Israeli envoy: German democracy still faces test

27th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 January 2005, BERLIN - Israel's ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, believes that German democracy has still not stood a real test of declining economic strength. "The democratic test is still ahead for the Germans," said Stein in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit. Stein noted the Federal Republic of Germany, which was founded in 1949, had always been linked with a growing economy and prosperity. "But what happens if prosperity starts to crumble? Will democracy also fall? Or will it stand up to

27 January 2005

BERLIN - Israel's ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, believes that German democracy has still not stood a real test of declining economic strength.

"The democratic test is still ahead for the Germans," said Stein in an interview with the newspaper Die Zeit.

Stein noted the Federal Republic of Germany, which was founded in 1949, had always been linked with a growing economy and prosperity.

"But what happens if prosperity starts to crumble? Will democracy also fall? Or will it stand up to all challenges? This question has not yet been answered," he said.

Germany's economics ministry on Wednesday trimmed growth projections for this year to 1.6 percent, down from 1.7 percent in 2004 which came after three years of stagnation.

Unemployment in Germany is almost 11 percent but over 20 percent in parts of the hard-hit former communist eastern part of the country. Economists say that GDP growth of at least 2 percent is needed to cut the jobless rate.

Stein expressed concern over an incident in eastern Saxony state last week where members of a far-right party used a parliamentary debate to compare the World War II bombing of Dresden to the Holocaust and also walked out of a commemoration ceremony for Nazi victims.

He noted that this had been done by "young, right-wing extremists - not by old Nazis".

Ambassador Stein called on Germany's mainstream political parties set aside differences and take joint action against the far-right.

He also called for a major debate on neo-Nazis and extremists in the Germany's Bundestag, the federal parliament.

Far-right parties won seats in both Saxony and eastern Brandenburg state last September after running campaigns seeking to whip up anti- foreigner sentiment and anger over government social welfare cuts.

"The big parties in Germany must ask themselves if they are doing enough so that the economic losers remain democrats in their hearts despite disappointments," he concluded.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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