No, this pandemic is not a war. Nations are not against nations, soldiers are not against soldiers. It is a test of our humanity. It evokes the worst and the best of people. Let's show ourselves the best of ourselves! And let’s show it in Europe too! »

Solidarity is not a possibility, it is an obligation

“Germany can only emerge from the crisis strong and healthy if its neighbors also become strong and healthy. […] Thirty years after German unity, 75 years after the end of the war, we Germans are not only called to solidarity in Europe. We have to! »

Comment: the right tone

What more can be said. Not much. The former head of German diplomacy, close to Gerhard Schröder, struck the right tone. Neither tearful nor warlike, he recognizes the seriousness of the situation, of the errors, and calls on everyone to be more dynamic, more enterprising. By making solidarity a historic obligation in the same way as that of 1945 or 1989, it closes the door to any temptation to withdraw into oneself. It's a big speech, a speech we would like certain European and French leaders to make.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Who is Steinmeier?

Originally from North Rhine-Westphalia, a social democrat through and through, Frank-Walter Steinmeier embodies the centrist tendency of the German SPD. Chief of staff from 1993 to Gerhard Schröder, then minister-president of the Land of Lower Saxony, he accompanied him on his march towards power. In 1998 he became the government delegate (= political head) of the intelligence services then its director of the chancellery, for six years (from 1999 to 2005). It is one of the architects of the reform of the health systems put in place at the beginning of 2000 (a rather effective system).

He then served as Angela Merkel's foreign minister twice from 2005 to 2009 and from late 2013 to early 2017. In 2009, he was cited, for a moment, as a possible high representative of the Union (read: The Socialist and Democratic Group wants a High Representative, Socialist). He then did not hesitate to address American President B. Obama to demand an overhaul of NATO (read: Steinmeier to Obama (usa): “a new direction” for NATO). In March 2017, he was elected president of the FRG, a mainly symbolic function, but which in Germany has high moral authority because it is above the parties.

Download the discourse (in German) * unofficial translation


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

Privacy Preferences Center