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Germany

German Press Review: Reviving German-American relations and reforming the health care system

Germany’s decision to support the U.S. resolution on Iraq and plans for reforming the national health care system are the main topics of discussion in the country’s papers.

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Germany’s Die Welt looks at the new U.S. resolution on lifting sanctions against Iraq. The paper writes that in contrast to what its worst critics are saying, the U.S. is not some autistic hyperpower with the concomitant hubris. Its willingness to work for a new UN resolution shows that Washington is not interested in ruling the world alone. A new resolution also means that the U.S. cannot shirk its responsibility, and the United Nations will be involved in the process.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung applauds the German decision to support the new Iraq resolution. "From Berlin, there came a sign of good will," the paper writes and suggests that there was "a hint" of Germany distancing itself from the axis with France and Russia. "It doesn’t only have to do with protecting face," the editorial explains. "It’s more than just about setting things right again diplomatically. The goal is, very pragmatically, the start of sensible relationships between the countries cooperating in Iraq," concludes the paper.

The Berliner Tageszeitung, agrees and urges the German government to adopt a new strategy. "Germany needs America much more than the other way around," the Berlin paper states. "The German economy and Europe can only go forward if the trenches across the Atlantic can be bridged." The paper stresses that the German government has to stop its "dogmatism" and finally "represent German interests and not anti-American ideologies."

On the domestic front, the government’s plans for healing the crippled health care system topped the pages of the country’s daily papers.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten writes that doctors are fueling their critics in opposing the reform plans. "It’s impossible that doctors and ministers will agree on a common reform plan," comments the journal. "The doctors benefit from a system that gives them too many incentives. If they were willing to concede some of these incentives, then some savings in the health sector may be achieved. And, their critics wouldn’t be going around with a smile."

Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel had sharp words for both Health Minister Ulla Schmidt and the medical profession. The paper criticizes the minister for worrying too much about the highest levels of society, and quotes her telling a convention of doctors that she could not make all of them millionaires, to which the head of the country’s medical association responded, "We don’t want to be millionaires." The paper then provokes its readers by asking if the doctors could be believed, or whether "we should allow ourselves the sober insight that in the highest echelons things get discussed in strange ways."

The Münchner Zeitung also criticizes Minister Schmidt’s proposed health care reform plans. "It’s a system in which not money but points are earned – points whose worth is determined by obscure bureaucrats. Because of mistrust of patients, costs will go up further, instead of going down. Even more regimen – exactly the wrong prescription," the Munich paper points out.