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New president: dare to have more Europe
Photo: DPA

New president: dare to have more Europe

Published: 23 Mar 2012 12:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 23 Mar 2012 12:10 GMT+01:00

Joachim Gauck used his first speech as German President on Friday morning to call for the country to “dare to have more Europe” in times of crisis, and for determination in facing down extremists.

Gauck, who is the first head of state from the former communist east, delivered the impassioned appeal for more European "solidarity" to members of both houses of parliament, in the sunlight-filled main chamber of the Reichstag building.

"We must keep saying yes to Europe," he said. "Particularly in times of crisis, we must dare to have more Europe."

Languishing under the Nazi and then the communist dictatorships had fuelled his dream a united Europe living in peace and prosperity, the 72-year-old said.

"Europe was the promised land for my generation."

"For my grandchildren, Europe has long been part of their day-to-day reality, with freedom across borders and the opportunities and concerns of an open society. This reality is an achievement, not only for my grandchildren."

Germany, as the rescue-fund paymaster for Europe's stricken member states, has come under pressure throughout the sovereign debt crisis to boost its contributions to the bailouts in the face of Chancellor Angela Merkel's resistance.

The turmoil has also exposed old rifts, with protesters on the streets of Athens branding Merkel a "Nazi" for her hard-line stance.

Gauck, a Lutheran pastor and former East German democracy activist, said he would make the integration of Germany's large immigrant population and the struggle against the far right priorities of his presidency.

In a rousing passage of the 23-minute inaugural speech, Gauck said Germany would stand united in the fight against extremists.

"Your hatred will only spur us on," he thundered in reference to a group of neo-Nazi militants thought to have killed 10 people – mostly shopkeepers of Turkish origin - over a seven-year period.

The murder spree has sparked a new drive to ban the anti-immigrant National Democratic Party of Germany, which had ties to the suspected murderers.

Gauck will make his first trip abroad as president to Poland next week.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:35 March 23, 2012 by ChrisRea
A good first step as a president.
17:32 March 23, 2012 by Englishted
Languishing under the Nazis?

He was 5 when the war ended .
18:04 March 23, 2012 by michael4096
@ Chango Mutney - perhaps it's the speech a brit pres would have made if the brits had had ever had enough balls to embrace europe instead of always fighting it

"...five countries chained together in huge debt..." compared to... Oh! How short memories can be.
19:04 March 23, 2012 by klaus stoiber
What a diplomatic yet expected speech from the president when he said he will fight nazis and integrate foreigners, yet everybody knows, but not everyone wants to accept that if there were to be less foreigners here in germany, then there will be less nazis. If we had more jobs for unemployed GERMANS, we would have less nazis. Its not as if we expected a new president to start saying that foreigners must get out,cmon people, lets accept this.

Neo nazism has many similarities with the original nazis, HOWEVER, they differ in that the germany of today is being overwhelmed by foreigners, eroding german culture, language and fatherland. Which german can honestly tell me that in 20 years from now when they call Deutsche Telekom for help that an automated voice will tell them , press 1 for german, press 2 for turkish.

Neo nazis are here for a reason, and they dont like whats happening in germany. Why should germany become like the USA or London UK? Im happy with what germany was like 50 years ago: less/limited foreigners, strong economy. I dont like whats happening in my country.
21:26 March 23, 2012 by frankiep
Please tell me that you don't have any kids to whom you can spread your disgusting nazi loving worldview to.

Oh, and by the way, 50 years ago Germany's strong economy was being propped up by direct investment from the US and UK....foreigners.
23:13 March 23, 2012 by joysonabraham
@kalus

you often seem to miss many things. How do you think you will have strong economies and less foreigners. When you say no foreigners and then foreign countries say no German products. Where is the strong economy then. People need a car not always a German car. Similarly people need planes and not always a US plane. Germany needs tourist from other countries and other countries needs German tourists too. In today's world no country can produce everything it needs and consume everything they produce. We all need each other.

You need to buy from others, others need to buy from you. Otherwise you wont have jobs to give to nazi unemployed and non nazi unemployed alike. Thats the way it works.

if you say foreigners create neo nazies. Why you cant react in other ways than nazi ways. Reacting violently to foreigners is not the solution and blocking off foreigners is also not the perfect solution.

Solution is in deciding the factors to be verified before giving citizenship. And don't think that all foreigners in Germany are citizens or eating our social security or taking away some job which could have been gone to similarly skilled German. I am not German.

Some of them are tourist, some work here only for a few years(experts in specific fields, they contribute to your social security and leave without taking a dime, they pay taxes too), some have citizenship(if you have problem with these type of people do debate ti with your government rather than attacking all foreigner as if all of them are here to take something away from Germany. As i mentioned in another reply to you the language is not always easy to learn to everyone. You need technically skilled guys and the skills you need to learn technology is not the one you need for language, it varies from person to person. SO just because a few of them speak English or any other language you cant consider them as forcefully rejecting Deutsche from their heart. They may have tried and failed or just slowly improving. How can you klaus decide these things with colour of the people or the language you hear from their mouth.
12:23 March 25, 2012 by Struwel
Which german can honestly tell me that in 20 years from now when they call Deutsche Telekom for help that an automated voice will tell them , press 1 for german, press 2 for turkish."

What is wrong with that? It's just missing - press 3 for English, press 4 for French, still some other languages, perhaps.

"Neo nazis are here for a reason, and they dont like whats happening in germany."

What is the reason and what is happen in Germany what they don't like, please tell us. And why don't they like it?

"If we had more jobs for unemployed GERMANS, we would have less nazis."

I think that that is wrong. More jobs for unemployed Germans wil not change anything. Right now they may try to give the impression that they care about a part (you can be black or brown and still be German but that are not the people they consider to be German) of the Germans but I think that it's about that they want to form the socitey according their picture. First it's against people who's skin have another color or those who don't speak well German, then it goes on to be against gays, those who still have an own opinion and so on until we are back to the times where people believed that every red haired woman is a witch. No, not with me.
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