Merkel rebuts criticism from former mentor Helmut Kohl
German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday hit back at criticism from within her own party, this time from Helmut Kohl the country's longest serving leader and her erstwhile political mentor.
Former Chancellor Kohl, 81, who oversaw Germany's reunification, has warned that Germany is "no longer a reliable force, internally or externally" and lacks "a compass" in matters of foreign policy.
"We have to return urgently to our old dependability. We have to make clear to others what we stand for, where we are headed," the former leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) warned in the latest edition of Internationale Politik, a foreign policy journal.
Without naming Merkel or her foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, Kohl specifically took the government to task over its decision to abstain five months ago when the United Nations Security Council voted for intervention in Libya.
Merkel told Thursday's edition of the Sueddeutsche Zeitung that while Kohl's past achievements should be honoured "every era has its own specific challenges."
"The Christian-liberal government is working alongside our partners in Europe and the world to master the challenges of our time," she added, referring to her centre-right coalition.
Westerwelle late Wednesday underscored the need to nurture old alliances while seeking new partners in a fast-changing world.
"In the 21st century it is also necessary to seriously take account of new power centres in the world and to foster new strategic partnerships", including in Asia, Latin America and Africa, Westerwelle told ZDF public television.
The latest outburst from Kohl, who led Germany from 1982 to 1998, comes amid growing criticism of Merkel from within her own party ranks over her reticence during the eurozone crisis and what they call her weak political leadership.
© 2011 AFP