'Age-old' Schmidt damns Merkel's euro policy
Former chancellor and German political sage Helmut Schmidt gave his successor Angela Merkel a damning end-of-year report for her European policy on Thursday, saying it was the opinion of an "age-old man."
"What's missing is leadership," the 94-year-old Schmidt wrote in Die Zeit, the weekly newspaper he publishes. But at the same time he warned against Germany taking a dominate position in Europe. "Only the German-French tandem can take the lead in Europe," he said. "We should avoid a German leadership role!"
He said that even though he had been raised an Anglophile in Hamburg, he had realized in the early 1960s that "you can't do anything without France." Now he would also include Poland in that axiom, he said.
Schmidt also said that the only European figure whose anti-crisis policy had been successful in 2012 was Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank (ECB), whose decision to buy up government bonds from troubled European countries had been "relatively inflation-free."
"All the German fear-mongering about impending inflation was superfluous," Schmidt wrote. Merkel, meanwhile, had mainly worked on putting off uncomfortable truths until after the general election in autumn 2013, he added.
Schmidt also threw his weight behind the European Union project, saying all Europeans had a "moral duty" towards solidarity - which he said was the original motive behind the creation of the political bloc. "Today our solidarity with the people of Greece is just as necessary as it was then," he wrote, before quoting Social Democratic Party politician Julius Leber, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Third Reich: "The will to power must grow out of the duty to the community."
"But the duties to the European community will need a much greater contribution from all participants in the future," he wrote.