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Europe

German Press Review: A Debate Long Overdue

German editorials on Wednesday commented on the debate about rebuilding eastern Germany as well as unemployment figures in the country and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s 60th birthday.

A study commissioned by the German government says that attempts to rebuild former East Germany with financial transfers have failed. But the Märkische Oderzeitung in Frankfurt/Oder noted that this information comes as no surprise. The only surprise is the fact that this news is just now coming to a debate, it wrote and went on to say that the findings of the study are years old. What is now needed is a new concept which would be given as much attention and importance as the current social reforms taking place in Germany. But the debate will just end up being a storm in a teacup, with nothing changing, the daily concluded.

Munich’s TZ wrote that blossoming landscapes were once promised, and there’s no doubt that when you drive through the east, you see many new structures which went up at lightning rod speed. There are also intact roads and restored castles. But as you keep going, you also see many empty buildings, many bankrupt companies and many unemployed people who feel dispensable, the paper continued. It added that the Deutschmark came like a warm rain over East Germany but was then splashed about with too much anticipation and not much thought. The debate on how to allocate funds more carefully in the east is not only justified, it’s long overdue, wrote the daily. Companies can’t afford to throw their money around anymore.

Commenting on Germany's unemployment figures, the Stuttgarter Nachrichten thought that the labour market in Germany seems to be dictated by the laws of nature. Month to month unemployment figures get dimmer and dimmer. When they seem to get better, it’s because of the weather, the daily wrote: A major factor in Germany’s economic performance last month was the mild March sun. But on a more serious note, those who want to get an idea of the job market need to look not only at the number of unemployed but also at the number of jobs available, the paper noted. The argument that unemployment is rising because more and more people want a job does not stand up to the reality, it added. Economics minister Wolfgang Clement is right in encouraging more investment and growth but he must play his part as well, the paper concluded.

Finally Wednesday is German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s 60 birthday. The Coburger Tagblatt wrote that when a German politician turns 60, he’s not yet worn-out -- just experienced. But with Schroeder it’s different, according to the paper: The job as chancellor is a killer, especially for someone who doesn’t have the demeanor of his predecessor, Helmut Kohl. Schröder possess the ability to keep trouble at bay, but with the way he governs he won’t surpass Kohl’s 16 years in power, commented the daily. Perhaps Schröder doesn’t want to, due to the quality of life that goes along with that job, it added. But finally it argued that Schröder’s eventual absence will push the Social Democrats into a gaping hole, since strong men like him just don’t grow on trees.