Schroeder: 'Germanycan learn from US'

10th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

10 September 2004 , BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has broadly criticised anti-American cliches and insisted Germany could learn key lessons from the United States. "It's not unjustified to talk about an 'American myth' - but unfortunately it is accompanied by prejudice and distortions," said Schroeder in a speech marking the 10th anniversary of the 1994 pullout from Berlin of the Western Allies - the US, Britain and France. The chancellor, speaking at the German capital's American Academy think-tan

10 September 2004

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has broadly criticised anti-American cliches and insisted Germany could learn key lessons from the United States.

"It's not unjustified to talk about an 'American myth' - but unfortunately it is accompanied by prejudice and distortions," said Schroeder in a speech marking the 10th anniversary of the 1994 pullout from Berlin of the Western Allies - the US, Britain and France.

The chancellor, speaking at the German capital's American Academy think-tank, said while some saw the U.S. as a shining model, to others it was a threatening global player. Such one-sided views, he stressed, had little to do with reality.

Schroeder, who is pushing through controversial cutbacks of Germany's social welfare state, said in certain areas America was a model for Germany.

"We can indeed learn from each other in the domestic German reform process," said Schroeder who hastened to add that Germany could not take over the full American social model.

The Chancellor insists, for example, he does not want US-style hire-and-fire to replace Germany's tough laws on sacking employees.

"Where America is undoubtedly ahead of us is in a variety of non-material resources - namely a positive attitude, energy and the corresponding mentality," said Schroeder.

The Chancellor listed a series of American traits he said Germans should perhaps copy.

These, Schroeder said, include: confidence, self-trust, willingness to take risks, courage to face life, and calmness.

He also praised what he said was the general American culture of "encouragement" and "personal responsibility."

Schroeder called on the American Academy to keep sending out impulses aimed at Germany's "inherited and traditional mentalities and habits."

The chancellor made his remarks as the German Marshall Fund released an opinion poll showing the deterioration in US-European relations, first seen during the Iraq war, has hardened in the past year.

Europeans are skeptical of a strong US leadership role in the world and 58 percent of Europeans want a more independent approach for Europe on international security and 76 percent of Europeans disapprove of the current US foreign policy, the poll shows.

In Germany, the poll revealed 51 percent want Europe to take a more independent approach, while 31 percent want closer ties to the US and 16 percent want relations to remain as they are.

Interestingly, while 89 percent of Germans back Schroeder's decision not to take part in the Iraq war, the poll shows that 57 percent would support sending German troops to Iraq if the United Nations approved a multilateral force.

German-American ties plunged into their worst post-1945 crisis due to differences over the Iraq war but Schroeder and US President George W. Bush rebuilt relations during a series of meetings this year culminating at the G8 summit of industrial nations at Sea Island, Georgia.

Schroeder, in his speech, insisted that beefing up the United Nations would be one of the best ways to bolster transatlantic ties.

"Only then will we reach the transatlantic goals of freedom, democracy, human rights, free trade, shared prosperity and sustainable development for all peoples in the world," he said.

This, the German leader added, was a crucial part of the war on terrorism.

"We have to fight the roots of insecurity," said Schroeder who stressed that a comprehensive definition of security had to include social and material security as well as security for human rights, the environment, culture and identity.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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