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Germany

Blair Warns of German "Victims' Culture"

British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Germany as a friend in an interview with a German tabloid Monday, but warned Germans not to foster a "victims' culture" since the Nazis started World War II.

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Partners and allies

Speaking to mass-market Bild, Blair acknowledged that Germans had every right to remember the suffering of their countrymen during and after the war.

60 Jahre Danach - Bildgalerie - London 10/20

Britain's Prime Minister Winston Churchill, center, joined the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, England, on VE-Day on May 8, 1945.

"It's appropriate that Germany remembers those that were displaced from (the country's) former eastern regions," he said. "But this doesn't mean that people should foster a victims' culture. Germany was responsible for the outbreak of World War II."

Blair added that the world must never forget the horrors that took place between 1939 and 1945, but said that former enemies had now become friends.

"Britain and Germany have played a leading role in the development of Europe as a continent of peace and prosperity," he said. "Scars may remain, but the wounds have healed."

Partners and allies

The British leader also said that he saw Germany as a partner and ally.

Fußball: Der Liverpooler Dietmar Hamann

Dietmar Hamann

"We cooperate in all areas of life," he said. "350,000 Britons in Britain work for German companies. Britain's booming economy remains one of Germany's largest markets for exports. Dietmar Hamann, a German soccer player, is a star at FC Liverpool, which has just made it to the Champions League final. A British conductor (Sir Simon Rattle) leads the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

"Thousands of Britons and Germans visit the partner's country each year," Blair continued. "Our soldiers stand shoulder to shoulder in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Our relations have never been better."

Beware complacency

Blair also said that he didn't believe a dictatorship like that of the Nazis could reoccur in Europe.

"But we must not get complacent," he said. "Yugoslavia during the 1990s proved that barbarian acts are still possible on our continent."

A pragmatic EU

Tony Blair in Brüssel

Blair after a meeting at the EU Summit in Brussels, Friday March 21, 2003

Talking about Europe's unification, Blair said that he supported a European Union that concentrated on the needs of its citizens but rejected integration for its own sake.

"We have to combine our resources where it makes sense -- fighting crime, establishing a common market, protecting the environment, fighting illegal immigration," he said.

But Blair added that nation states should have the last word in areas where they were most suited to make decisions.

"That's the case with fiscal and foreign policy," he said. "That's the European Union as laid out in the constitution treaty. It's a pragmatic, practical European Union, which looks after the needs of Europe's citizens."

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