President Obama reaffirmed his desire to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia, and to combat climate change in a speech in Berlin on Wednesday. He also said he hoped to rekindle the spirit Berliners showed when they fought to be reunited during the Cold War.
“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,” Obama said at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. “And I come here for this city of hope because the test of our time demands the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago.”
Obama is calling for a one-third reduction of both American and Russian nuclear stockpiles, arguing that it is necessary to strengthen American security and operate as a deterrent.
The president discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday as an aside to the Group of 8 Summit in Northern Ireland. During Obama’s first term, due to the START treaty, the U.S. and Russia consented to limiting their stockpiles to 1,550.
“Complacency is not the character of great nations,” Obama said. “Today, people often come together in places like this to remember history, not to make it. Today we face no concrete walls or barbed wire.”
Obama paid tribute to President Kennedy’s famous speech condemning communism, nearly 50 years ago.
“If we lift our eyes as President Kennedy calls us to do, then we’ll recognize that our work is not yet done. So we are not only citizens of America or Germany, we are also citizens of the world,” the president said.
Obama also promised to focus on tackling climate change. He called for more action on the issue from other countries, and said that without it the world will face more severe storms, famine, and eroding coastlines.
“Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet,” he said.
Obama’s wishes for collaboration come at a time of tension between the U.S. and Russia. The countries hold opposing positions on Syria’s civil war, and Russia is wary of American missile defense plans in Europe.