Denk ich an Deutsch­land con­fe­rence 2015

On the European continent, borders are being shifted once again, while the European project of integration is in a crisis. In Germany, fringe political forces are becoming stronger. Are we experiencing the end of the age of certainty? The conference took place on 18 September 2015 with speakers including Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, Anne-Marie Le Gloannec, Martin Schulz, Enrico Letta and Heinrich August Winkler.

With the Russian annexation of Crimea and its support for armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine, borders are being shifted once again on the European continent. The economic and financial crisis is challenging solidarity within the European Union. And also within German society, forces that could test the fundamental social consensus are gathering strength. After decades of stability and order - are we now experiencing the end of certainties? The seventh "Denk ich an Deutschland" ("When I think of Germany") conference on 18 September discussed the current developments in three thematic sessions.

DIAD 2015 Atrium Vogelperspektive

The 2015 "Denk ich an Deutschland" conference brings together key figures from politics, business and academia for the seventh time.

After the end of European peace 

The consensus on the inviolability of national borders in Europe is dissolving. "The 21st century will be worse than the 20th", said Anne-Marie Le Gloannec, Director of Research at Sciences Po, Paris, „we better prepare to have securities in our defense." But how can the international community react to Putin's geopolitical challenge, the momentousness of which was emphasized by Ukrainian Member of Parliament Mustafa Nayyem: "What are we going to do - solve the problem, or satisfy Russia?", he asked and appealed: "We as Ukrainians call to the world: Don't be hostages to Russian strategy!" Sergey Karaganov, Honorary Chairman, Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, on the other hand argued the case from Russia's perspective: "We should create an international system with a complete ban on export of value systems." Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament and Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, stressed that the sanctions against Russia symbolised and important step towards a unanimous European foreign policy.

Panel: From Potsdam to Minsk

Panel 1: From Potsdam to Minsk - The End of the Post-War Order
Elmar Brok, Member of the European Parliament and the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs; Jackson Janes, President of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at the Johns Hopkins University; Sergey Karaganov, Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy; Anne-Marie Le Gloannec, Director of Research, Sciences Po Paris; Mustafa Nayyem, Ukrainian Member of Parliament; Chair: Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference

An "ever closer union"?

"Today, for many people Europe is no longer a promise for more, but for less", said Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. Is the European sphere of values shattering under its inability to realize its promise of prosperity? Enrico Letta, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs at Sciences Po and former Italian Prime Minister, said: "The monetary union works, it is the economic union that does not work." The EU is not only unpopular but also ineffective. More integration is necessary. For this, according to Shahin Vallée, Senior Economist at Soros Fund Management and former economic advisor to the French government, the transfer of sovereignty and decision-making power to the European Union is absolutely essential. Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, President of the German-Hellenic Business Association, advocated for openness to changes within the EU.

Martin Schulz Denk ich an Deutschland 2015
Interview: Europe: a giant in chains?
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, Foreign Editor at F.A.Z., and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament
Panel 2: In good times and in bad

Panel 2: In good times and in bad - will Europe hold together?
Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, President of the German-Hellenic Business Association and former Member of the European Parliament (FDP);  Henrik Enderlein, Professor of Political Economy, Hertie School of Governance and Director, Jacques Delors Institut - Berlin; Enrico Letta, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs, Sciences Po and former Italian Prime Minister; Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, Member of the House of Lords, Shahin Vallée, Senior Economist at Soros Fund Management and former Economic Adviser to the French Government; Chair: Katinka Barysch, Director of Political Relations, Allianz

Panel 3: the end of the big consensus?
Panel 3: Germany: the end of the big consensus?
Dietmar Bartsch, Member of the German Bundestag, Die Linke party; Frank Richter, Director, Saxon Centre for Political Education; Jens Spahn, Parliamentary Undersecretary for the Federal Minister of Finance; Member of the German Bundestag and Presidium member, CDU party; Peer Steinbrück, Member of the German Bundestag, SPD party; Chair: Jürgen Kaube, Co-Editor, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Which role can and should Germany play in the future?

In her introductory keynote, Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen outspokenly argued in support of an open Germany in the face of the refugee situation: "If we do it right, then we will say in 20 years: This was an enormous enrichment for our ageing society." Holding on the one's own values and rules are essential for this. Germany's image has been changed entirely between the Greek crisis and the refugee crisis, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis noted. Are Germans on the way, as sociologist Heinz Bude suggested, to becoming the "Americans of Europe – feared, envied and admired"? At least Germany's actions at the moment can also inspire, as Enrico Letta said: "We need to do for the EU what Angela Merkel did in the refugee crisis – with leadership and vision."

Von der Leyen, Achleitner, Matussek
Paul Achleitner, Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, Thomas Matussek

The disintegration of the German consensus society

And Germany? Never before have Germans been more affluent, yet they have seldom been as unhappy. From the success of the new right-wing party AfD to the Pegida movement: A fear of globalization, xenophobia and concern about downward social mobility are feeding a fundamental criticism of institutions. "We underestimate the efforts necessary to maintain the German level of affluence" said Peer Steinbrück, Member of the German Bundestag for the Social Democratic Party (SPD). Has there been too much of a consensus in the past? Dietmar Bartsch, Member of the Bundestag for the Left Party ("Die Linke"), has been missing the necessary big debates in the past years. Also Jens Spahn, Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance, Member of the Bundestag and member of the party presidium of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), advocated for the courage to embrace diversity in the political discourse.

Heinz Bude
Intervention:  Traitors and liar press – the erosion of confidence in democratic institutions
Heinz Bude, Sociologist, University of Kassel
"Denk ich an Deutschland" ("When I think of Germany") is a series of conferences organized by the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft in partnership with the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung. This year the conference was also organised in cooperation with the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
Stephen Green
Keynote: Reluctant Meister - How Germany's past is shaping its European future
Lord Stephen Green, Member of the House of Lords

  • Thomas Matussek, Geschäftsführer, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

  • Berthold Kohler, Herausgeber, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • Paul Achleitner, Aufsichtsratsvorsitzender, Deutsche Bank und Kuratoriumsvorsitzender, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

  • H. A. Winkler Keynote: Was hält den Westen zusammen?

  • Ursula von der Leyen, deutsche Bundesministerin der Verteidigung

  • Ein Videoclip zur Einleitung des ersten Teils der Konferenz zum Thema "Nach dem Ende des europäischen Friedens".

  • Elmar Brok, Abgeordneter sowie Vorsitzender des Ausschusses für Auswärtige Angelegenheiten des Europäischen Parlaments, Jackson Janes, Präsident des American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, Johns Hopkins University, Sergey Karaganov u.a.

  • Gerhard Casper, Präsident, American Academy in Berlin, Fyodor Lukyanov, Chefredakteur, Russia in Global Affairs, Moderation: Thomas Matussek, Geschäftsführer, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

  • Ein Videoclip zur Einleitung des zweiten Teils der Konferenz zum Thema "An ever closer union - mit 28 Mitgliedern?"

  • Martin Schulz, Präsident, Europäisches Parlament, interviewt von Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, Ressortleiter für Außenpolitik, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, ehemaliger Abgeordneter, Europäisches Parlament (FDP); Gründer, Partei Hellenische EuropabürgerHenrik Enderlein, Professor für politische Ökonomie und Vize-Dekan, Hertie School of Governance/Direktor, Jacques Delors Institut u.a.

  • Ein Videoclip zur Einleitung des dritten Teils der Konferenz zum Thema "Die Auflösung der deutschen Konsensgesellschaft".

  • Heinz Bude, Soziologe, Universität Kassel

  • Dietmar Bartsch, Abgeordneter, Deutscher Bundestag, DIE LINKE, Frank Richter, Direktor, Sächsischen Landeszentrale für politische Bildung, Jens Spahn, Bundestagsabgeordneter und Parlamentarischer Staatssekretär beim Bundesminister der Finanzen, CDU, u.a.

  • Lord Stephen Green, Member of the House of Lords

  • Thomas Matussek, Geschäftsführer, Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft

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