Merkel Sticks Up for Embattled German Businesses | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 11.06.2008
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Merkel Sticks Up for Embattled German Businesses

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has vowed to stand by German business, despite the scandals currently engulfing the likes of telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom and the engineering concern Siemens.

The Telekom logo is reflected at the headquarters in Bonn

Deutsche Telekom is one of the German businesses which has been under a cloud of late

In an interview with the Financial Times, Merkel stressed the financial benefits that such firms bring to the country and warned against criticizing business across the board.

With Germany celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the introduction of its social-market economy and the D-Mark this June, Merkel was also at pains to emphasize that these events did not undermine the legitimacy of the existing order.

"This is a heavy burden because it shakes confidence in our institutions -- and companies like Telekom and Siemens are almost institutions in Germany. Such isolated cases must be thoroughly and decisively investigated," Merkel told the FT. "But our criticism should not be understood as a blanket condemnation of business," she added.

"These provide hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country. My patriotic sensitivity tells me I must stand by these companies in tough times. We must lead them onto the path of virtue, no question, but one should not condemn them en masse."

One allegation after another

German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the European Central Bank

Defender of the business faith: Angela Merkel

Just under two weeks ago, Deutsche Telekom CEO called in prosecutors to investigate allegations that the company had engaged a data-mining firm to track thousands of calls between top executives and journalists. Snooping accusations have subsequently been levelled in the media against a number of other firms, such as Lufthansa and Deutsche Bahn.

This comes after investigations into bribery at Siemens and corruption at Volkswagen. Several former bosses at Europe's biggest carmaker have been prosecuted after it emerged in 2005 that a slush fund was set up to pay for holidays and prostitutes.

These scandals and allegations of tax evasion by Germany's high earners earlier this year have stirred up widespread resentment towards the country's business elite.

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