JUNE 10, 2024

German Chancellor pledges support for victims and construction of memory archive in Colonia Dignidad

President Boric was received by Olaf Scholz on his first day of an official visit to Germany. The two leaders also sealed a series of agreements. 

President Gabriel Boric has begun his official visit to Germany, which will focus on investment, innovation, the promotion of human rights and education. The visit began with a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with whom he discussed a series of issues of common interest and sealed a series of agreements. 

Both authorities talked about cooperation in the lithium industry, the use of clean energy, the next World Peace Summit for Ukraine, support on security and human rights issues, in particular the situation of the former German enclave, Villa Baviera. 

The Chilean president stated, “we talked about our National Lithium Strategy, and about the Green Hydrogen Action Plan. We told them about the measures we are taking to address the impacts of the climate crisis, as well as the initiatives we are carrying out to accelerate the growth of our economy, with a focus on boosting innovation.” 

With regard to the fight against the climate crisis, President Boric emphasized, ”today we can proudly say, to give an example, that in our country two thirds of the energy we generate comes from clean sources.” 

“Regarding the lithium industry, our relationship with Germany is tremendously important, and one of the things that we have discussed with the chancellor is precisely the will that exists on the part of both countries to increase our commercial exchange, particularly in an industry as promising as lithium,” Gabriel Boric, President of Chile. 

President Boric explained that bilateral work on security was agreed upon, which includes deepening cooperation between Carabineros (Chile’s uniformed police service) and the German State Police Forces on issues such as transnational organized crime. “We have advanced in our work together, and an example is the memorandum of understanding between the police of both countries,” he stated. 

Conflict in Ukraine and Palestine 

On his participation in the next World Peace Summit for Ukraine, President Boric stressed, “we are going to participate, because both Chile and Germany agree that the war of aggression that Russia is carrying out against Ukraine is unacceptable. It violates the principles of international law and, therefore, must stop, particularly in its bloodiest aspects, such as the Ukrainian children who have been forcibly taken by Russia to its territory.” 

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict was an unavoidable topic during the visit. President Boric insisted that Chile has a state policy to ensure the two-state solution. This policy has remained constant over time and reflects a consensus between different administrations. 

“We condemned from the outset the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas in Israel, and we demand the immediate release of the hostages still in the hands of this organization. At the same time – not in opposition, but at the same time –, we demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and support the proposal that has been presented, which, by the way, allows for the reconstruction of Gaza. We may have some differences here, but we agree on the fundamentals: the two-state solution and respect for international law,” he stated. 

Documentation center in Colonia Dignidad

The president indicated, “with Germany, we have been looking for ways to contribute to redressing the memory of the events that occurred in the former Colonia Dignidad for years. This is a long-standing demand from various groups of victims, both Chilean and German, who suffered different kinds of abuse.” 

In this sense, he recalled that on June 12, 2017, the governments of Chile and Germany signed a memorandum of understanding for the creation of a mixed German-Chilean commission to address the historical memory of Colonia Dignidad and the integration of its victims into society. “And we have taken significant steps on this, in particular in recent days, with the announcement that the process of expropriating a part of Colonia Dignidad will begin. This also has the support of the German government, as Chancellor Scholz has expressed. Germany will contribute significantly and directly to the construction of the Archives and Historical Memory Center, in addition to supporting and continuing to work for the reparation of the victims.” 

Expropriation of land in Villa Baviera 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz highlighted the good footing of relations between both countries, and the joint work that will be carried out in areas such as lithium. 

“To achieve more environmentally friendly and sustainable lithium extraction, we have agreed to strengthen scientific exchange between the research institutes of our two countries. As part of this visit, we have signed an agreement in this regard,” he stated. 

He also highlighted the collaboration agreement between research institutes of both countries in Antarctica, as well as trade relations, which will be strengthened by advancing the framework agreement and the interim trade agreement between the European Union and Chile. “For me, this shows once again how important it is to conclude agreements of this type, because they bring benefits for both parties in a world that is tending to raise more trade barriers than eliminate them.” 

“Tomorrow, we will host the conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine, in which more than 90 countries will be present. But for reconstruction to begin, it is necessary for the war to stop. For this reason, President Boric and I have talked about the peace summit in Switzerland, in which we will participate this weekend,” Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor. 

Finally, he highlighted the conversation he had with President Boric about addressing the historical memory of Colonia Dignidad: “I have conveyed to President Boric my deep respect and support for Chile’s decision to expropriate part of the grounds of what is today called Villa Baviera. This will allow a memory site to be established, and a documentation center in said facility. I would be very happy if this process now gains momentum.”