Message from Ambassador Tesch
Our bilateral 60th anniversary of full diplomatic relations continued to provide a welcome context for a number of high-profile activities, spurred early in the year by two visits by then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd to Germany, one for bilateral talks in Berlin and the other for the Munch Security Conference. Ministers agreed that, while much had been achieved, there still was great potential in the relationship. They decided that we should develop a strategic framework to guide the evolution of bilateral relations over the mid-term. We are working on this in consultation with the German foreign ministry and with a wide range of agencies in Australia.
Our bilateral collaboration in the global arena was highlighted at a well-attended and received panel discussion held at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Berlin. Participants considered Australia's regional role and the scope for joint German-Australian activities in pursuing our shared regional and broader interests, including in development assistance and other third-country projects. This occasion also provided the backdrop for the launch of a significant new German-language publication on Australia, the ‘Länderbericht Australien', published by the Federal German Agency for Political Education (www.bpb.de/125303/laenderbericht-australien).
Taking advantage of the presence of Australia's leading photovoltaic expert, Professor Martin Green, for the Intersolar trade show, the Embassy partnered with Austrade and Brand Australia to host a significant industry event - the Australia-Germany Solar Future Forum - which showcased opportunities for collaboration in renewable energy.
These activities were complemented by functions leveraging visits by a mining delegation from Western Australia, led by the head of the State's Chamber of Minerals and Energy, Mr Reg Howard-Smith, and, separately, the European Australian Business Council (EABC), both providing opportunities for advocating key messages to target groups and the media.
Looking back even further than our 60 year relationship, we marked the 100th anniversary of the first official Australian government visit to Germany in 1912 - by the London-based High Commissioner at the time and former Prime Minister, Sir George Reid - with a reception at the Embassy and, jointly with the State of Victoria, a commemorative horse race for the ‘Sir George Reid Memorial Trophy' at Berlin's historic Hoppegarten racetrack.
Finally, Australian Indigenous art featured on a large scale to underscore German interest in Australia's heritage, with several leading artists prominently included in this year's dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel. Two of these were also presented in a show at the Embassy for NAIDOC Week, the annual Australian event in early July celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
On a personal note I am pleased to have had confirmation that my posting in Berlin has been extended by a year, so I look forward to continuing to work closely with ABIE through October 2013.