SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

New president: dare to have more Europe

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.

New president: dare to have more Europe
Photo: DPA

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

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

SHOW COMMENTS