Germany's head of state has addressed the upper house Bundesrat, making him the first president ever to do so. He praised German federalism, but was critical of communication issues that have affected the refugee crisis.
President Joachim Gauck became the first German head of state to address the country's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, on Friday. He took the occasion to praise the success of federalism, as the Bundesrat represents Germany's 16 federal states at the national level.
Gauck came to mark the 25th anniversary of the Bundesrat since German reunification, and commended the "impressive" work of the chamber to unite what are sometimes called the "old states" from former West Germany and the "new states" from the former East.
"The Bundesrat has left its mark on our political culture," the president said, adding that it represented "values that have done our country good."
Reminding the assembly that neither the Nazis nor communist East Germany had any semblance of federalism, Gauck declared that "both dictatorships were well aware what federalism stands for: division of power, reciprocal and balanced power, and friendly competition for the best ideas."
Gauck slams lack of cooperation over refugees
Not all of his words were complimentary, however. President Gauck criticized the lack of communication between the states, cities, and federal government for exacerbating the challenges of the country's refugee crisis.
"I cannot believe" that a technologically advanced country like Germany was having such difficulties, he said, referring to the appearance of unpreparedness on the part of government offices as the country expects to receive 1 million asylum applications by the end of the year.
He called on all levels of government to establish better networks through every level to help both the country cope and the refugees get the services they need.
es/msh (AFP, dpa, KNA)