- History has often showed us the strength of the forces that are unleashed by the yearning for freedom. It moved people to overcome their fears and openly confront dictators such as in East Germany and Eastern Europe about 22 years ago. […] The yearning for freedom cannot be contained by walls for long. It was this yearning that brought down the Iron Curtain that divided Germany and Europe, and indeed the world, into two blocs.
- Also today, the yearning for freedom may well make totalitarian regimes tremble and fall. We have followed with great interest and empathy the profound changes in North Africa and in the Arab world. Freedom is indivisible. Each and every one has the same right to freedom, be it in North Africa or Belarus, in Myanmar or Iran. Still, the struggle for freedom is demanding far too many sacrifices, and claiming far too many victims. My thoughts are with our soldiers, our policemen, and the many, many volunteers who try to help. I humbly bow to all those who risk their lives for the cause of freedom.
- We see that living in freedom and defending freedom are two sides of one and the same coin, for the precious gift of freedom doesn’t come naturally, but has to be fought for, nurtured, and defended time and time again. Sometimes this may seem like an endless fight against windmills. But you see, my personal experience is a quite different one. What we dare not dream of today may well become reality tomorrow. Neither the chains of dictatorship nor the fetters of oppression can keep down the forces of freedom for long.
- Even after the end of the Cold War we are […] faced with the task of tearing down the walls between different concepts of life, in other words the walls in people's minds that make it difficult time and again to understand one another in this world of ours. This is why the ability to show tolerance is so important. While, for us, our way of life is the best possible way, others do not necessarily feel that way. There are different ways to create peaceful coexistence. Tolerance means showing respect for other people's history, traditions, religion and cultural identity. But let there be no misunderstanding: Tolerance does not mean "anything goes". There must be zero tolerance towards all those who show no respect for the inalienable rights of the individual and who violate human rights.
- Freedom is the very essence of our economy and society. Without freedom the human mind is prevented from unleashing its creative force. But what is also clear is that this freedom does not stand alone. It is freedom in responsibility and freedom to exercise responsibility.
- The Freedom Bell in Berlin is, like the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, a symbol which reminds us that freedom does not come about of itself. It must be struggled for and then defended anew every day of our lives.'
- Nicht die Welt muss dem Iran nachweisen, dass er eine Bombe baut, sondern der Iran muss die Welt überzeugen, dass er die Atombombe nicht will.
- Translation: The world does not have to prove to Iran that Iran is building a nuclear bomb. Iran has to convince the world that it is not striving towards such a bomb.
- At the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2007
- Aber Demokratie ist nicht immer eine Sache von einsamen Entscheidungen, sondern in der Regel ein Geschäft der Meinungsbildung vieler.
- Translation: However democracy is not always a matter of unilateral decisions, but normally a business of opinion formation of many.
- Interview in the Berliner Zeitung (berlinonline.de) on November 7, 2007
- Und so wünsche ich mir, dass die Bürgerinnen und Bürger Europas in 50 Jahren sagen werden: Damals, in Berlin, da hat das vereinte Europa die Weichen richtig gestellt. Damals, in Berlin, da hat die Europäische Union den richtigen Weg in eine gute Zukunft eingeschlagen. Sie hat anschließend ihre Grundlagen erneuert, um nach innen, auf diesem alten Kontinent, wie nach außen, in dieser einen großen-kleinen Welt, einen Beitrag zu leisten.
- Translation: And therefore I wish, that in 50 years the citizens of Europe will say: At that time, in Berlin, the united Europe has set the course correctly. At that time, in Berlin, the European Union has pursued a good future. Then it has renewed its fundamentals to make its contribution inwards, on this old continent, as well as outwards, in this big-small world.
- Speech at the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaties of Rome on March 25, 2007
- Der Staat muss fördern und darf nicht einschränken. In diesem Sinne muss er Gärtner sein und nicht Zaun. Wir sollten den Menschen zutrauen, dass sie sich engagieren und Verantwortung übernehmen wollen.
- Translation: The state has to assist and must not constrict. In this spirit it has to be the gardener and not the fence. We should be confident that the people want to get [socially] involved and want to assume responsibility.
- Interview in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (sueddeutsche.de) on May 20, 2006
- Es ist wahr: Europa ist kein Christenklub. Aber wahr ist auch: Europa ist ein Grundwerteklub. Hier bei uns gelten Menschen- und Bürgerrechte. Diese Menschen- und Bürgerrechte beruhen bei uns ganz wesentlich auf dem Menschenbild des Christentums.
- Translation: It is true: Europe is no club of christians. But the following is also true: Europe is a club of core values. Here Human and Civil Rights apply. These Human and Civil Rights substantially are based on the christian idea of man.
- Speech at the 20th federal party convent of the CDU in the Dresdner Frauenkirche on November 27, 2006
- Ich denke an dichte Fenster! Kein anderes Land kann so dichte und so schöne Fenster bauen.
- Translation: I am thinking of airtight windows! No other country can build such airtight and beautiful windows.
- Anwering the question what emotions Germany arouses in her, Interview in the BILD-Zeitung on November 29, 2004
- This is a good day for the world's children. Children who today have no right to their own childhood, to education, to personal inviolability, have with these two representatives, these prize winners, got a voice both for the right to education — particularly for girls — and against unfair and exploitative child labor.