Jigme Wangchuk

A delegation of European parliamentarians, predominantly from Germany, gathered in the heart of Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, on October 3 to commemorate German Unity Day.

This day marks the historic reunification of Germany in 1990 when the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) joined with the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

Beyond the festivities, the gathering served as a unique platform for the dignitaries to engage in discussions spanning a wide spectrum of topics, from democracy and liberal values to the freedom of the press.

Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus, a Member of Parliament from Germany, delivered an inspiring address that echoed the sentiments of unity and shared values.

She said, “As we celebrate this day, we are reminded of the values that bind us as a nation—democracy, human rights, liberal values, and freedom of the press, among others.”

Her words resonated with the essence of the occasion, emphasising the common thread of principles that unite nations, transcending geographical boundaries.

Noting Bhutan’s commitment to Gross National Happiness (GNH) and Germany’s dedication to unity and democracy, Aschenberg-Dugnus called upon the two nations to celebrate the unity of these shared values.

Her address encapsulated the spirit of camaraderie and co-operation, with a hopeful tone. She added, “May our commitment to democracy, human rights, and the pursuit of a more just and equitable world continue to strengthen the bonds between our nations and inspire others to follow the path towards democracy and freedom.”

Furthermore, Aschenberg-Dugnus underscored the potential for collaboration on pressing global issues, particularly climate change, which stands as a shared challenge for nations across the world. She said that by pooling knowledge and embarking on joint initiatives, Bhutan and Germany can contribute to the global fight against climate change, setting a powerful example of international collaboration.

The celebration of German Unity Day in the heart of the Himalayas not only commemorated a pivotal moment in history but also symbolised the enduring bonds of friendship and shared values between Bhutan and Germany.

As the European parliamentarians and their Bhutanese counterparts engaged in meaningful discussions and celebrations, they reinforced their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the freedom of the press.

Beyond these shared values, they recognised the potential for collaboration in addressing global challenges, notably climate change.

In an increasingly interconnected world, such exchanges serve as a testament to the power of international cooperation and the resilience of democratic values.

Before the grand celebration of German Unity Day, the visiting parliamentarians, alongside Bhutanese members of parliament and the media, participated in a significant event—the launch of The Thimphu Press Club (TPC).

TPC, inaugurated by Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering and Dr Carsten Klein, the Head of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) South Asia, is poised to play a pivotal role in fostering dialogue and promoting responsible journalism in Bhutan.

This endeavour aligns with the shared values of democracy, human rights, and freedom of the press, echoing the sentiments celebrated on German Unity Day.

The visit of the European parliamentarians to Bhutan was organised and facilitated by FNF in collaboration with the Bhutan Media Foundation.