"We must not think we can be protected from political, economic, ecological and military conflicts if we do not participate in their resolution," said Gauck, a former Protestant pastor and whose role as president is honorary.
"I cannot imagine Germany making itself big by dictating its conduct to others, but I also cannot imagine Germany making itself small to avoid taking risks and solidarity," he said, speaking on the 23rd anniversary of the country's reunification. "Our country is not an island," he added.
Gauck also said Germany should ask itself if it was taking on enough of its responsibilities in regard to its neighbours in the East, in the Middle East
and in the southern Mediterranean.
Germany has taken a leading role in trying to resolve the eurozone debt crisis but it has refused to play a part in any future military intervention in Syria, as it did with Libya in 2011.
Each year Germany celebrates the anniversary of its reunification on October 3, 1990, less than a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th, 1989.
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