Welcome. It is exciting to see such a large crowd gathered here this evening. Germany’s impact is strong in all corners of Indiana, and an impact of this magnitude deserves to be recognized. Before I proceed, I want to recognize the 110 German companies that have selected Indiana as a base for your United States operations. Many of you have so generously joined us tonight. We know that this, the week before Easter, is an important week for family time in Germany and thus your attendance tonight is very appreciated.
On behalf of the 12,500 Indiana workers who are employed by German businesses, I’m here to personally say “vielen Dank.” Thank you for the confidence in our people, and thank you for committing to the business environment we have worked hard to build. In Indiana, our focus is always on what we can do to help businesses succeed. And be assured that Indiana knows that trade is a two-way street. As we express our thanks for your investment in Indiana, know that we will continue to encourage our companies to invest and do business in Deutschland – Europe's strongest economy!
Mutual goals connect us, from our economies to our cultures. Mutual character binds us, in our communities and families. The First Lady of Indiana, who joins me here tonight, found a creative way to highlight this truth through an art exchange. While I was in Aachen, she was in Cologne, the sister city of Indianapolis, Indiana’s capital city. She presented the Museum Ludwig with an iconic statue from an Indiana artist that simply says LOVE.
Germany is Indiana’s third largest source of foreign investment and employment. Germany is also the third top importer of Indiana goods. Each year, Indiana exports more than $2 billion of merchandise to Germany, and that number continues to grow.
Indiana is a state that works. ("Ein Staat der arbeitet.") As a state in the middle of America, we like to call ourselves the heart of the heartland. We are the home to the “metal industry” of the United States; we are the state with the highest density of manufacturing in the United States.
Indiana believes in balanced budgets and strong surpluses and reserves. Like Germany, fiscally sound policies are fundamental. In fact, 14 percent of our annual budget is in cash reserves, $2 billion, a position few states can claim. This strong cash position allows Indiana to make investments in education, infrastructure and to maintain business friendly policies. And just weeks ago, I signed into law legislation reducing the tax burden companies face in Indiana, giving us the second lowest corporate tax rate in the United States.
Indiana embraces German investment. This week we announced the expansion of two great German companies in Indiana – Norres in South Bend, VOSS in Ft. Wayne, with more good news expected by week's end. I want to recognize Jan Christoph Wiedemann, who heads Indiana’s office here in Berlin and played a key role in these projects. Our office here demonstrates our commitment to, and the emphasis we place on, Germany.
Another connection is a little less tangible, but I’ve sensed it in everyone I’ve met. It is our common values. In America we speak of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In Germany it is expressed as unity, justice, and freedom.
Today we gather in a capital city, in the landmark Adlon hotel in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate. A city reborn after the tragedy of dictatorship and war...reborn as a unified free Berlin. Standing here, we are reminded of the lessons of the twentieth century.
Especially now, I believe it is imperative that we who believe in democracy and freedom, stand against the forces that would reshape Europe
by aggression. As some claim territorial gains, they forfeit moral ground.
As governor of Indiana and as a former member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the United States Congress, I remember too well the efforts by the United States to "reset" our relationship with Russia just a few short years ago. I said then that, "History teaches us that weakness and appeasement invite aggression" and feared that our country was rewarding an increasingly antagonistic Russia.
With Russian aggression on the rise again, it is clear that our policy of conciliatory diplomacy has failed.
While new sanctions are of some value, in the interest of our alliance, I believe the United States and the EU must respond with deeds more than words to strengthen our economic and strategic defenses.
International trade is vital to our mutual prosperity and leads to good paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. Europe and America should work together to strengthen our economic ties by adopting the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Passage of TTIP will enhance and expand our economic partnerships and diplomatic ties, and I am committed to its passage. I was proud to join a group of 15 American governors in December 2013 to encourage its passage, and I ask each of you for your support as we move this agreement forward for both our countries.
Safeguarding freedom and security has been central to the mission of NATO and the prosperity of the West for more than half a century. With continued instability in the Middle East, and Putin's aggression in Ukraine, I believe we must take immediate steps to strengthen our mutual security by deploying a robust missile defense in all of Europe – including Poland and the Czech Republic – to protect the interests of our NATO allies and the United States in the region.
Stronger economic ties and stronger defenses are the right policy for our two countries and the right strategic response to Russian aggression.
I come here today to renew Indiana’s commitment to Germany, and strengthen the role that Indiana plays in the German-American relationship. Germany is an important element of the economic success of Indiana. We remain dedicated to supporting the growth of German companies who call Indiana home and will continue to work to ensure that Indiana plays a widening role in Germany. I feel confident that our close relationship will continue to grow even stronger in the years ahead.
But I have also come here today to celebrate the progress of a great city and a great people.
The first time I came to Berlin was in 1977. Yours was a city divided. After spending the day in West Berlin, a city revived by Western investment from the Marshall Plan to the Berlin airlift, I made my way through Checkpoint Charlie into the grim reality of East Berlin. From the bright lights of West Berlin, I passed the Berlin Wall into a city and people trapped in the stifling air of Soviet repression. Because of the resilience and courage of the people of this great city, and because of the relentless support of the American people for a free and unified Berlin, division has given way to unity and freedom has replaced tyranny. America stood with you through it all...one president came to the Brandenburg gate, right beside this hotel, and said "Ich bin ein Berliner” and another came and said "tear down this wall." And the wall came down and freedom prevailed in this great city and this great country.
Whatever our momentary challenges, they pale in comparison to what we have overcome for freedom together.
Strengthened by the past and confident of the future, I know the best days for Indiana, America and Germany are yet to come.
Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for sharing a future with us defined by common values and the promise of a prosperous tomorrow.
May God in heaven bless the good people of Deutschland and the great state of Indiana now and always.