Tag Archives: Germany

Chancellor Merkel Meets With President Medvedev

Chancellor Merkel of Germany flew to the Russian black sea resort of Sochi to meet with Russian leader, Dimitry Medvedev. The purpose of her meeting was to reduce tension which had risen over the past few days as charges and threats flew back and forth from Russian and American diplomats. Merkel urged President Medvedev to respect the territorial integrity of Georgia, but he felt in light of the Georgian invasion neither South Ossetia nor Abkhazia wanted anything to do with being part of Georgia. Merkel argued for an international peace keeping presence in Georgia which was not opposed by the Russian leader. “We are not against international peace keepers,” he said, but emphasized South Ossetia and Abkhazia would not accept them and only wanted Russian soldiers to protect them.

Chancellor Merkel was able to get a slight backing down on the part of Russian leaders when she expressed concern over remarks made by General Anatly Nogovitsyin who hinted at an attack on any missile bases the US would build in Poland. Medvedev expressed his sadness at the American decision to construct missile bases in Poland but assured Chancellor Merkel, although that decision is “sad news for all who lie on this densely populated continent, but it is not dramatic.”

Neo-Nazis Use Internet As Weapon Of Attack

Neo-Nazis in Germany are using the Internet as part of their campaign to intimidate and silence those who oppose their message of hate. Left-wing politicians and activists are discovering their names, photos, and addresses published on web sites in order to encourage these two bit thugs to resort to messages of hate and violence. The police are powerless in most cases to do anything about posting messages filled with anger on a web site. Rainer Sauer, a politician from Bocholt, has received countless insults and death threats via the Internet. He has discovered Nazi symbols painted on his garage door and shots fired in front of his home. There are an estimated 1,700 far right wing Web sites in Germany.

A judge in Kiel sentenced a member of the right wing National Democratic Party to pay a fine. Within days, his address was published on a Web site along with information about his children and urgings to pay him a visit. Trade unionist Ruth B. had words sprayed on the wall of her house and her car was painted by neo-Nazis as a warning.

The Internet is a source of democracy and has strengthened forces of free speech, but along with all important innovations in expanding human rights come the lap dogs of terror and hate trailing in its wake.

Geman Foreign Minister Checks Out Afghanistan

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a surprise visit to Afghanistan where he will spend four days examining the situation. The trip was made hours after he spent time with Senator Barack Obama discussing the topic of Afghanistan. The government of President Karzai has come under increasing criticism as the Taliban grows in strength, corruption is rampant, and the military appears uncertain how to deal with the Taliban. Both Obama and his opponent, John McCain have pledged to send additional troops to the beleaguered country. The German government is concerned it will be called upon to supply more troops and the foreign minister wants to find out if additional troops are the issue or does change require rethinking who leads Afghanistan.

Steinmeier is considering dispatching more troops but first he wants assurances President Karzi will deal with corruption and bring a greater sense of stability and vigor to the fight against the Taliban. A few years ago, Steinmeier referred to Kabul as a stable city, but this time he will be forced to ride in an armored car and even wear a bullet proof vest.

German politicians are confronted by the reality their nation does not want more troops in Afghanistan. Perhaps, it is time to rethink what is happening in Afghanistan and develop a new strategy that encompasses both economic and military reform.

Germany’s New Rock Star–Barack Obama!

American presidential candidate, Barack Obama, has captured the fancy and delight of millions of Europeans as he makes a first swing through the continent. He will arrive in Germany on Thursday where he will be greeted by enthusiastic supporters, given the latest polls indicate he leads John McCain in popularity in the European nation by a margin of 70% to 10%. The Democratic nominee has captured the imagination of Europeans in a manner to what they felt about John F. Kennedy. Europe seeks new leadership to deal with the myriad of issues ranging from terrorism to economics to integration of immigrants to creating a new society. They are turning westward in search of someone who can provide a new sense of purpose to a tired world.

Obama apparently has decided German Chancellor Angela Merkel offers the best hope of being the European leader with whom he can work in forging new alliances. His failure to include Great Britain and France in his itinerary has upset their leaders who feel slighted and ignored. However, Obama believes Germany must play a key role in providing greater support for the Afghanistan mess which will require additional troops in the coming years.

All “hopes of the world” eventually hit solid ground and encounter reality. Obama will discover there is little interest among German leaders in assuming an important role in Afghanistan. Most probably he eventually will discover the source of troops lies elsewhere in nations like France and the UK.

Growing Skepticism In Germany Over EU Future

The decision of Polish President Lech Kaczynski to refuse signing the Treaty of Lisbon agreement even though his own parliament has voted for it, typifies the new skepticism which is growing in many parts of Europe. The Polish president argues adding his signature is “pointless” in light of Ireland’s refusal to go along with the treaty. European leaders have been urging the other members to ratify the Lisbon Treaty and then find a way to get around the Irish “no” vote. The financial Times Deutschland, comments, “Encouraged by the Irish vote, euroskeptics are cropping up everywhere.” Th Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
notes: The methods of achieving European integration have bee successful for 50 years, but they have become worn out.

It increasingly appears European leaders are faced with the choice of changing methods or trying to change its citizens. Of course, there are many alternative ways to deal with the current impasse. One might be to reconstitute the European Union with those members who are willing to accept an organization that no longer adheres to every member agreeing for change and moves to a more sensible approach requiring a two-thirds or three-fourths vote for changes.

German Government Fears Terror Attack

Germany has among the largest Muslim society in Europe which has caused concern that among these millions a few terrorists will emerge to create terror within the nation. German authorities have uncovered evidence from the Islamic Jihad Union, a group that has been monitored for years, of possible upcoming attacks within Germany. An important member of the group is Eric B. who has been the object of an extensive search. He is seen in a video, which depicts a suicide bomber trained by the group, who blow himself up in Afghanistan and kills American soldiers. Eric B. also has close ties with the Sauerland Cell which has trained suicide bombers for action in Afghanistan.

No society can prevent suicide bombers from doing damage. Obviously, the best strategy is avoiding these incidents. Germany for years has not done enough to end prejudice in its country or to absorb young Muslims into high tech occupations or in positions where they can feel a sense of belonging and power. A preventive approach may well, in the end, prove more effective than only relying on police operations.

Who Is Listening To Your Phone Call?

Germany’s Deutsche Telekom is being charged with engaging in a program in which hundreds of phone calls by customers were monitored. Senior executives ordered staff to check the phone calls because Klaus Zumwinkel wanted to plug an information leak after he was charged with having channeled millions of eruos in unpaid taxes to a bank in another country. The company, which is partially owned by the German government, denied using bugging devices but admitted that it had tracked calls. The evidence of this action apparently was leaked to the press by a data company based in Berlin which was contracted to conduct the surveillance because Telekom manatgers were concerned about leaks of sensitive information to business jounalists. Apparently, the company was upset that after doing its job, no one got around to paying it for the work.

We live in times in which George Orwell’s famous story about Big Brother has moved from fiction to reality. Who knows who is listening in to conversations and who knows the reason for the surveillance. We must trust that Big Brother is only checking the bad guys, but in this case it turns out the bad guys were the good guys.

Chancellor Merekel To Seek Missile Shield Plan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking to offer a plan that entails creating a missile shield for Europe in order to offer protection against an attack by some unknown enemy. Her plan seeks protection against a nuclear attack and also calls for German armed forces to be free to engage in more extended military operations. Merkel wants to copy American ideas by establishing a National Security Coucil that would be located in the office of the Chancellor and obviously report to that office. This would result in greater power flowing into the office of the Chancellor than has previously been the norm. A Merkel policy paper that was examined by reporters for Der Spiegel argues that international terrorism is the greatest danger to Germany and its armed forces should be ready to handle internal problems created by terrorism erupting within its own borders.

Opposition parties regard Merkel’s ideas as seeking to direct power into the office of the chancellery and thus dilute power of parliament in areas of military concern. There is also fear the new plan would result in more extended and extensive military operations on the part of the German armed forces.

Gudo Westerwelle, leadr of the Free Democratic Paty said: “We are very alarmed bbecause we fear that the axis of our foreign policy is being shifted massively. What could be most dangerous is if this is perparing the way for regular deployment of the German military on domestic soil.”

For some reason, Chancellor Merkel actually believes Bush ideas on foreign policy are applicable to other parts of the world.

Germany’s Demographic Nightmare-Too Few Babies

Germany has continually witnessed a decline in its birth rate over the last half of the 20th century and current forecasts are the current 82 million German population will decline to about 69 milion by 2006. The current birthrate is 1.43 children per woman, slightly up form 1.33 the year before, but distant from the necessary 2.1 number that ensures maintenance and growth in population. An economic problem that will arise unless there is a significant rise in population is support for the social security system which will lack people paying in during the coming decades. Uusula der Leyen, Family Minister, believes an important aspect of dealing with the demographic crisis in persuading women to have more children.

Under new legislation, the government will pay the parent who remains home with the child up to 67% of their current income with a maximum of $2,810 per month for up to a year. Another facet of the new program is tripling the number of day care centers in order to assist women who must work. Many conservatives support paying women to remain at home but object to day care centers as encouraging women not to remain with the child.

Ironically, as Germans have fewer babies, German society needs more immigrants.

Germany And US Increasingly Diverge On Policy

A few weeks ago, American officials bluntly told the German government it was not doing enough to fight in Afghanistan and were just as bluntly told to mind their own business. James Goldgeier, who served in the Clinton administration told Der Spiegel: “I m amazed at how openly the current diffeerences between berlin and Washington are being aired. In Feburuary it was the German role in Afghanistan. Now, it’s about the issue of NATO expansion in which Germany quite openly orchestrated the resistance to Ukraine and Georgia. This is relatively unusual in advance of this sort of summit.” German opposition to the expansion stems from considering the political ramifications of such action. German leaders recognize the newly elected President Dimitry Medvedev should be accorded some breathing room and an opportunity to establish positive relations with the West before being forced to issue public opposition to the incorporation of the Ukraine and Georgia.

President Bush is enthralled with glowing speeches about the spread of democracy and lacks sensitive understanding of the need to walk lightly with a new president in Russia. Germany is also aware many Ukranians do not wish to becom part of NATO and Georgia has many internal problems. The German government prefers to watch and wait unlike th tpical Bush charge ahead without any long term policital thinking.

Ironically, George Bush is now the moderate in dealing with Russia while Senator McCain has become the headstrong radical. McCain has deliberately insulted Putin by saying things like seing only three letters in the eyes of Putin –K G B.