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Germany

German President Urges Reforms With a More Humanitarian Face

German President Johannes Rau has pleaded for a more humanitarian touch to the ongoing reform debate in Germany in his last Christmas address to the nation before he retires. In a copy of the speech published in advance, the president stressed that social and tax reforms were necessary, but at the same time warned that economic cost-cutting arguments shouldn’t always be applied to core societal responsibilities such as education and health. "We have to watch out that our entire social life in all aspects isn’t increasingly influenced by principles of economy and efficiency," he added. Rau underlined that schools and universities weren’t corporations and that societies must also be operated on principles of solidarity, involvement and dedication. Still, Rau praised both the government and the opposition for managing to put aside their months-long battle over labor and social reforms.