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Bonn to Berlin move still controversial
Wolfgang Thierse holds the Reichstag key in 1999. Photo: DPA

Bonn to Berlin move still controversial

Published: 15 Jun 2011 08:16 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jun 2011 08:16 GMT+02:00

Two decades after the German parliament decided to move the government from the Cold War capital of Bonn back to Berlin, some politicians still disagree over whether all functions should be brought from the state of North-Rhine Westphalia.

Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Thierse spoke on Tuesday to mark next week’s anniversary of the decision to move, calling for all ministries which are still in Bonn to be brought north to Berlin.

But Peter Hintze, head of the North-Rhine Westphalian Christian Democratic group said the original agreement should be maintained – by which a number of ministries remained in Bonn.

The original vote was tight – 338 votes to 320 in favour of the move – reflecting the groupings on both sides of the argument that had formed regardless of political party.

The compromise was struck that all ministries would maintain offices in Bonn, while six would remain there entirely. Nearly half of the 20,000 ministry staff still work in Bonn, in these ministries and a collection of other offices. Those in Bonn are the ministries for defence, agriculture and consumer affairs, economic cooperation and development, environment, health and education and research.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said the original Bonn-Berlin law should be respected, but admitted that changes could be possible. He said he had been strongly in favour of the move to Berlin 20 years ago.

“Changes are naturally – as with all contracts – possible in agreement between the contract partners,” he told the magazine Super Illu.

“The division is not sensible in the long term,” argued Thierse, saying the communication within the political body was not helped by the 500 kilometre distance between the cities. He did not call for an immediate move, but said sensible steps could be taken to improve the capabilities of the ministries.

Hintze, who in 1991 had voted against the move, said Bonn remained important symbolically.

“Bonn stands for the German contribution to the European Union and that we returned morally and politically to the circle of free peoples,” he said, although he admitted the move to Berlin was correct.

Thierse said Berlin was also an important symbol of a new Germany. “That German politics now takes place in the middle of East Germany is also an important political-psychological point,” he said.

He said fears that Bonn would be destroyed by the departure of the government had not materialized. “Bonn is doing gloriously,” he said. “Bonn was not damaged economically, socially or culturally by this decision. It is a thriving city.”

DAPD/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:19 June 15, 2011 by John Whitehurst
Politics abound and the waste of money for politics never seems to end.

What does it cost to maintain the different Ministeries in Bonn?

What would it cost to move and house them In berlin? And wht would be the real reason for the move?

If Oboma would move all of the different Ministeries in DC to different states they could perhaps save over 50 Billion a year just cost savings of not being in the DC loop.

Berlin cost of living is how much higher than Bonn?

It never is a good idea to put all ones egges in one basket ( Location ).....

How much additional traffic would this add to Berlin and associated cost in time and travel? Idiots at work again....

John
11:11 June 15, 2011 by LecteurX
John, if you care to read German, you'll find with the following link that real estate in Bonn is approximately 28% more expensive in Bonn than in Berlin...

http://wirtschaft.t-online.de/immobilien-preise-fuer-frei-stehende-eigenheime-2009/id_19183608/index

Then of course the "Spreebogen" area and other parts of Berlin where they locate the ministries are arguably the expensive parts of Berlin... it's possibly the same in Bonn as well, mind you.
18:07 June 15, 2011 by MJMH
Come on Germany. If you want to be taken seriously all posts Ministries must be in Berlin. That's just the way countries work. The USA, Japan, France, even Denmark.
22:29 June 15, 2011 by catjones
Show me an example where distance helps communication.
08:15 June 16, 2011 by DoubleDTown
"even" Denmark?
14:19 June 16, 2011 by moistvelvet
Seems only to be controversial to those government civil servants that may have to move to Berlin. If they don't like it then they could always leave their cushy well paid jobs. But they won't will they.
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