Counter-offensive against neo-Nazism
Federal Minister of the Interior Otto Schily has prohibited the right-wing extremist organisation "Blood and Honour Division of Deutschland," the German branch of an international organisation of British origin, which is active in staging events promoting neo-Nazi music and materials. The ban pertains as well to the youth branch, "White Youth." Schily called on his European colleagues to follow his example in their respective countries.
This step seems to be the first attempt to hit at the support groups of the neo-Nazi scene, which enjoy less legal protection than right-wing parties, such as the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). Outlawing the NDP, which is alleged to be the most important party of the German extreme right, has been discussed for several weeks now, with the Federal and Länder governments collecting materials to bring the case before the Federal Constitutional Court.
In a similar vein, the Länder diets of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt have called for "public proscription" of right-wing extremism, beyond mere juridical measures. They stated that it is crucial in stemming the neo-Nazi tide to make it clear that the general public does not condone the actions of extremist thugs. At the same time, the deputies warned against regarding the problem as merely an East German one, or to plainly equate the East German youth with extremism.
Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has promised to lend more support to the police in their fight against right-wing extremists.
The dark side of unity
According to reports issued by the renowned dailies Tagesspiegel (Berlin) and Frankfurter Rundschau, the number of victims of extremist attacks since re-unification in 1990 is considerably higher than is officially acknowledged. There have not been 26 victims of extremist aggression in the last decade, as the Federal Ministry of the Interior says; rather, there have been 93 victims.
The newspapers commissioned a new screening of reported cases of homicide, in order investigate the stated motives and circumstances of specific cases. Allegedly, in many cases, local courts or other authorities had failed to label incidents as having been motivated by right-wing extremism, in order not to tarnish the image of their municipality. The Ministry of the Interior would not comment on the reports, but announced that it would verify the method used for the independent study.
A promised land?
The much-criticised "Green Card" scheme launched by the federal government earler this year to attract foreign experts to Germany's the IT industry is slowly getting off the ground. As yet, about 1600 persons have applied for the five-year work-plus-residence permit. Of these, approximately 300 were already residing in Germany, while about 1300 came from abroad. Most applicants are located in the Middle East, and other Asian countries, but many have also applied from Central and Eastern Europe. Here, the greatest interest has come from Romania.
Back to centre stage
In his speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Friday, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer outlined his thoughts on a comprehensive peace policy for the future. In this context, he underscored Germany’s readiness to take on more responsibility. This should start with Germany assuming a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Earlier this week, Fischer’s British colleague, Robin Cook, proposed that the Security Council be enlarged from five to ten permanent members, to include Germany and Japan. Such a step would be, some years after the abolishing of the "enemy clauses" in the UN Charter of 1945, the UN's final farewell to the post-World War II order and the rehabilitation of the former Axis powers.
Jens Boysen, 15 September 2000
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