President Obama Makes Historic Speech in Germany

US President urges Western democracies not to become "complacent" in a post-Cold War era.
41:21 | 06/19/13

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Transcript for President Obama Makes Historic Speech in Germany
This is this special report from NBC news. I'm -- -- in New York with an ABC news digital special reports taking a look live at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Germany the backdrop. For President Obama about to give a speech. The Brandenburg Gate of course a symbol of reunification since the division of the Cold War that's from the Soviet Union split east and west Germany with that. Infamous Berlin Wall. The president. Wanting to speak at that eighteen century landmark back in his 20081. Campaign as president he was projected -- by the German government this time around though. He was invited to speak things at them and you can see. See there an old German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- the podium and to the right of the president there is the mayor of Berlin. From a president expected to talk about nuclear arms control climate change in the fight against terrorism and as waiting with the president to take the podium -- -- -- -- -- -- -- about the content of the speech -- -- keep -- a ping -- back and forth between that live shot in Germany there because there is a bit of translation as well. What is the president's talk about. During a speech. Hey good morning again that's right well this is a big moment for the president he a commission had wanted to speak here -- back and 2008 but now. This is grand moment to kind of address. Some of the big European issues have -- president spent spent a lot of time this is administration focused on Asia. But one of his top priorities here is nuclear stockpile reduction cutting nuclear arms she's had a success forging a new start treaty with Russia in 2010. He's -- use this speech today to talk about cutting them even further. He's is expected to set our goal of slashing nukes by about 30%. Bringing both sides -- about a thousand nuclear weapons each but of course -- to get the Russians who. Right exactly and -- to get a little bit of historical context there as we're looking at the Brandenburg Gate it was June 12. -- 1987. When President Reagan made that famous. Declaration mr. Gorbachev. Some hair down this wall and of course the Brandenburg Gate has been the symbol of the reunification. Germany the gate coming down -- -- in the wall coming down. In 19892002000. Through 2002 -- giggling through a great deal of restoration and obviously it's a symbol of a lot of pride. For those in Germany. Are -- listening to the chancellor Edwards introduce the president. -- I want to ask you a little bit I know that the chancellor and the president met earlier today what do we know what did they -- -- They did well this is a highly anticipated meeting coming up the G-8 summit earlier this week but. One of the big topics on the table was the NSA spying NSA surveillance scandal that is also gripped Europe like Europeans the Germans in particular -- kind of privacy sensitive were expected to raise the issue with the president and at a press conference earlier. He did say that that they discussed the issue and the chancellor seemed to suggest that. She comes along and her understanding a little bit seem to signal that perhaps she'd be -- to accepted that despite some protests earlier that was a big issue on the table. What -- they and one of the things that it will be fun to look at here the optics of this speech coming out is. The contrast with the president's last speech as you mentioned you when he was -- in 2008 -- -- kind of rock star welcome 200000 people. Turned out. We're seeing this crowd here on the screen and if you can see it that just about. 5000 people all invited guests in the German government -- President Obama today took quite a contrast from that -- -- welcome. Five years ago. Certainly the size of the crowd obviously location having great significance as well and the fact of the matter is and not departs too closely into the politics of this -- 2008 obviously. Then. Senator Obama was obviously on -- campaign push. And at the time the German chancellor had said no the Brandenburg Gate is not up for political platform and now this year as we had mentioned. He was invited at that particular venue and now it is the German chancellor who is up for election or reelection in fact -- A lot of people are looking at this as an opportunity that this might be a bit of a political. Statement in a political move on behalf. Chancellor there. Again a little bit of historical perspective in a moment but first the president about -- to the podium. Let's listen in. Thank you chancellor -- gulf war. Your leadership. Your friendship. An example. Of your life. -- -- -- The big east to the leader of a free and united Germany. As I've said. I'm -- I don't. Exactly look like. -- this German and American leaders. But the fact the -- standing here today. Along the fault line. -- city was divided. Speaks. Two and a total troop. No all. Can stand against the yearning of justice. The earnings for freedom. -- -- for peace. The bonds in the human heart. Mayor overrated. Distinguished guests. And especially. The people of Berlin Germany thank you for this extraordinarily warm welcome. In -- -- -- on. And I feel so good but I'm accident take off my jacket and anybody else's. -- -- Informal among friends. The if you're chancellor mentioned. The five years ago I had the privilege to address the city of some of the. Today. -- problem. To return as president of the United States. I'll bring -- made the enduring friendship of the American people. As well as my wife Michelle and -- Sasha. How you may notice that they're not here. The last thing they want to do is to listen to another speech -- make. So we're -- experiencing the beauty and the history. -- -- And -- history. Speaks to us today. Here. For thousands of news. The people of this land of journey from tribe to principality of the nation state. The reformation and enlightenment. Renown as -- land of poets and thankless. Among them the manual count who taught us that freedom is being on the originated birthright of man. And it belongs to him by force of his humanity. Here. For two centuries. This -- stood tall. As the world the only victim Waltz through the rise and fall vampires. Two revolutions. And republics. Art and music and science the reflected the -- of human endeavor but also war and carnage. That exposed the -- of man's cruelty to man. It was here that berliners. Carved out an island of democracy. But -- the greatest -- Resorted to mention they were supported by an airlift of hope and we are so honored to be joined by. Colonel Hal Wilson 92 years old your original candy bomber. We could not be proud of him. I hope I look that good by the way when I'm attitude. During that -- A Marshall plan -- miracle. The north and -- what Atlantic alliance protected our people. And -- in the neighborhoods. The nation's two big east -- frank from the knowledge that freedom was possible here. In -- The waves of crackdowns and suppression. -- therefore someday be overcome. Today. Sixty years after they rolled up. Against oppression we remember these German heroes in June 17. When we hope. Finally came down. It was their dreams -- There were fulfilled. Their strength. Their passion. Very enduring example remind us that for all the power of -- -- -- the authority of governments it is citizens who choose whether to be defined by -- wall. Or whether to -- And we're now surrounded by the symbols of Germany reborn. Rebuild. Rice dog and is glistening glass dome. American embassy back -- its historic home on. Larry there gloves. And the square itself once -- this would no man's land is now open all. So -- I -- not the first American president to come to this day I am proud to stand on its eastern side to pay tribute to the past. -- throughout all this history. The fate of the city came down. To a simple question. Well we -- for him. Or engines. -- -- governments that uphold. Our universal rights -- regimes. But to prosper. In open societies that respect the sanctity. Of individuals and -- free will. For a closed societies but suffocate the -- That's free peoples. We stated our convictions long ago. As Americans we believe that all men are created equal. With a right to life and liberty. And the pursuit of happiness. And as Germans you declared your basic law the dignity of man. Is inviolable. Around the world. World nations have pledged themselves to a universal declaration of human rights which. Recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of all members of argument them. And this -- what was at stake here in Berlin. All those years. And because. Courageous crowds climbed atop that -- Because corrupt dictatorships gave way to new democracies. Because millions across this continent now breathe the fresh air of freedom we can say here in Berlin here in Europe our values one. Openness one. Tolerance one. And freedom one. More than two day. Two decades after that trial. We must acknowledge that there can at times create. A complacency among -- western democracies. Today people often come together in places like this to a member history. Not to make it. After -- -- -- no concrete walls. -- -- -- There -- no tanks poised to cross -- border. -- visits to fallout shelters. Until sometime there could -- a sense that. The great challenges and have somehow pass. Now brings whether the temptation to turn -- -- To think of our own pursuits and not the sweep of history. To believe that we've settled. -- accounts. We can simply enjoy the -- one by our forebears. Like come here today admiral and the -- Complacency is not. The character of great nations. Today's threats are not a -- as they were half a century ago. But the struggle full -- of and security. And human dignity. That struggle goes wrong. And I've come here to this City of Hope because. The Tulsa mark time demand the same fighting spirit that -- Berlin. A half century ago. Chancellor Merkel mentioned the we mark the anniversary of president John F. Kennedy is stirring defense of freedom. Embodied in the people of this great city. His pledge of solidarity. You can -- on -- eleventh. -- -- -- But that's not all that he said that -- Let's remember. Is the challenge that he issued to the crowd before him. Let me ask you he said to those berliners let me ask you to lift your eyes. Beyond the dangers of today. On the on the freedom of -- in the city. Look he said here -- -- -- peace. And justice. Beyond yourselves. And ourselves to all men -- -- president Kennedy was taken from us less than six months. After he spoke those words. And like so many who died in those decades of division he did not live to see Berlin united and for. Instead he lives forever. As a young man in our memory. But his words are timeless because they call. Upon us to care more. About. Things than just stole our own self comfort. About our own city. About our own country they demand that we embrace the common endeavor of all humanity. If we lift our eyes as -- as president Kennedy. Called us to do. There won't recognize the network has not -- done. -- we are not only citizens of America or Germany we are also citizens of the world. And our fates and fortunes. Are linked like never before. We may no longer live in the and fear of global annihilation. But so long as nuclear weapons exist we are not truly -- -- strike blows against terrorist networks but if we ignore the instability and intolerance that fuels extremism. Our own freedom. Will eventually be endangered. We enjoy a standard of living that is in the end of the world. But so long as hundreds of millions -- -- the need of an empty stomach. Where the anguish of unemployment. We're not truly prosperous. I say all -- here in the heart of Europe. Because our shared past shows that none of these challenges. Can be -- unless we see ourselves as part of something bigger than our own experience. Our alliance is the foundation. Of global secured -- trade and -- commerce is the engine. Of our global economy. Our values call upon us to care about the lives of people we will never -- when you -- and hate America lead with a Holtz instead of our fears. We do things that no. Other nations. Can do. No other nations will do. So we have to lift up our -- today and consider. The -- of peace -- justice that our generation wants to this world. Odds are just the peace would justice begins with -- example we said here at home. What we know from our own histories that intolerance breeds and justice. Whether it's based on race or religion gender. Or sexual orientation. -- we are stronger -- all our people no matter who. They are or what they look like are -- opportunity. And -- -- wives and our daughters have the same opportunities. That are husbands and our sons. When we respect the face practiced in our churches and synagogues or mosques and our temples. Were more secure. What we welcome the immigrants with his talents. Or her dreams. We -- -- -- When we stand up for our gay and lesbian Brothers and sisters and and -- their -- on the liberty as well. All people people soon. And maintenance. Adam -- has long has walls exists. In our hearts. To separate us from -- don't look like us so -- think like us or worship. As we didn't. We're gonna have to work harder together. To bring -- walls of division done. This -- justice. Means free enterprise that unleashes the talent and creativity to -- In each of us. -- all other. Models direct economic growth from the top down. -- rely solely on the resources extracted from the -- but we believe. The real prosperity comes from our most precious resource our people. And that's why we choose to invest in education. And science and research. And no. As we emerge from recession that we must not avert our eyes from -- insult a widening inequality. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- We have to build new ladders of opportunity in our own society -- that there. Even as we pursue new trade and investment -- -- growth across the Atlantic. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- That every person can enjoy the dignity that comes from work. Whether they live in Chicago or Cleveland or Belfast or Berlin in Athens or Madrid. Everybody deserves opportunity we have to take common. This -- justice means extending a hand to those who -- for freedom. Wherever they left. Different peoples and cultures will follow their own path but we must reject the -- That those who live in distant places don't yearn for freedom and self determination just like we do. They don't who somehow yearn for dignity and -- blog just like we do. We cannot dictate the pace of change in places like the Arab world but we must reject. The excuse that we can do nothing to support. You cannot -- -- our role of advancing the values we believe -- whether it's supporting Afghans they take responsibility. For their future. War confer an Israeli Palestinian peace. For engaging. As we've -- in Burma to help -- space for brave people to emerge from decades of dictatorship. Essentially these are the citizens who -- to join the free world. They often you -- They deserve our support. They -- in their own way are citizens of Berlin. We have to help them. What does this mean for -- when. The security of a world without nuclear weapons no matter how distant that three maybe. And -- brother not strengthen our efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. And reduce the number and role of America's nuclear weapons. Because the new start treaty we're on track to cut. American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s. Court today. So today I'm announcing additional steps forward. After a comprehensive review -- determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies. And maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent while reducing all deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to 13. And I intend to seek a negotiated cuts would -- -- to move beyond. Coal more nuclear posture. At the same time more work whether NATO -- to seek bold reductions in US. And Russian tactical weapons. -- -- We can forge a new international framework for a peaceful nuclear power. Rejects. The nuclear. Weapons nation. That North Korea and Iran may be seeking. America will host a summit. In 2016 to continue our efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world and we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the comprehensive. Nuclear test ban treaty and call on all nations to begin negotiations on a treaty that ends the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons. These are steps we can take to create. A world. -- -- -- This would just -- means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher. -- -- -- -- The effort to slow climate change -- -- bold action. And on this Germany and you're glad. In the United States we have recently doubled -- -- Energy from clean sources like wind and solar power. We're doubling fuel efficiency on our cars are dangerous carbon emissions have come down but. We know we have to do more. We will do more. To -- middle class. That's consuming more energy every day this must now be an effort. Of all nations not just some. For the -- all turnabout that's all nations. More severe storms. More famine and floods. New waves of refugees. Coastlines that managed oceans that -- this is the future we must divert. This is the global brother -- on. For the sake of future generations. All our generation must move toward a global compact to confront -- big change -- climate before it is too late. It is our job that is attacked we have to get to -- This would justice means. -- -- moral obligations. A moral obligation and a profound interest in helping left. The impoverished corners of the world. By promoting growth so we spare a child born today a lifetime of extreme poverty. By investing in agriculture so we are just sending food but also teaching farmers to grow -- By strengthening public health so we're not just sending medicine. But training doctors and nurses will help end the outrage of children die from preventable diseases. Making sure that we do everything we can to realize the promise and achievable. Promise of the first aids free generation that is something that is possible. If we feel -- efficiency -- Are -- have to be about more than just -- They're -- new models of empowering people to build institutions. To abandon the -- of corruption. According -- ties of trade not just they. Both with the west and among. The nations that are seeking to rise. An increase. Their capacity because. When they succeed we will be more successful as well. -- -- We cannot ignore. Those. Who are -- not only for freedom. But also prospered. And finally let's remember the peace with the justice. Depends on our ability to sustain both the security of our societies and the openness that defines the -- threats to freedom don't really come from the outside. They -- emerged from within. From our own fears. From the disengagement of our citizens. For over a decade. America's been at war. That much is now changed. Overlooked the five years since all I spoke here in Berlin. The Iraq War is no. -- war is coming to an end. Osama bin Laden is no -- Our efforts against al-Qaeda. -- -- And given these changes last month I spoke. About America's efforts against terrorism. Drew inspiration from one of our founding clubs James Madison. Who wrote no nation. Could preserve its freedom in the mix -- continual. Warfare. James Madison is right. Which is why even as we remain vigilant about the threat of terrorism. We must move beyond the mind set a perpetual war. And in America that means redoubling our efforts to close. The prison at 110. -- this tightly controlling. Our use of new technologies like drones. That means balancing the pursuit. Of security with the protection up front this. I'm confident. The -- balance can be struck. I'm confident of that. And I'm confident. That working well Germany we can keep each other safe. While at the same time maintaining. Those essential values. For which we -- -- front programs. Are bound by the rule of law and -- focus on threats to our security not the communications of ordinary person's. They help confront real dangerous and they keep people safe here in the United States. And here and you're. But we must accept the challenge that all of us in democratic governments -- To listen to the voices. Who disagree with us. To have an open debate. About how we use our powers. And how we must constrain them. And they'll always remember that government exists to serve the power of the individual and not the other way around. That's what makes us who we are and that's what makes us different from -- on the other side. They won't. That is how will stay true to our better history. While reaching for the day of peace and justice that has to come. These are the beliefs that guide us. The values that inspire us. The principles. The bind us together as -- free peoples. We still believe the -- of Baltimore -- you can do little injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And we should all ask. Should anyone ask if our generation has the courage to -- these tests. If anybody asks -- president Kennedy's. Words ring true today let them come to Berlin. For here there will find the people who emerged from the ruins of war to -- the blessings of peace. From the pain of the -- to the joy of reunification. And here they will work -- how people trapped behind -- wall braved bullets and jumped barbed love. And dashed across minefields and dogs and tunnels and -- from buildings and swam across the spurs. To claim their most basic right of freedom. Okay. The walls. Belongs to mr. -- history to make as well. And the heroes the came before. Us. Now called us to live -- to those highest ideals. To care for the young people who can't find a job in our own countries and the girls weren't allowed to go to school. Overseas. To be vigilant in safeguarding our own freedoms but also to extend a hand to those -- -- reaching. For freedom abroad. This is the lesson of the -- This is the spirit of Berlin. And the greatest tribute that we compared to those who came before us is my carry on their work to pursue peace and justice. Not only in our countries but for all mankind. -- -- The United States for the -- -- The president wrapping up a historic. Speech. -- -- You can see as -- -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel along on the right there. Berlin. President taking office told the very beginning of that address is nearly nine degrees. If there. President making a very informal addressed the crowd saying were among friends -- take up Jack. And obviously the crowd here didn't. Very warm day there a way to bring in ABC's Kevin required to offer them that context about this speech because -- obviously this is a very historic day. We had mentioned before it the president took to the states that back in 2008 he was there obviously as a candidate he was not allowed to speak at Brandenburg Gate. He had a rock star reception -- a couple 100000 actually came out smaller crowd today but still nonetheless it looks is that there was a good reception from him. That's right enemy they were very enthusiastic about the president's -- people cheering we understand medics were running through the crowd it was so hot people of them waiting for hours lining up for water. But what you saw here was the president trying to harness history harness this symbolism of the landmark he's -- To really underscore this is vintage Obama won the major themes of his presidency right to change happens. Democratic grassroots movements you heard and -- complacency. Is not the character of great nations he said. That good people need to make history. Not just remembered that. What's intrastate and we. Been tweeting about the stepping back and forth this that two major lines that have come out of speeches from Germany. One coming from JFK back in 1963 -- bin Ein Berliner -- -- -- Berliner obviously about. These strength in the resilience and the support of the United States was offering. Two Germans at times two years after the wall was built and that in 1987. When President Reagan. Made that famous lines saying to the Soviets mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall. And hasn't been listening. To the president speaking today what struck you what lying. Stood out for you that may be carried on through the years as we will listen to the way that US and German interactions have played out through history. Of the one that. Really stood out to me was the one I just quoted that complacency is not the character of great nations -- -- in in the context of everything. That we've heard the president on this European trip the first of his second term. We're Syria has -- been at the forefront and in his trying to room. Do you have bring together European nations and Russia. To do something in Syria pretty significant moment here of course touched also on climate change and reducing -- nuclear stockpiles and a number of other initiatives. But again that major theme here that -- nations cannot be complacent. That they need to work together. We heard a similar theme during this morning twelve campaign here in the US and a host of challenges this country faces we just heard it again you from him in Kennedy international Reno in -- it will be interesting to see how that carries forward now to the next three and a half years. And obviously the address of nuclear arms had been directed towards Russia -- at the same time the president also making mention of North Korea and Iran as well. Somebody of the topics that he mentioned as well equality. Not only for sex sexual orientation and but also race and that seemed to really get a big response from the ground. Neck -- a huge huge applause line from from the crowd there's something that of course given. The history in Germany there at that -- and it's very significant other thing that struck me was. -- direct reference to the NSA surveillance programs here he took on directly. The Germans in the Europeans concerns about these programs and he said look -- -- balance can be struck here he's confident about that. He said very clearly that these are bound by the rule of US law that they're only. -- DNC is only going after suspected terrorists trying to reassure his audience here directly in Europe something. We don't usually see from an American president and that also seem to oversee. It was something that obviously during the G-8 summit in NORTHERN IRELAND and obviously was addressed not only within the summit members that were attending that obviously Austin's been planet as you pointed out throughout Europe and throughout the entire world. I know earlier today the president had met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel what was the discussion. That that took place. They talked a lot about Syria today they talked about the difficulty. Of the past summit of -- -- -- proven to come to the table on that he didn't budge. But the president said that it's important for for the Europeans to forge ahead with some sort of action -- to arm the rebels in which he announced last week. They also talked a little bit about the NSA spine and they talked they talked to good -- is as well about. About this nuclear ideal this trade deal that they've been working on -- G-8. Indeed it was interest seen as we talked at the outset that this is kind of a political year for Merkel says she was seem to be very pleased to be standing by the American president who of course. Is still popular in Germany even if that crowd of 200000 didn't turn out today. Right exactly I mean and again not to make too much out of this but it is interesting to point out the fact that back in 2000 -- when the president wanted to make speech. Obviously. Of great magnitude at Brandenburg. The Brandenburg Gate he was denied that -- still over look at the video from that speech in 2008. It was just at the height look at visibly how much he has changed. I -- in that time and you can see I was -- from the size of the crowd there. Quite different venue as well in his gray hair to -- and then. Yeah I've asked that absolutely. Some of it easier way to -- that he's played out in numerous times -- court. And obviously a little bit more favorable weather conditions as well not exactly ninety degrees out there. But the relationship between the German chancellor and the president has certainly been our relationship has been very fascinating to watch over the years and and as you put it out there -- the a chance or herself is up for reelection now this in fact. Based on the reception there and based on the -- the ongoing moving back and forth between the European Union and and and and any kind of concerns economically with Germany. She has such a different economic outlook to that was one of the topics they -- -- -- Merkel -- to put it in simple terms as someone who's favored cutting costs slashing budgets cutting spending across Europe that is huge debt crisis just sister in the United States. -- of course Obama as we've heard over and over again believes. Primarily in investing more spending more government spending accounted drive jobs and drive growth that's been a big difference between these two leaders and we saw -- on display again today. Even though they managed to flashing spark some smiles -- there have been. Right there where there was a warm introduction that the -- that the -- -- given to the president -- before the mayor for land had introduced both of them through it. Service certainly -- dynamics and and obviously wrapping up. The president's trip there are any other any other items on the Jennifer the president before -- returned stateside. Well he's -- every night now with the First Lady and daughters who worked at the speech she -- made a joke there at the top that they have heard. Enough of his speeches they've been sightseeing around town today they visited the holocaust memorial. As -- a few other sites this afternoon. And then he said he had to back got to Washington he'll be back -- around midnight tonight. To get back to work a lot of things on the agenda here with immigration reform this. Very very insignificant trip obviously not only starting off in NORTHERN IRELAND with the G-8 summit but obviously -- them here in Germany. Platform and -- -- the president wanted to make -- few years back and now he's making it with. Little bit larger title in front of his name presidents -- instead -- senator ABC's Devin guard Devin thank you so much for the insight and the analyses certainly appreciate that. Of course have a complete recap on Of the president's trip to Europe not only the G-8 summit but also from that historic speech. Made at the Brandenburg Gate in Germany for now I'm down -- New York with this ABC news digital special report. This has been a special report from me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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