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Steinmeier: ‘Pandemic Will Not Just Disappear All of a Sudden’

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s Christmas speech was just aired on German television. Like last year, getting through the Corona pandemic was its main subject.

Berlin, December 25th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Looking back at this year, many things had caused sorrow and fear, Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the German nation in his televised Christmas speech. He mentioned the flooding in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate in July, the return of the Bundeswehr soldiers from Afghanistan in August and the plight of the people who had stayed behind over there, as well as the situation in Eastern Europe. He did not elaborate on the latter point, but he meant the threat posed by Russia.

Help and Solidarity

Other events of this year had led to hope, Steinmeier stated, including all the help and solidarity the flooding victims had gotten. Many Germans, especially young ones, had taken a stand for climate protection. The President also mentioned the many people who had taken part in important elections this year, and talked about the smooth transition of power that had followed. Many people were looking at the new government with hope, Steinmeier stated. He did not forget to mention volunteers who had helped people in need in Germany’s society throughout the year.

“And there is Corona”, he said. “For almost two years, the pandemic has affected our lives, over here and all over the world. Seldomly have we seen how vulnerable human life is, and how unpredictable the future.” Frank-Walter Steinmeier talked about the immediate danger posed by Corona: “Once again, we need to restrict ourselves in order to protect everyone from a new virus variant.” But he said people were not powerless. “I am sure most have understood the chance provided by vaccinations.” A lot of suffering and deaths had already been prevented.

Big and Quiet Majority

“The state is challenged and needs to act”, the President stated. “But not on its own. The state cannot wear the mask or get immunized for us.” Steinmeier thanked “the big, sometimes quiet majority which has been acting in a responsible way for months.” More than ever, people depended on each other. Of course there we arguments, uncertainties and fears, and it was important to express them. “Nobody will be kept from doing so here. The question was how we talk about it, in the family, among friends, and in public.”

“After two years of Corona, frustration is spreading, as well as tenseness and, unfortunately, open aggression”, Steinmeier said, referring to Corona deniers and other conspiracy theorists. “In democracy, we do not have to share one and the same opinion”, but people needed to remember that “we are one country. We want to look each other in the eye and talk to each other after the pandemic.”

Freedom and Trust

According to President Steinmeier, the pandemic will not just disappear all of a sudden. He said the world would have to deal with it for a long time. He also asked rhetorical questions: “A loud protest against any regulation: Is this freedom? Or does freedom also mean to restrict oneself at times, in order to protect other people’s freedom?” Freedom, trust and responsibility: There needed to be a consensus on what these aspects meant.