Charles warns Europe security under threat in German speech
published : 30 Mar 2023 at 23:45
BERLIN - King Charles III called Russia's war in Ukraine a threat to European democratic values Thursday in the first speech by a monarch to the German parliament but said allies like Britain and Germany can draw courage from their unity.
Speaking mostly in German throughout the 30-minute address, Charles underlined that "the scourge of war is back in Europe, the war of aggression against Ukraine has brought unimaginable suffering on so many innocent people".
"The security of Europe as well as our democratic values are under threat. But the world did not stand idly by... we can draw courage from our unity," he added.
Charles's first state visit since becoming king after the death of his mother Queen Elizabeth II last year has been viewed as a bid to build bridges on mainland Europe following Brexit.
The themes of reconciliation and a future ahead forged by common values have featured prominently in his speeches.
Charles has blood ties to Germany, but the two countries fought on opposing sides during two world wars.
Speaking at the Bundestag, he pointed to how far Britain and Germany had come in putting their past behind them as he underlined the common values they now share.
"Together we must be vigilant against threats to our values" and face them down resolutely, he said.
- Royal cheese -
After the speech, Charles visited a reception centre for Ukrainian refugees in Berlin in a gesture that the German ARD broadcaster interpreted as "a signal to London".
Germany has welcomed more than a million refugees from Ukraine. The figure in Britain stands at around 160,000.
He then travelled to the surrounding state of Brandenburg to meet members of a British-German battalion before going on to visit an organic farm.
Arriving at the Brodowin "eco-village", Charles picked his way through long grass to receive a small bouquet of flowers from a well-wisher.
He was then led into a warehouse where he helped to make a special cheese that will be dedicated to him, laughing as he scraped a lumpy yellow liquid into a series of moulds with his hands.
Charles has long been a champion of environmental issues, which have formed a key part of his three-day programme.
Among his first engagements on Wednesday was a reception on sustainability, where he met Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Economy Minister Robert Habeck, both from the Greens party.
On Friday, in the port city of Hamburg, he will tour a renewable energy project.
Charles, who has visited Germany 40 times, has always made sustainable farming a part of his visits to the country.
His decades-long commitment to green farming has partly been nurtured by German professor Hardy Vogtmann, a leading voice on organic agriculture who became Charles' advisor in the 1980s.
- Rapprochement -
During one trip to Germany in 1997, Vogtmann arranged for Charles to tour several eco projects in the western state of Hesse, culminating in Charles jokingly being gifted a bag of compost.
On another occasion in 2013, the Welt newspaper said Charles was "clearly in his element" chatting to organic farmers and stroking a piglet on a field in Langenburg, north of Stuttgart.
In 2019, Camilla joined her husband on a tour of an organic farm in Glonn, near Munich, where Charles gamely held a rooster in his arms.
Camilla on Thursday visited an opera house in Berlin, the Komische Oper, with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier's wife, Elke Buedenbender.
On Friday, Charles will take a further step in rapprochement by commemorating victims of Allied bombings during World War II in Hamburg.
Charles' mother was a symbol of post-war reconciliation.
It was World War I that led the British royal family to drop their German name -- Saxe-Coburg and Gotha -- for Windsor.
The British monarch was initially supposed to travel to France before heading on to Germany, but that trip was postponed in the wake of violent pension reform protests.