Start main page content

"Virus of violence is worse than Ebola"

- By Vivienne Rowland

 Violence is the biggest threat to peace and democracy in the world, says the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Steinmeier spoke at the South African Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA), at an event co-hosted by Wits, SAIIA and the German Embassy in South Africa.

Speaking on Participation, Rules and Responsibility – Three Pillars for International Cooperation to Strengthen Peace, Security and Welfare in Africa and the World, Steinmeier said that while the world fears the serious outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, violence poses a far bigger threat to stability and peace.

“People want to be heard. My advice to governments is to listen to its people. Each person has the right to shape his or her own destiny and needs the right to equal participation,” said Steinmeier.

He said that Germany and South Africa can work together and inculcate a culture of solidarity, by learning to balance the interest of management and workers in business.

“If individuals feel safe and minorities (are) protected, there is less reason for violence. Rules and international order won’t just fall into our laps. We can learn from South Africa – it is a country which takes responsibility for its continent,” he said.

Steinmeier further said that Germany is the one of the biggest supporters of the African Union and peace architecture. “The virus of violence is the oldest and most dangerous threat to humankind. South Africa is an example of how (political) violence and hatred can be overcome. The virus of violence is global – it transcends borders and spreads easily.”

Listen to Steinmeier’s full address