Engineering civil society
The Federal Government has earmarked DEM 560 million (EUR 280 million) for a large-scale campaign to foster public awareness in Germany vis-á-vis foreigners. In this way, the government hopes to deprive right-wing extremists of the support inherent in the silent condoning on the part of many "decent citizens" during the recently reported acts of violence against foreigners.
Under the specific "Soziale Stadt" (Social City) programme the government will grant financial support to local authorities, especially in large cities, where social problems have intensified and youth violence on the part of Germans, and others, is rife.
The Axis turned around
During their annual two-day meeting in Berlin, Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and his Italian counterpart, Prime Minister Giuliano Amato, pledged to unite their countries' efforts in fighting right-wing extremism. While in Germany the problem has been visible for quite some time now, Italian politicians have only recently become aware of similar incidents in their own country. This week, a teacher of Jewish descent was attacked by youths in the northern Italian city of Verona. From 1936 to 1943, Germany and Italy formed the so-called Berlin-Rome Axis as the hub for European fascist movements.
More money for refugees
This week, German government officials dropped former reservations against the establishment of a new EU fund of EUR 216 million for the support of refugees. The German hesitation stemmed from the unsolved question of equal burden sharing. All expenses managed under EU guidance, that is, under supervision of the Commission, tend to reflect the general share of the common EC budget, in which Germany is always the largest net contributor. In this new fund, the other EU countries pledged to match German payments in relation to their economic performance. Since Germany's recent acceptance of the new fund, only Spain and Austria continue to delay the adoption of the law.
Jens Boysen, 23 September 2000
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