Former German Chancellor Lashes Out at European Politicians | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.12.2003
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Former German Chancellor Lashes Out at European Politicians

Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who turned 85 on Tuesday, has accused European politicians of dilettantism. In an interview with the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the former Social Democrat and fifth Chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982, said leading European politicians had botched up the EU’s upcoming enlargement process. "We’re dealing with a combination of foreign ministers and heads of state," Schmidt said. "Many of them are great, experienced tacticians and self-important people in domestic politics, but just mere dilettantes when it comes to European integration," he added. Schmidt also criticized the EU’s expansion to 25 members next year, when 10 new mainly former communist countries join in May. He said politicians should have dealt with expansion one step at a time, instead of rushing ahead with incorporating so many new members all at once. Schmidt also criticized Germans for complaining too much in the face of an economic downturn and the planned reform of the social welfare system. "We have the most number of holidays, the shortest working hours, and the longest vacations," Schmidt said in a television interview, adding the Germans needed to quit whining.