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Greens want wealth tax

1 December 2003

DRESDEN – Germany’s Green Party ended its national congress Sunday by agreeing to a it list of candidates for the European parliament elections in 2004 and calling for the reintroduction of a wealth tax in the nation.

The three-day congress also backed the Green leadership’s stance on social welfare reforms which are being undertaken together with the Social Democrats at the national level.

On foreign policy issues, the Greens expressed support for the Geneva initiative to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for keeping the door open to Turkish membership in the European Union.

The party called for a reinstatement of the wealth tax which was abolished by the former conservative government in Berlin in 1997, but they made it clear that the tax should apply to wealthy persons and not to companies.

Greens co-chairman Reinhard Buetikofer said he was pleased by the social reform debate and the backing which the rank and file gave to the party’s stance vis-a-vis the SPD.

“Justice and reforms belong together and should not be played against each other,” he told Deutsche Presse Agentur dpa. He said the debate over tax policy would not be reduced to simply the wealth tax issue.

The congress experienced a tense moment on Saturday when it posted a list of 25 candidates for the 13 June 2004 European parliament elections.

After the top two spots went to Rebecca Harms, a strong opponent of nuclear power and to Franco-German politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit, party co-leader Angelika Beer lost out to two other candidates and had to settle for the fifth spot.

But that spot on the list also virtually assured Beer a seat in the Strasbourg parliament, with the Greens expecting to gain between 10 and 12 seats.

In a comeback, Turkish-German politician Cem Ozdemir gained sixth spot on the Greens list. Ozdemir stepped down from his parliamentary seat in the summer of 2002 amid a scandal over the misuse of airline bonus miles.

The issue of Turkey’s prospects for EU membership was also a major question at the congress.

The Greens expressed their “solidarity and support” after the terror bomb attacks in Istanbul and emphasized they would hold out the prospect of Turkey’s gaining EU membership in the future. The party criticized the conservative opposition for opposing Turkey’s entry.

Subject: German news