The Hill: CBYX funding cuts are “the wrong decision,” according to former U.S. ambassadors to Germany

Five former U.S. ambassadors to Germany believe that the decision to cut funding for the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program (CBYX) by 50 per cent “runs contrary to U.S. interests”:

“At a time when our two countries need to work together more closely on numerous transatlantic and global issues, slashing this successful program is the wrong decision for German-American relations.”

In an open letter titled “A Vital Investment in the German-American Strategic Partnership,” published by The Hill, the ambassadors urge the U.S. State Department and Congress to restore funding for the program, citing the need to strengthen and maintain our international partnership. The ambassadors note that just last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the U.S. for meetings with President Obama in which the two discussed various foreign policy issues. Conflict in Ukraine, as well as violent extremism and ISIL in the Middle East are two such foreign policy issues requiring U.S.-German collaboration, according to the letter.

Over the past 30+ years, CBYX has enabled 23,000 German and American high school students and young professionals to live, study, and intern in each other’s country. This investment in youth from both countries is crucial, according to the ambassadors: “They are tomorrow’s leaders and the investment in their future must be our highest priority.”

The letter also notes that mutual understanding between the U.S. and Germany cannot be taken for granted; rather, it requires a continued commitment, through programs like CBYX:

“Today, CBYX remains crucial to building relationships amongst our young people and citizens, especially at a time when opinion surveys demonstrate that the German public is increasingly skeptical of the United States.”