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Germany

In Christmas Message, German President Backs Finance Reforms

In a Christmas message Wednesday, German President Horst Koehler has backed calls for a better world financial system where capitalism "serves everybody and nobody has to feel oppressed by it."

Koehler during his Christmas message

The economy was the topic of German President Koehler's Christmas address from his official Berlin residence, Schloss Bellevue

Berlin has been pushing for reforms which would require regulators in every nation to crack down on risky investment schemes.

Koehler, who is a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said the worldwide financial and economic crisis could be overcome, but "we'll have to work hard at it."

"An incredible amount of money has been lost. Many people are worried about their savings. Many worry whether their jobs are safe," he said. His address was being broadcast on public television Thursday. The text was released a day earlier.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is to make a similar television address at New Year.

Praise for Berlin's Response to Crisis

Koehler, whose ceremonial role requires him to take a bipartisan stance, praised the response of Merkel's government to the recession.

German stock exchange

Kohler said cool heads have prevailed in Germany during the financial crisis

"Our country, our citizens and our government responded wisely and with level heads," he said.

Merkel has been criticized internationally for holding back from tax cuts and state handouts. She has instead guaranteed savings and interbank lending and is coaxing big corporations to guarantee jobs.

Koehler said there was an opportunity amid the crisis.

"It's an opportunity for greater cooperation among nations, an opportunity for a better economic and financial order, where capital serves everybody and nobody has to feel oppressed by it," he said.

Koehler appealed to executives to respect the common good.

"We need integrity, modesty and judgement. Credibility will restore trust," he said.

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