"We shouldn't disparage what we've already achieved or turn back at all," Köhler said on Tuesday in his third 'Berlin Talk' - a type of state of the nation address - at the Bellevue Palace. "Instead we should heartily continue on the path that's proven to be right," he said.
Köhler praised former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010 reform programme which he said had provided 1.6 million Germans with jobs, and suggested an Agenda 2020 program to continue overhauling the country.
Growth shouldn't be perceived as threatening, Köhler said. "It makes the world better, and right now the Germans are called on to make the world better and we can do it with good business," he said.
But businesses need to act as good examples, he continued, citing recent corporate spying and tax evasion scandals. "Here, the rich, beautiful and powerful are not allowed to run red lights," he said.
In his previous national addresses, Köhler has criticized the German school system, and this time he suggested that businesses should invest in education for the future of the economy.
German businesses need more qualified employees, which means the country needs to engage a clever immigration policy to win talent, the president said. This means naturalization and the right to democratic participation for those who choose to integrate and want to stay long-term.
Köhler's call for changes in attitude toward immigration also counts for education, he said. "It's shameful how often someone's ancestry burdens their future in our education system," he said.