Helmut Schmidt Lecture 2023 Welcome Remarks

held by Peer Steinbrück on 4 December 2023

Peer Steinbrück hält eine Rede

Dear Professor Moritz Schularick,
Dear guests, partners and friends,

On behalf of the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung, I very warmly welcome you to our 2023 Helmut Schmidt Lecture. 

With this annual event, we commemorate one of the most important German statesmen of the 20th century. Helmut Schmidt is – among many other things – remembered as an international thought leader, a reflective mind, a brilliant public speaker and, of course, as the chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in times of global crises and changes. Throughout his political and personal life, he was a strong advocate for international peace, economic cooperation and democracy.

Therefore, in 2017, the German Bundestag established a foundation in his name – but with a mission that goes far beyond merely commemorating Helmut Schmidt: we at the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung aim for deepening our knowledge on international peace, economic cooperation, and democracy also in the 21st century – in Germany, Europe, and the world.

Following this mission, it is already the third time that we invite an outstanding public personality to deliver the Helmut Schmidt Lecture. At our inaugural lecture in 2021, Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke about “Living democracy!” and last year, Hatice Cengiz, human rights activist and fiancée of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi talked to us about the importance of “Speaking Up”.

This year, it is our great honour and pleasure to welcome Professor Moritz Schularick to deliver the Helmut Schmidt Lecture on “Remaking Globalisation!”.

With his extensive research on economic history and political economy, Professor Schularick sheds light on the complex challenge of rethinking globalisation. His dedication to engage in public policy discourses to advance economic knowledge is very much in line with Helmut Schmidt’s engagement to foster debates across disciplines and sectors.

Only this summer, Moritz Schularick took over as President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). The Kiel Institute has a clear mission: “Understanding and shaping globalisation.”

“Understanding and shaping globalisation” was also a central goal for Helmut Schmidt who was awarded the Kiel Institute’s Global Economy Prize in 2007. Already in 1998, Helmut Schmidt published a book that was devoted to this topic. Notably, its subtitle ‘political, economic and cultural challenges’ perfectly subsumes not only the state of globalisation in the 1990s – but also today. 

“Understanding and shaping globalisation” also describes how the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung approaches the issue of globalisation. Considering today’s polycrisis, we aim to rethink the interplay of politics and economics, to find new paths for global trade governance and to re-evaluate a more active role of the nation state in national and international economics.

When looking at the current state of the world, it seems somewhat ironic that a little over thirty years ago, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed the “end of history”, portraying the model of liberal democracy as the ultimate state of historic development of humankind. 

Of course, the fall of the Iron Curtain can be considered the end of the bipolar world order of the United States of America and the Soviet Union. But in light of the developments in recent years we must also come to the conclusion that the end of history never had an end. Rather, we are witnessing the beginning of a new era.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his cabinet have emphasised that the current changes on the international level can best be described as the evolution of a multipolar world order. This comes with new demands, challenges, but also opportunities. Economic globalisation as we all have experienced it over the last thirty years or so, has produced winners and losers. While global trade dramatically increased, the share of the economic growth has not been distributed equally. On the contrary, in most countries of the world, social inequality is on the rise. And so is economic nationalism. 

Furthermore, a new systemic rivalry between the United States and China dominates our international system, leading some politicians and commentators to paint the sinister picture of a ‘new Cold War’. And even though national economies show an unprecedented level of global interconnectedness, national governments increasingly view economic dependencies as a security threat: global supply chains are being interrupted and redirected for political purposes. 

Unfortunately, the international community is far from finding solutions to these challenges collectively. Global trade governance in the name of globalisation seems no longer possible. The Covid-19 pandemic and the war of aggression Russia wages against the Ukraine have not made it easier to find solutions to these challenges on a global scale. 

This is merely a rough sketch of some of the challenges we are currently facing. But it clearly highlights the demand for rethinking what we mean when we talk about globalisation.

Luckily, we have a distinguished speaker here with us today who has already done an incredible job in researching exactly the question of how to remake globalisation: Professor Schularick.

Dear Guests,

Before I hand over to Professor Schularick, let me briefly say a few words of thanks.

To begin with, I would like to thank the outstanding team at the Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung. They have not only organised this event tonight but also put together the third issue of the BKHS Magazine, which we will also launch later tonight. I know that everyone in the team went above and beyond the call of duty to put this event and the magazine together. Thank you very much for that!

Let me also thank Deutsche Welle, whom we are very glad to have as our media partner for this year’s Helmut Schmidt Lecture again. Deutsche Welle has been promoting democratic values, human rights and the dialogue between cultures for more than six decades. With its programme being available around the world and in more than thirty languages, it is fair to say that Deutsche Welle truly represents a bright side of globalisation.

And now, it is my great pleasure to give the floor to Professor Moritz Schularick – we could not imagine a better and more esteemed speaker to speak about ‘Remaking globalisation!’

Thank you!

Peer Steinbrück hält eine Rede

© Bundeskanzler-Helmut-Schmidt-Stiftung, Michael Zapf

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