German Press Review: Unity Day Up Close | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 04.10.2004
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German Press Review: Unity Day Up Close

German newspapers on Monday addressed the 14th anniversary of the country’s national reunification and the speech made by Germany's president marking the event. Other papers took a look at Turkey’s EU bid.

Editorialists at the Berliner Zeitung agreed with the body of President Horst Köhler's speech, especially when he spoke of the importance of creating jobs. However, Köhler gave no new insight as to what needs to be done to improve the situation, the paper noted. The Berliner Zeitung made it quite clear that it holds the German government responsible for the difficulty of new job creation, with its overboard bureaucracy and laws controlling every little detail for businesses. This situation must change, the newspaper stressed.

The Neue Presse in Hanover began its editorial by comparing Köhler’s speech with the one where former U.S. President John F. Kennedy famously said "think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." In other words, Köhler's main message was less state, more work, the paper wrote. A welfare state can only work if the economy is strong and jobs are plenty, the daily wrote. As for the speech itself, the paper found it moving. The editorial expressed confidence that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder can achieve the necessary stability for Germany, and noted that the protest movement against the chancellor’s social and economic reforms is losing momentum.

President Köhler's speech was a call for politicians to better explain their decisions, the Dresdner Neuesten Nachrichten observed. The daily noted the president's endorsement of the government reforms, but said social reforms are only the first step toward saving the state from bankruptcy. It suggested that politicians should enforce what President Köhler called "radical reforms that will do away with red tape and
bureaucracy," and that these should start int he new Eastern states. The daily said Köhler would have fewer problems convincing the people in the East than in the Western states, whose leaders are procrastinators and not reformists.

Other German editorial writers commented on Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.

The business newspaper Handelsblatt joined the chorus of voices who are in favor of Turkish accession on the grounds that this would help stabilize the entire region. The region could otherwise create massive military, political and economic problems for decades to come, the paper warned. But Handelsblatt editorialists complained that this factor is being undersold in the fight for Turkey’s membership. Rather, the discussion is focussed on Turkey as a "bridge to Islam." The usage of the word ‘bridge’ is vague because Turkey is not particularly loved in the Middle East, the paper wrote. It warned that the only way for the region to be stabilized is for Turkey to become a paragon, an example showing that an Islamic state can join the West without losing its identity.

Another heavily debated question surrounding Turkey’s EU membership bid is whether Turkey is a part of Europe, the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung noted. Geographically, only a small part of it is, the daily wrote. The paper then went on to remind readeres that European Union is formed by ideals, not by the boundaries of a map.

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