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POLITICS

Köhler calls for a new German reform push

German President Horst Köhler on Tuesday called for Germany to engage in further reform and modernization of the economy and society.

Köhler calls for a new German reform push
Photo: DPA

“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.

POLITICS

‘Winter of rage’: Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

Experts are warning that economic hardship may lead to protests throughout Germany in autumn and winter - and that they could be infiltrated by right-wing extremists.

'Winter of rage': Experts warn of riots in Germany due to rising energy costs

In view of rising energy costs, supply difficulties, growing unemployment and general pessimism about the future, authorities in Germany are warning that there will be mass protests this year – and that these are likely to be abused by extremists.

The warnings come from civil servants from the federal offices for the Protection of the Constitution or Bundesverfassungsschutz – Germany’s watchdog for safeguarding free democracy at the federal level and in the 16 states.

Stephan Kramer, president of Thuringia’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German broadcaster ZDF that, following the pandemic and the world events of recent months, there is a “highly emotionalised, aggressive, future-pessimistic mood” among the population, “whose trust in the state, its institutions and political actors is tainted by massive doubts”.

He expects that “legitimate protests” will be infiltrated by extremists, especially those from the so-called Querdenker (lateral thinking) scene and that it is likely that some will turn violent.

READ ALSO: How Germany is saving energy ahead of uncertain winter

“What we have experienced so far in the Covid pandemic in terms of partly violent confrontations on social networks, but also in the streets and squares, was probably more like a children’s birthday party in comparison,” Kramer said.

The head of Hamburg’s Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Torsten Voß, told the Funke Mediengruppe that he expects “extremist conspiracy ideologues and other enemies of the constitution” will try to abuse protests for their ideological purposes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, he said “a spectrum of radical opponents of vaccination and so-called Covid deniers have built up a protest infrastructure, with contacts and channels for mobilisation”. This group will try to use this infrastructure for the energy security protests in the autumn, he said.

READ ALSO: German households could see ‘four-digit’ rise in energy costs this winter

Brandenburg’s head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Jörg Müller, also fears that extremists could exploit the energy crisis and high inflation fears for their own purposes.

“Extremists dream of a German winter of rage” he told Welt am Sonntag. “They hope that the energy crisis and price increases will hit people particularly hard so that they can pick up on the mood and advertise their anti-state aspirations. We are following these goings-on with watchful eyes and open ears.”

Vocabulary:

Constitution – (die) Verfassung

Rage – (die) Wut

Violent – gewalttätig

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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