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Banning the NPD—first step taken
At a special meeting on Thursday 26 October in Düsseldorf (capital of North-Rhine Westfalia), the Federal and Länder (regional) ministers of the interior agreed on the preparation of an appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court for the prohibition of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD). The ministers of Hessen and the Saarland abstained.
Federal Interior Minister Otto Schily is now hoping for a quick decision on the part of the two chambers of parliament, the Bundestag (national assembly) and Bundesrat (representation of the regions). Some conservative governments may withhold their support.
However, the government would like a unified vote, because lack of unity in the Bundesrat could damage the full effect of this political statement, leaving the impression that different political standards co-exist in the Federal structure. Furthermore, too much has already been publicly invested by the government in this "crusade" against the NPD that a withdrawal of the legislation would be just as problematic in moral terms.
Resolution over Danzig executions 1939
The Cologne regional court has accepted an agreement between Germany and the relatives of 38 Polish post office workers. These workers were executed in September 1939 after defending the post office in Danzig (today Gdansk) against the German Wehrmacht. Their widows will receive DEM (German Mark) 10,000 (USD 4300) each, and their children DEM 5000 (USD 2150) each.
The officials of the post office defended the building after 1 September 1939, when German forces occupied the Free City of Danzig. For many years German lawyers denied claims for compensation made by relatives, on the grounds that the officials acted as "non-combatant partisans" who could be executed under martial law. In 1996, the regional court at Lübeck recognised retroactively their right to defend the premises of the post office as de jure Polish territory. This rendered the death sentences illegal, entitling the relatives to compensation.
Schröder welcomes Croatian President
On Thursday, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder received Croatian President Stipe Mesić in his home city of Hanover (Lower Saxony). Schröder gave Mesić political support for the reform process in Croatia. He also publicly encouraged German business to invest more in Croatia.
This visit to Germany is an important step for Mesić on the road to the reintegration of Croatia into Europe after the auto-isolation of the Tuđman years. Croatia is not presently a candidate for EU membership.
Although Croatia would like to join the EU, Croatians are having a hard time figuring out the EU policy of admission vis-à-vis a Croatia that sinned under its late autocrat. Croatians should, however, be encouraged by the sudden turnaround in EU attitudes with regards to Croatia's fellow former deviator from democracy, Yugoslavia.
Croatia is eager to "de-balkanise," as Slovenia has done, for the EU. However, for all of Tuđman's efforts in emulating Milošević, it was always expected that Zagreb would "return home" in the long run.
Germany might be a good entry-point for this "return" of Croatia to Europe. German-Croatian relations have always been close, and not only under the fascist regimes during the Second World War. Since the big Yugoslav work migrations to the EC in the 1970s, Croatians have represented an important group in Germany. In return, millions of Germans spend (barring the period between 1991 and 1995) their summer holidays (and a nice chunk of their foreign trade surplus) at the Dalmatian coast.
With the Stability Pact making its first steps, German attention will be redrawn to the iridescent southeast of the continent. Though Croatia will have to compete with Germany's immediate neighbours, it is likely that Germans will begin to invest again in Croatia replacing it securely in Mitteleuropa.
And in other news...
- The latest Eurobarometer, published on Thursday, shows that only the Hungarians are acceptable to Germans (and Austrians alike) as fellow-members in the EU at this stage. East Germans were on the whole more positive about enlargement than their Western counterparts.
Jens Boysen, 27 October 2000
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