Delivering his speech under a sunny sky at Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, US President Barack Obama began in a light-hearted tone and joked with the crowd.
The President paid tribute to the history of the landmark saying he was “proud” to stand and pay tribute to the past of the Eastern side of the Brandenburg. He then spoke for a while on the subject of freedom saying, “Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity, that struggle goes on.”
Reducing nuclear arms
Obama used the speech in Berlin to announce that he plans to reduce US nuclear weapons “by up to a third”.
Addressing the crowd of 6000, Obama said: “After a comprehensive review I have determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one third.”
Speaking in Berlin for the first time as President, he went on to say that he hopes to hold talks with Russia “to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures”. However, Russia has already announced that the proposed nuclear cuts are likely to face obstacles.
Later in the speech Obama declared that the US will increase efforts to tackle climate change. He told the crowd that improvements had been made “but we know we have to do more. And we will do more.” It is expected that Obama will announce new US global warming measures in coming weeks.
The President also announced he will redouble efforts to close Guantanamo Bay: “Even as we remain vigilant about the threat of terrorism, we must move beyond the mindset of perpetual war and in America that means redoubling our efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo.”
Earlier in the day Obama defended US intelligence methods during a joint news conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that ordinary citizens were not being monitored. During the landmark speech he added: “It means tightly controlling our use of new technology like drones, it means balancing the pursuit of security with the protection of privacy.”