German Chancellor Angela Merkel: 'Deutsche Welle is a success story'

Deutsche Welle celebrated its 65th anniversary with a ceremony in Berlin on June 5 in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Angela Merkel said that Deutsche Welle had established itself as the "voice of homeland and voice of freedom." It stands for serious journalism and objectivity, she said. "DW is part of the media history of the Federal Republic of Germany. We can say that Deutsche Welle is a success story." Merkel said that DW "can count on the continued support of the federal government."

65 years after the first broadcast, DW is "valued as a reliable partner in the world" and "more in demand than ever." In view of increasing disinformation and targeted false reports, Merkel pointed to the growing importance of DW as a credible source of information. “Deutsche Welle even today is for many a thorn in the side,” the chancellor said. The role of the free media cannot be "valued enough." 

The task of Deutsche Welle to provide European perspectives on the world is becoming even more important as a result of the Brexit, Chancellor Merkel said. 

She also addressed the work of the DW Akademie for worldwide media development and media competence. "This is work for freedom, for democracy," she said. DW's offerings for teaching the German language are - also against the background of immigration - of great importance, Merkel said, adding that DW repeatedly brings "German learners worldwide together in the virtual classroom." 

In his welcoming address to around 350 guests from politics, culture and the media, DW Director General Peter Limbourg emphasized the "great and broad support" that DW is receiving. "The international competition of ideas and opinions has become fiercer. Propaganda, disinformation and the attempt to divide the EU are a sad reality."

Limbourg said that Deutsche Welle has earned itself a worldwide reputation as the "voice of freedom" through excellent, independent journalism since 1953 and has set itself clear goals: "To inform more people - especially those who are exposed to censorship and propaganda. And we want to explain Germany and Europe even better."

Limbourg underlined that part of the German identity was "also the remembrance of the murder of six million European Jews". Reporting on this is part of DW's mission, Limbourg said. "Neither extremists nor nationalists will change our position on this issue."

DW wants to encourage cultural exchange and "convey the cosmopolitanism that people like Humboldt and Goethe exemplified to us. This cosmopolitanism, which is the basis of our success as a country and which is reflected in the works of German artists as well as in the efforts of German development cooperation or in the activities of German industry with its worldwide Investments."

DW also sees itself as part of this German cosmopolitanism. "The cosmopolitanism that we reflect to the outside also shapes everyday life inside our organization," said Limbourg. "People from 60 nations work closely together to create journalistic content in 30 languages. Many world religions are represented within our staff. They all share a common attitude: the idea of freedom and human rights, democracy and tolerance. These are the values which Germany and DW stand for in the world."

Limbourg thanked the German Bundestag and the Federal Government "for the appreciation they have repeatedly shown DW and its work". He referred to the significant increase in the DW budget planned for 2019. This is "the most beautiful and lasting expression of appreciation." The increase will enable DW to fulfill its mission even better, the Director General said.

Because autocrats "are increasingly brazenly restricting the freedom of the press," new paths must be taken, said the director. This also includes the idea of a Turkish-language TV offer, which DW would like to realize together with European partners. "If we take our mission seriously, there is an urgent need for action." This would require additional financial resources. "Freedom and social openness must be worth something to us, especially with regard to our Turkish friends," said Limbourg. Deutsche Welle will continue to fulfil its mission and "approach the many new challenges with optimism and a willingness to innovate."