Ex-chancellor praises Bush, criticizes Merkel

23rd October 2006, Comments 0 comments

23 October 2006, Berlin (dpa) - German former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that US President George W Bush left a positive impression on him despite political differences that soured relations between their two countries. "There were some very pleasant meetings with the American president despite our diverging views - Bush is a thoroughly engaging and open discussion partner," Schroeder said in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag. Schroeder, who served as chancellor from 1998-2005, was a s

23 October 2006

Berlin (dpa) - German former chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that US President George W Bush left a positive impression on him despite political differences that soured relations between their two countries.

"There were some very pleasant meetings with the American president despite our diverging views - Bush is a thoroughly engaging and open discussion partner," Schroeder said in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Schroeder, who served as chancellor from 1998-2005, was a strong opponent of the US-led war on Iraq and refused to provide military assistance in the venture.

The war and Bush's use of prayer in his approach to the conflict are discussed by Schroeder in his forthcoming memoirs entitled Decisions, which are due to be published in Germany on Thursday.

"If a person adopts a political policy based on what he gleans from his prayers, in other words a personal talk with God, it can lead to difficulties in a democracy," Schroeder told the newspaper.

The Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century led to a separation of church and state powers - "from political action based on individual beliefs," he said.

"But this problem is not restricted to Bush and the US," said the former chancellor, whose stance against the Iraq war caused friction with Washington because he used the issue in his 2002 re-election campaign.

Relations between the two countries improved after Schroeder's election defeat last year, which led to Chancellor Angela Merkel taking over as head of government.

Schroeder accused Merkel of displaying weak leadership and making "basic errors" since she took charge of a grand coalition with the ex-chancellor's Social Democrats.

"There's a world of difference from being in the opposition and explaining how things should be done to actually running the world's third biggest economic power, adopting foreign policy positions and carrying out far-reaching domestic reforms," he said.

Schroeder said Merkel needed a firmer hand to deal with the political infighting that has dogged the coalition and her own Christian Democrat/Christian Social Union (CSU) alliance.

A CSU spokesman on Sunday accused Schroeder of "putting the boot in."

"It's a cheap way of trying to cash in by someone who has not been able to digest his loss to Angela Merkel and his rejection by his own political party," the spokesman said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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