Category Archives: Maria Wokurka

Middle Eastern violence in education – A German perspective

Haifa University

The German media is not overloaded with news, information and facts concerning violent attacks on educational institutions in the Middle East. The most recent articles in German newspapers are from 2013 and deal mainly with the Syrian crisis. Within the topic of Syria the media actually reports on attacks on universities.

The online newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine said in one of their reports: “Dead people after attack at university of Damascus”. This aims to inform that the Syrian conflict reached the capital Damascus long ago. After pointing out the number of dead students, 15 in total, the article blames the Arab League, which supposedly encourages any possible confrontation within the country. Two thirds of the article reports on international relations between Syria and countries such as Russia, which criticised the actions of the Arab League, and Turkey that deports refugees after riots. Conclusively the actual topic referring to the attack on Damascus’ university is embedded in the general Syrian crisis and, perhaps, would not have been reported without a powerful event such as the on-going crisis and the revolution.

Further research about the attacks on educational institutions in the Middle East lead away from articles to websites such as Human Rights Watch. The announcements on this website in November 2013 focus on stopping the military use of schools in conflict areas. The announcement by the non-governmental organisation published a video on this topic in six different languages. The video shows in what way children are seriously affected by the military use of their schools. The message on the homepage elaborates that the occupants turn the schools into prisons, training camps and depots for weapons. The video and announcement was published on the International Day of Children Rights.

A small poll among some German students who spent considerable time in one or more Middle Eastern countries say that the topic in Germany is under-represented. One of them is Alex, a German student in political science, who has been to the Middle East three times already. Two times in Israel for a student exchange in 2007 and 2008, the third time Alex stayed for half a year to study in Israel’s city Haifa in 2012/2013. During his third stay he also visited parts of Egypt and Jordan. Friends told him about the rocket attacks in 2006. “The university in Haifa lies on a 470 metre high hill and on not cloudy days you can actually see the Lebanon. As I was told you could recognise the rockets very early when you had been round the university round this time”, Alex says. These rockets did not reach the university but in the past it has been evacuated and the lecture program has been stopped. While the situation is almost ‘normal’ for the Israeli students most of the foreign students are face a scary situation and many of them return to their home countries. There is no university in Israel where you are safe in terms of rocket attacks.

During Alex’ semester abroad the operation “Pillar of Defence” took place. In November 2012 the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a campaign going against terror targets in Gaza. It was claimed the IDF were responding to increased rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The intention was to destroy any terror organisations in the Gaza Strip, the second goal was to defend the Israeli civilians who were mainly living under fire. Alex tells that he and others realised people have been more tense during this time as numerous people thought another invasion of the Gaza strip was imminent. “During this time several Israeli students have been drawn in by the military, which established a circle around the Gaza strip. The people were afraid of attacks and after a bus attack in Tel Aviv the fears proved to be true. For the very first time, Hamas held rockets of a range that were able to reach Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Therefore the universities of these two cities sounded the highest alarm.”

Several people started to demonstrate for the attacks of  Hamas. “Even at my university”, Alex remembers. “It is embarrassing that also German were among the objectors.” Only one day later counter demonstrations took place which were meant to support the civilians of the South and to express solidarity.

Alex says that the Palestinians tend to build and place their rocket positions in Gaza in civil institutions, often in educational institutions such as schools. By these actions they intend to protect themselves from attacks by the Israeli military. “Mostly the people are safe inside schools or universities as the IDF is keen to avoid civilian victims.”

However, the topic only attracts a small amount of attention. In Alex’s opinion the focus is more on the “military-strategic events than the conflict itself and how the population deals with the attacks”.

The above mentioned articles in German media are not the sole ones but they give an insight to the attitude within the media. The reports, news and information concerning attacks aimed at educational institutions in the Middle East remain under-reported and are often only covered as part of a wider crisis.

By Maria Wokurka

Picture credit: Michael Privorotsky

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Immigrants, Mafia and Putin: German Fast News

Ukraine

Riots in Eastern Ukraine spark concerns in Germany

The East Ukrainian city Donetsk: Pro-Russian demonstrators proclaim the “Sovereign People’s Republic”. According to the online magazine Spiegel the demonstrators intend to declare independence from the government of Kiev. They also demanded a referendum and called for Russian assistance.

Berlin is concerned by the recent actions of Moscow. The Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a pull-out away from the Ukrainian borders. The German government spokesman, Steffen Seibert says: “This has obviously not happened yet. One can be disappointed, one must be disappointed.” Meanwhile Chancellor Angela Merkel does not doubt the promise of Putin.

The Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for caution while talking about the riots in the Eastern part of Ukraine: “So far we cannot see a complete change of the situation. But I am not totally clear on what actually happens in the Eastern-Ukraine right now.”

The right-wing party NPD seeks to clean up after de-selection of candidate

NPDThe chief of the federal state Hamburg, Thomas Wulff, has been deselected by Germany’s right-wing party NPD (National Party of Germany) after he called himself a National Socialist on a Party Conference. The official justification is: Wulff has “repeatedly and fatally breached with the principles of the party.”

Wulff, acknowledged his mistake saying: “Yes, I named myself a National Socialist in an introduction speech. People must know where I come from and what I am.”  Due to the accusation of sedition Wulff is previously convicted.

Wulff’s statement is more than inconvenient for the NPD – in the following weeks the Federal Constitutional Law will decide, due to the abandonment motion of the Federal Council, if the NPD-ideology shows an affinity with the NSDAP party, which was the solely tolerated party during the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler in Germany. After the first motion in 2003 the current motion is considered much more detailed and based on facts.

Organised crime – The Italian mafia

German and Italian investigators analysed and released documents that show more than 1,200 alleged members, sympathisers and supporters of the Italian mafia live in Germany. According to Spiegel the so-called “Ndrangheta”, which mainly operates in South and West, is particularly powerful.

Mafia Despite of the fact that a large figure exists the documents show that members and supporters are spread all over Germany,  although there are less in the Northern and Eastern parts. The utilised data derives from documents obtained from the Federal  Criminal Agency, the Italian anti-mafia authorities and several prosecutions in Germany.

Immigrant language courses to be scrapped

Unemployed immigrants have struggled to improve their employment opportunities through the impact of language courses.  Despite the government’s announcement to extend the promotion, it seems the project has ended and a succession program is not  in sight.

On 1 April, the Federal Office for migration and refugees (BAMF) informed, amongst others, the regional employment agencies  that immigrants cannot expect an approval of further German courses in the near future.

Focul Online announced: The addressees of the letters hoped for an April Fool but the authorities are serious about the promotion stop. The reason: No more money. Therefore, new courses are only planned for 2015.

The programme was seen as successful despite it being scrapped. From 2007 to 2013 about 120,000 people with a migrant background have been supported. The Federal Employment Agency considers the programme as enormously important. After all it is not only about a pure language course but also about occupational abilities. According to a spokesman the agency now seeks for “compensation options”. By then the managers of job agencies must find alternative solutions to promote their customers with migrant background.

By Maria Wokurka

Pictures: Alan Denney (Ukraine protest), Olli (NPD protest), Chewstroke (Godfather)

Euro Energy, Merkel and Dual Citizenship: German Fast News

Heinrich Klaffs

Heinrich Klaffs

Maria Wokurka analyses the big issues in Germany this week.

Crimea crisis: Vice-chancellor sees no alternatives for Russian petroleum gas

Chancellor Angela Merkel is being encouraged to reassess the entire energy policy of Germany, the online magazine Spiegel has said. The Federal Minister of Economics and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel is convinced there are no acceptable, alternative options in terms of supplies of petroleum gas from Russia.

According to Gabriel, Europe pretends there are plenty of options to obtain natural gasoline in case Russia cuts its exports. “That is not the case”, Gabriel criticised on Thursday. The entire discussion regarding Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil is being criticised for being overly-optimistic.

Franz Dejon

Franz Dejon

Only a few hours before: Chancellor Merkel demanded a reduction in Europe’s dependence on oil and gas resources. After speaking with the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, who signalled that Canada could supply oil and gas for Europe in the future, Merkel said: “There will be an entire and new reconsideration in terms of the energy policy.”

At the same time she advised against too much optimism. “An end of the dependence on Russian resources has not arrived yet.” The necessary infrastructure for alternatives supplies, for instance, is currently lacking.

 At present Russia supplies one third of Germany’s oil and gas. “No need to panic right now”, Gabriel stresses. According to him Moscow will not cut the supplies immediately since “even during the Cold War Russia has met its agreements in terms of contracts.”

Double-passport – A monster of bureaucracy?

According to the online edition of the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany’s two largest parties the Social party SPD and the Christian Democratic party CDU, have agreed on a law about dual citizenship.

Due to this law young immigrants should be allowed to keep multiple citizenship if they have been born and grew up in Germany. Originally the CDU demanded that immigrants have to provide evidence through certificates or entries within the population register. Instead, as the SPD suggested, the authorities will assert the process of growing up themselves, on the basis of reporting dates.

This means that only a small minority of people concerned can be asked by the authorities to clarify him or herself in case of doubt. The Federal Minister of Justice declared on

boellstiftung

boellstiftung

Thursday in Berlin: “Unnecessary, bureaucratic barriers will be avoided.”

The Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said he was satisfied with the solution. According to the CDU politician, the draft law emphasises the special value that German citizenship has for living together, especially adolescents, who have either lived in Germany for eight years or went to a German school for six years in order to benefit from the law. After applicants 21st birthday the authorities will investigate the persons concerned and verify if the preconditions for dual citizenship exist. For single cases an additional article is alloted.

The greatest advantage of the new law is that most young adults are not obliged to decide between the German passport and the one from parent’s side. Mainly affected are German-Turks. EU-citizens, for instance, are already allowed to have two passports. Every year 4000 to 6000 adolescents reach the age which ‘forces’ them to decide.

The Crimea Referendum, Europe and a New World Order

Darren

Darren

Pascale Muller and Maria Wokurka look into what the future holds for Europe following the annexation of Crimea, and whether a return to the days of the Cold War is likely.

History is back. Following last week’s referendum Crimea has been annexed by Russia. Poring over the European media in the following week, was like entering a time machine. The constantly changing circumstances and the lack of information from inside Crimea made and make it hard to keep abreast of the situation.

“Russia and the West: Fearing the abyss” was the headline of the German conservative daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Meanwhile Russian state TV said Russia could turn the US into “radioactive ash”. While a few days ago the British newspaper The Guardian published an article with the headline “Crimea crisis: EU prepares for trade war with Russia”. The french newspaper Le Monde describes the annexation of Crimea as a “Trojan horse strategy”. Rhetoric like this and the increasing military activity of Russia and NATO bring up old memories. Are we heading towards a new Cold War?

Europe finds itself in the midst of an East-West struggle for control of the buffer state of Ukraine. Putin, who has referred to the Soviet Unions fall as the biggest catastrophe of the century, has taken this opportunity to reestablish a Russian sphere of influence. While Obama is convinced that “Putin is on the wrong side of history” the Russian president wants a new world order – a world order in which Russia is a regional hegemon, a great power. The annexation, various German analysts suspect, is Putin’s revenge for 1989. On the Russian side, this historical parallel led to crude analogies, with Putin comparing the annexation of Crimea with the German reunification. The President says that Russia, in contrast to other countries, entirely accepted and respected the will of the German nation. Now in turn the West needs to accept the “reunification of the entity” in Russia. “I am convinced that the Germans will support us in terms of our wish for an reunification”, Putin was quoted on the German TV channel MDR.

But 2014 is not a copy of 1989. “Between whom should there be a new Cold war? Russia is not a big enemy for the USA, since the USA is economically and military-wise much more powerful than Russia. The USA remains the biggest power in our world”, says Serhiy Vanahiy, a Ukrainian activist living in Austria. Even if the US hegemony remains, the great power treads cautiously by imposing sanctions on Russia but refraining from military action. According to Vanahiy the crucial question is how and if the West will continue to respond to Russia’s break of international contracts. “The biggest problem of the situation right now is that Russia violated the law of the Budapest Memorandum from the 5th of December 1994.” A fact that can no longer be ignored by the West without weakening their position.

The Budapest Memorandum entails three declarations by the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, recognising the borders of Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Ukraine as fixed and respected their political and economic sovereignty. In return the three Eastern countries had to agree upon an abdication from nuclear weapons. Should there be a nuclear offensive the UN Security Council is allowed to immediately impose sanctions. With Russia’s unexpected and abrupt behaviour in Crimean affairs, this agreement is obsolete. No surprise, that Belarus immediately expressed deep concern and reached out to it’s NATO allies to ensure it’s safety.

Vanahiy says: “The US will lack credibility if they do not respond to this breach of agreement through Russia. Thereby diverse negotiations and agreements concerning an abdication of nuclear weapons with countries such as Iran, Libya and Syria could unhinge due to two reasons – on one hand there is perhaps not to count on sanctions in case of an agreement breach, on the other hand Russia’s holding of nuclear weapons might eventually render possible almost everything.” The impact of the events goes far beyond Ukraine, Russia or Crimea. After decades of cooperation some are not longer playing to the rules.

Within this frame the Crimea crisis marks the prelude of a strong and potentially armed conflict between East and West, and primarily a conflict between Europe and Russia. According to the German online newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, speaks of “a riot risk of an armed conflict” and elaborates that war might have returned to Europe. France’s minister of foreign affairs was therefore the first to declare Russia as no longer part of the G8 and Germany followed soon after.

NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, clearly condemned the annexation of Crimea. Moscow resides on a “risky way” Rasmussen said in Brussels. “Still Russia violates the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine. Therefore Russia pursues its apparent breach of international commitments.” European leaders see the Crimea crisis as the worst within the last decades. A proof that war or the potential danger of war is still present and not to be underestimated. In Schulz’ opinion it is the EU that has to demonstrate to Russia that it will not accept a crossing of Russia’s achieved border. On March 16 BBC News quoted the European Union saying in a statement that the vote was “illegal and illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised.” Contrariwise a hardening conflict could bring great economic damage to Russia as well as the European Union – one reason the latter retains from blunt actions.

According to the political activist Vaynahiy the conflict across the Crimea crisis might eventually lead to a “Third World War”. His argument: “Once international agreements do not function any longer and ‘nobody’ observes the rules, we obviously face the signal that our current world system is weak.”

Vaynahiy points out that “the EU is completely aware of the dependence of Russia in terms of the energy sector and this dependence is dangerous.” That is why the EU seeks for alternative options as soon as possible. Germany gets about one third of their energy resources from Russia and exports machinery and cars, Italy owes as much as 28 percent of their energy resources to the Kremlin and France has a strong interest in continue to sell warships to Moscow. For Russia, in turn, the consequences are enormous, economic deprivations. 50% of Russia’s budget stem from gas and oil exports.

“If this income ceases to exist, Russia will face great economic losses. I believe that the Russian GDP won’t be the same in two or three years.”, says Vaynahiy. Russia has made a clear choice of ideology over economy, accepting economic damage. A strategy that was believed to be dead in the 21st century and a global convergence over the acceptance of capitalism. According to Vaynahiy, Russia seeks to prove his military power, especially towards the other Russian republics, such as Chechnya and Dagestan.

Disregarding power games and the international impact of the Crimea crisis ahead, Russia’s stronghold on the region and its population might be drastic. The East of Europe fears a wave of refugees from Ukraine seeking shelter from an eventual Russian invasion. Even if Putin keeps denying it, Russian forces at the East Ukrainian border are “very, very sizable and very, very ready”, says Gen. Philip Breedlov, supreme commander of Allied Forces in the New York Times. Meanwhile Bratislava is getting ready to provide shelter of an eventuality of 1,000 – 10,000 refugees from this region of Ukraine, according to the German TV channel Deutsche Welle. Their biggest fear is that Ukraine could vanish from the world map. Whether or not this scenario comes true, world order has been shaken leading us once again into an era of instability.

Skiing Champions, Economic Sanctions and more on Ukraine: German Fast news

pictures by ST

pictures by ST

From sanctions over Crimea to the retirement of a German skiing legend. Maria Wokurka provides a summary of the week in the Bottom Line for Pandeia.

Merkel is convinced there will be an intensification of sanctions

 The heads of states and governments of the EU will decide further freezing of accounts and travel restrictions on Russian officials due to the Crimea crisis. The German chancellor Angela Merkel has already announced economic sanctions.

According to Tagesschau Online it is easier for US President Barack Obama to speak of sanctions against Russia. The Foreign Minister of Poland, Radoslaw Sikorski, is not surprised – referring to economic relations and business the EU faces higher stakes than the US. Furthermore, it is more complicated and complex to find an agreement on sanctions between the 28 member states. In other words, if the EU decides about sanctions there will always be compromise.

After the vote on Crimea the EU Foreign Ministers handed out entry embargoes and blocked accounts for about 20 Russian and Ukrainian politicians. This was the second of three levels of sanctions. Angela Merkel is convinced that there will be an intensification of the second level. She announced in the Federal Parliament: “We decided a second level two weeks ago and the heads of states and governments of the EU will decide about further sanctions of this level. Among these sanctions will be an extension of the list of responsible persons who will be affected by the travel restrictions and account blockings.”

European People's Party - EPP

European People’s Party – EPP

Level three sanctions entail concrete economic sanctions against Russia. Merkel emphasizes that “the EU board is willed to apply sanctions of level three if the situation worsens.”

The economic sanctions could have serious consequences for Russia. Under discussion the halting of Russian gas supplies. This would create problems for those EU states reliant on Russian gas.

A further, unpredictable scenario will be if the Russian government responds to the sanctions with counter sanctions.

Ex Secretary of Education loses action

The German magazine Spiegel has demanded it is high time that German universities act and make sure that doctor’s degrees are only be temporarily awarded.

Around 25,000 doctors leave university every year. Only a trickle of them is seriously encouraged to work in the scientific and research area. Nine out of ten postgraduates turn their backs on the field of research. The reasons include the lack of alternative non-dissertation options and very often the hope for better career opportunities. Last year every fifth deputy of the German Federal Parliament owns the two letters “Dr.” in front of the first name.

The former Secretary of Education, Annette Schavan, started a career of science and wrote a dissertation with the title “The person and the conscience”. She is convinced that she belongs to the scientific community even though her entire career has been a political.

The prestige of being a doctor remains for the entire life and is part of the identity.

Val 202

Val 202

There is a proposal by a Professor of Economics to delete the doctor’s degree from the identity card or to only be allowed to take the article within the area of research and science. Manuel Theisen suggests the doctor’s degree should be temporarily limited. After ten years the right to have the title will be automatically extended unless evidence emerges that the author plagiarised. The positive arguments of this idea are: no new administrative act, no additional effort and expenditures for the universities – the plagiarism will be not be described but the academic honour will be questioned.

The end of an impressive career – German Olympic champion calls it quits

Rationality predominated: the German ski Olympic champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch will not continue her sports career.

The best German female skier has decided to end her career, after 13 years, as triple Olympic champion and double world champion. After winning Gold and Silver in Sochi this year Hoefl-Riesch has reached the peak of her career. Even though she will be missed in the future winter sports her fans are saying goodbye with a crying and a smiling face at the same time – it utterly is the best moment to stop.

Hoefl-Riesch suffered a number of injury problems throughout her career but was able to triumph at three Winter Olympics. She retires at the age of 29.

Bayern, Fraud and Crimea: German Fast News

Themeplus

Themeplus

With news that the president of Bayern Munich has been jailed for tax fraud and Chancellor Angela Merkel warning Russia about its actions in Crimea, Maria Wokurka explains The Bottom Line in Germany this week.

Three years and six months in jail for the president of FC Bayern Munich

Uli Hoeness, the President of Bayern Munich, has been sent to prison for three and a half years arrest for after defrauding tax authorities.

Yet the judgment is without legal capacity. The plea of the FC Bayern Munich president immediately appealed on certain points of law. Nonetheless, Uli Hoeness lost his image as a role model. Even though the pleas of the 62 years old might be successful after appeal, it is improbable that Hoeness will be president of the German football club or a member of the board of directors any longer.

The court has claimed a tax debt of 28.5 million Euros and Uli Hoeness had pressed charges against himself.

Merkel warns Russia

Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticised Russia for putting the stability of the international community at risk.

European Council

European Council

In a government policy statement Merkel said: “We are facing a phase of insecurity and uncertainty. Russia does not show to be a partner for the neighbor country in terms of its cultural, economic and historical deep relations to the Ukraine. Despite this bond Russia is taking advantage of the weakened neighbour state.”

According to Merkel Russia believes its strength counts more than the right of the law. The chancellor emphasised the crisis does not call for a military solution. “In the 21st century we cannot solve a crisis like this with the solutions we might have used in the 19th and 20th century. It is important to find a political-diplomatic way.”

The government hangs behind

The coalition agreement says the state must support single parents in a better way. According to Sueddeutsche Zeitung the parties CDU and SPD have postponed fiscal credit. The coalition promised the credit is on its way but now it looks like the government is stalling – results might not emerge before 2016.

At the moment the Federal Minister for Family Affairs will supposedly agree on an adjustment in terms of the credit for single parents.

According to a family survey of the health insurance company AOK, 70 per cent of the couples with children see themselves in good or very good health conditions. However, only 48 percent of the single parents indicate good health conditions. 17 percent of them even describe the condition as very bad. Several single parents are either unsatisfied with the ever-day-life or overwhelmed.

Kiev, Syria and The Forgotten War: German Fast News

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Following a week which has been dominated by East-West tensions, Maria Wokurka provides the central European view on an increasingly divisive situation in this week’s Bottom Line from Germany.

Kyiv – voices from Germany

The world’s community has been focusing on the Ukraine and Kyiv. The protests and riots have led to the “Crimea crisis”.
Now Kyiv is in the urgent need of financial aid – and the EU is willing to help. The President of the commission, José Manuel Barroso, announced help in the form of eleven billion Euros. Russian’s president Vladimir Putin spoke of economic collaboration, in spite of the crisis.

In France, the foreign ministers of different EU states, including John Kerry and Frank-Walter Steinmeier as well as Sergej Lawrow, have met to diplomatically negotiate the crisis: some have claimed Moscow must eventually face international sanctions if it doesn’t end its involvement in Ukraine.

Germany’s federal government wants to abandon sanctions against Russia if today’s negotiations spawn a possible contact group. Without this contact group the sanctions will be on the agenda at the EU summit. While the German armed forces puts collaboration with the Russian armed forces on the test, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the foreign minister have sought to find a political loophole out of the drastic situation in the Ukraine.

The East-Europe-expert Hans-Henning Schröder said in an Interview with tagesschau.de that he is convinced that the good relationship between Russia and Germany could lead to a de-escalation in terms of the Ukraine. “Indeed, there is a really good connection between Berlin and Moscow. Even though there has been lots of criticism the last years, a big chance lies in this relationship.” According to Schröder, Germany is capable of acting as a negotiator between the West and the East. The online magazine Die Welt speaks of “Merkel’s walk on a tightrope between Putin and Obama.
There will be no easy solution. The foreign minister Steinmeier calls the critical situation in the Ukraine “the most problematic crisis in Europe since the Fall of the Wall.”

Has Syria been forgotten?

Since January the death count in Syria has stopped being recorded by Uno. The situation is a war but has become less prominent in the global media. The violence in Syria is part of the every-day-life. Every second Syrian citizen was forced to leave their home. Germany’s magazine Spiegel Online fears that Syria is becoming one of the forgotten conflicts such as Somalia or Iraq.

a.anis

a.anis

The Uno commissioner Antonio Guterres says: “Five years ago Syria has been the second most important country to receive refugees.” Now there is a dramatic change. “So far Afghanistan counted as the biggest refugee population, Syria is close to displacing Afghanistan.”

What is the current situation? The peace negotiations have temporarily failed. Assad has tried to reconquer districts in Aleppo but 10,000 inhabitants of the city have fled during the last months. The German authorities have said that 300 Germans are currently in Syria. How many of them are involved in fighting however is not known.

Export vs import – does Germany export debt?

Germany is currently being described as the trade world champion. Indeed, this name is flattering for a country that bases its political self-confidence on its economic strength. Brussels is skeptical and critical towards Germany’s economic imbalance.
Germany’s government has always referred to the country as remarkably competitive and that has been the best argument so far. But during the last few years the government signed several summit declarations. According to these declarations the huge economic imbalances worldwide are a central cause for recent crises. If Chancellor Angela Merkel appeals to, for instance, Greece to improve the competitiveness in terms of export numbers, there is no other way that countries such as Germany have to reduce their exports and increase their imports instead.

More export than import or vice versa – in general that is not the biggest problem as long as the imbalances stay within the bounds of possibility. That means that higher import countries must be able to afford these higher imports. Higher export countries, however, are exporting debts together with their commodities.