Germany bent on further EU integration
After his "federalist" Berlin speech this summer, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer addressed the press on Tuesday in Brussels and continued to urge his European colleagues towards the deepening of the EU.
He called for the direct election of the European Commission's president and for the creation of a second chamber to the European Parliament to represent the national parliaments. The second proposal is obviously modelled on the German Bundesrat, where Germany's Länder take part in the national legislative process.
Deepening before widening
In Fischer's view, this type of strengthening of the supranational European institutions—known as "deepening" in EU jargon—is a precondition for the EU to get ready for enlargement, known as "widening." Fischer also repeated Chancellor Schröder's earlier remarks regarding the need for a new intergovernmental conference in 2004.
Fischer's statement must be seen in the context of the present lead-up to the crucial Nice Summit in early December, where the 15 members of the EU are to remove certain structural obstacles in the EU's architecture before enlargement to Central and Eastern Europe can take place.
Germany takes on Big Brother,
An unusually wide rift between otherwise close allies appeared to open this week when US government lawyers accused Germany, before the United Nations World Court in The Hague, of trying to "undermine the United States' right to exercise the death penalty."
The German government protested an infringement of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by the State of Arizona earlier this year. In this case, the State of Arizona was accused of failing to counsel two German citizens on their right to legal assistance from the German foreign service before they were executed.
Germany continued to challenge the Americans regarding this issue. Together with other European governments, they question the reality, in a number of cases, of proper legal counseling for prisoners on death-row. Furthermore, they bombard US state authorities regularly with protests against planned executions.
While the United States and Arizona authorities apologised to the German government for this breach of international law, they denounced a German proposal in the World Court for further sanctions against the USA, saying the motivations for this lay in the wish to challenge the death penalty in and of itself and to paint the USA black.
There can be but little doubt that the American lawyers have got it right. The Europeans, organised by the EU and the Council of Europe (which, among other things, protects human rights), have come to regard the Americans' endorsement of the death penalty as the main cultural-political divide within the trans-Atlantic "strategic partnership." Tensions are likely to grow further in the future, since the EU—possibly with the exception of Britain—is trying to build itself up in the 21st century as a "humanitarian" great power, in contrast to the USA.
Germany takes on Big Brother,
The Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler (VDW- Association of German Scientists) is at the forefront of global policy for continued disarmament. The association has taken the lead in an initiative called "Diplomatie zuerst!" ("Diplomacy first!") aimed at creating opposition among European leaders for US plans for a unilateral strategic defence—notably the National Missile Defence.
The new movement's spokesman is Egon Bahr, elder statesman and chief architect of German Ostpolitik and détente under late Chancellor Willy Brandt. During the Gorbachev-Reagan era the United States was the bottom—line of the big arms cuts, and he charges the United States with having departed from this idea of multilateral security.
Apart from jeopardising security in the West, the USA is accused of acting as a bad example for the many would-be nuclear powers of the globe and effectively buttressing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The activists call on European governments to make a counter-point to the American conduct by urging diplomatic approaches even vis-à-vis "rogue states."
German housewives take on skinheads
The trial against a group of skinheads before a court in Essen, North-Rhine Westfalia, has brought examples of courage to light in the midst of public indifference towards the situation of foreigners in Germany.
In this case, right-wing youths had been harassing and chasing a Congolese-born student and his Turkish friend on a tram in Essen. While the African student was able to escape, the young Turk continued to be attacked by the skinheads near a bus station.
Of all the bystanders, he was helped by two sisters, both housewives, of reportedly "heavy constitution" who sheltered him from the assailants with their very bodies. They were finally assisted by a taxi-driver who got a grip on the group's leader—apparently without too much difficulty.
Jens Boysen, 17 November
- Archive of German news reviews
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page
ZDF Online News (Public German TV) Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Today's updated headlines from Germany