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Germany

German President Slams Country's Elites

German President Johannes Rau sharply criticized Germany's elite in politics and industry in his so-called "Berlin speech" on Tuesday. A few people, who bore important economic and public responsibility, were "unashamedly lining their own pockets," Rau said in the speech held in his formal office, the Bellevue palace in Berlin. "Egoism, greed and a demanding mentality among parts of the so-called elite weaken trust in the institutions, when their representatives apparently lose all standards," Rau said. At the same time the president slammed Germans' tendency to gripe. "I don't know any country, in which those in positions of power speak so negatively about their own country with so much relish as is the case in Germany," he said. The tradition of the annual "Berlin speech" was begun by Rau's predecessor Roman Herzog and is meant to provide thought-provoking impulses to important public debates.