German President Joachim Gauck (L) with Rivlin
German President Joachim Gauck (L) with RivlinMark Neyman (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin and First Lady Nechama Rivlin hosted the President of Germany Joachim Gauck and his partner Daniela Schadt at the President's Residence on Sunday, during President Gauck's official visit to Israel marking a jubilee for the inauguration of relations between Israel and Germany.

President Rivlin and his wife welcomed the German President and his partner to the Residence, where the two national anthems were played, and then the two Presidents gave statements to the media.

“We are concluding here today a series of events marking 50 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel,” President Rivlin stated.

The President stressed that today, after 50 years of the establishment of relations between the two countries, the necessity of the connection between the two countries was fully understood.

“One my formative political experiences in life came fifty years ago when I took part in fierce demonstrations, 'against diplomatic relations with Germany'," Rivlin began. "Protests that took place in the name of the dignity of the Israeli people."

"I remember well that at one of the demonstrations, at the presentation of diplomatic credentials by German Ambassador Rolf Pauls, many wore yellow badges as a protest against the playing of the German national anthem at the President’s Residence, and I stood amongst them," he continued. "This was not just my opinion- it was the opinion of many. In passports issued by the State of Israel in its early years, it was written they were valid for all countries – apart from Germany."

"Mr. President, today I am welcoming you to the President’s Residence, having stood and listened to the German anthem played here, and I sensed more than anything that this event closes a personal circle for me," Rivlin stated. "A closed circle, which is also an open circle."

"Fifty years later and the Israeli-German connections still awaken in me a certain sense of discomfort. Fifty years later, and today we know that the Israeli-German connections are correct, and necessary. It is vital for us, and essential for you. We are forever destined to be entwined together in a sense of pain and in hope.”

Mark Neyman (GPO)

The German President thanked President Rivlin for his hospitality, and said, “I am very pleased to be here for the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. These relations are being reinforced thanks to joint projects marking the anniversary, and together we look toward the future. Thank you, Mr. President, not only for the official reception but for the warmth with which you received me and my delegation. We both were born during the war. When the Israeli President, a person such as yourself, who still remembers the past passionately speaks about a visit of friendship, it is another thing to I as an adult in Germany talking about it. The important thing is that we acted in certain ways as human beings and that is the experience that we have gained, and we will pass in onto the next generation.”

President Gauck emphasized the importance of recognition and cooperation between the younger generations, despite the shadow of World War II.

“We are aware that what we have achieved is based on values, and that peace cannot be taken for granted, and that is why it is so important that Israelis and Germans will work together at all levels, not only at the political level, but through culture, civic commitment and science," he said. "We must continue to strengthen the relationship. We have a multi-sectoral relationship and we should rejoice in that.”

The German President emphasized the importance which Germany gave Israeli statements - which were at times critical - over the actions taken by Europe, and the duty of Israel to defend its citizens and its independence.

“We will always listen to Israel's criticism of us, and of Europeans in general, in its various kinds of statements or actions," he stated. "We will listen and take the dangers facing the world very seriously."

"The German Government will time and again state that it is important that the relationship between us will go on and that no one, neither today nor in the future, could negate Israel's right to defend itself and its very existence.”