Schroeder vows to work with newGerman president on reform

24th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2004 , BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed Monday to push ahead with economic reforms and pledged to work closely with conservative German president-elect Horst Koehler who expressed alarm at the weekend over the state of the economy. "There will be good, loyal and successful cooperation," said Schroeder whose own Social Democratic (SPD) candidate was defeated in Sunday's vote for the next German head of state. The chancellor offered to continue regular meetings with the president as he has

24 May 2004

BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed Monday to push ahead with economic reforms and pledged to work closely with conservative German president-elect Horst Koehler who expressed alarm at the weekend over the state of the economy.

"There will be good, loyal and successful cooperation," said Schroeder whose own Social Democratic (SPD) candidate was defeated in Sunday's vote for the next German head of state.

The chancellor offered to continue regular meetings with the president as he has done with outgoing SPD president Johannes Rau.

Schroeder told reporters he valued Koehler's international expertise from having headed the International Monetary Fund from 2000 to 2004.

In a victory speech on Sunday, Koehler called for swift reform of Germany's sickly economy. German GDP been in stagnation for the past three years and unemployment is almost 11 percent.

"I view fundamental reform of our nation as necessary and overdue," said Koehler, adding: "As an economist I'm concerned over the state of the German economy."

Germany's president is mainly ceremonial but has considerable moral influence and can influence the national political agenda.

Responding to these remarks, Schroeder said: "The reform process must be continued in Germany with all energy."

There would be no "going back" or "slowing down," said the Chancellor.

But he added that Koehler knew himself how difficult it was to forge ahead with major economic reform in Europe.

Schroeder said his biggest problems were: 1) that people backed reform in the abstract but support dissolved as soon as programmes were cut; and 2) that it took too long for reform benefits to be felt.

Other SPD leaders showed far less enthusiasm for Koehler than Schroeder.

The SPD premier of Schleswig-Holstein state, Heide Simonis, could barely contain her scorn over Koehler's remarks.

"He's not our economics minister!" declared Simonis in an ARD TV interview, adding that Koehler should have at least waited until his first hundred days in office were over before commenting on key policy issues.

Another SPD official, deputy parliamentary leader Michael Mueller, mocked Koehler's speech for not having addressed key questions.

"To be honest it was not nearly complex enough given the real policy choices being faced today," said Mueller.

Koehler is due to take office on 1 July.

DPA

Subject: German news

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