Good afternoon. First, let me say how honored I am by the presence of so many friends, colleagues, leaders across different communities here in Germany, and also leaders in the partnership that links our two countries. I’m grateful to all of you for being here, grateful for this opportunity as well to be at the Academy of Sciences and Humanities. I heard a little bit from Sigmar about the history, briefly walked the hallways, and I very much appreciate this hospitality.
But it’s an institution with an extraordinary tradition of scholarship, discovery stretching back more than 300 years. And I understand that, among other luminaries, Albert Einstein was a member here, so I should probably let you know that my remarks today will include very little about astrophysics, which will be to everyone’s benefit.
I want to thank all the institutions that are cohosting us, including Atlantik-Brücke. By the way, my own history with the Brücke, the bridge, goes back well more than 20 years. I remember very well spending time with visiting colleagues from Germany during the Clinton administration. But it’s pleasure to be with you, the German Marshall Fund, the Aspen Institute, the American Council on Germany. And I can’t not acknowledge a great friend, colleague going back to my university days, the Clinton administration, the Obama administration, Dan Benjamin. It’s wonderful to see you as well.
Over the years, these organizations have helped build, strengthen, and deepen the ties between our countries. One of the markers of a strong democracy is a robust, independent civil society, and I’m grateful to our cohosts for their contributions to democracy on both sides of the Atlantic and, again, for bringing us together today.