Germany's president wraps up US charm offensive in Boston
BOSTON (AP) — Germany's president on Thursday called for shifting focus away from "tweets and tirades" and toward upholding democracy and strengthening the relationship between his country and the United States.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave a brief speech at the Goethe Institute in Boston before attending a joint concert of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Germany's visiting Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. "I have come here as the federal president to raise our sights away from the day-to-day emphasis on tweets and tirades and beyond the indignation that is often both predictable and ineffective," Steinmeier said in a veiled comment referencing President Donald Trump.
"These days, we are experiencing various risks and threats to our democracy," he later added. The visit to the newly refurbished institute came as Germany wraps up a yearlong charm offensive designed to ease tensions with the U.S. The two nations have boosted cultural ties throughout 2019 as part of a friendship campaign dubbed "Wunderbar Together" ("Wonderful Together"). Germany launched the multimillion-dollar publicity campaign in late 2018 as it smarted from Trump's verbal attacks and a perceived disregard for the U.S. ally.
Steinmeier harked back to an America of the past that "wanted a real partnership and friendship with mutual respect," and said that Germany owed "its unity and freedom" to that America. His trip to the U.S. marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, set to be commemorated in November.
Steinmeier said the two nations "need each other if democracy and freedom are to have a future in the world." He shared his own image of the U.S. through historical snapshots, from President John F. Kennedy in front of Schöneberg Town Hall after the Berlin Wall was built to President Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate shortly before the wall was demolished.
"If we still believe in the great task of democracy, we should still believe in this trans-Atlantic partnership," Steinmeier said. "I do."