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Greenland PR Gag?

Article based on news reports (ncy)
August 17, 2007

Germany's opposition parties attacked Chancellor Angela Merkel over her visit to Greenland. They said the trip was a PR gag that took the place of real action against climate change.

Merkel with her environment minister, Denmark's premier, and the Danish enivornment minister in Greenland
Just a PR stunt?Image: AP

Chancellor Merkel wraps up her two-day visit to Greenland on Friday with a helicopter trip around the island. Accompanied by her Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, a member of the Social Democratic Party, and the premiers of Greenland and Denmark on Thursday, she viewed Ilulissat fjord, where the effects of global warming are particularly visible.

And then she defended herself.

"Getting an idea of things on location never hurt," she said at a press conference. Only then could one win over people to take action with "elan and energy" against the effects of climate change.

Merkel was responding to criticism from top opposition politicians, who accused her of using the trip as a PR gag instead of pursuing policies to minimize Germany's negative impact on the climate.

"Historical mistake"

"The Merkel/Gabriel tour group won't find what it desperately needs in Greenland's melting ice: the political decisiveness to take responsible action against climate change," said Green party chief Reinhard Bütikofer.

He said instead of staging such a trip, Merkel needed to provide "solid political craft to overcome the impediments to a climate policy without ifs and buts in the only place where that can happen: at home."

Free-market liberal FDP leader Guido Westerwelle was also harsh.

Merkel and Danish Premier Rasmussen on a boat in Iluissat fjord
Whether symbolic or not, the backdrop was certainly impressiveImage: AP

"It's a historical mistake to restrict environment policy to symbolism," he said, calling into question Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power by 2021.

Climate remains focus

"If Mrs. Merkel believes she has to go to Greenland to inform herself about the effects of climate change, she should do that. Traveling is educational," said the Left party's Gesine Lötzsch."

Merkel said Germany would continue to focus on climate protection during the remainder of its presidency of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial nations, which ends when Japan takes over in January.

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