New president urges Germans to stand by Europe

Mar 23, 2012, 10:52 AM

Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s new president urged his compatriots on Friday not to turn their backs on European unity amid the debt crisis and said he wants to help ensure that people of all origins feel at home in the country.

Joachim Gauck, a former Lutheran pastor and East German pro-democracy activist with no party affiliation, was formally sworn in after a parliamentary assembly elected him by an overwhelming majority last weekend.

In an inaugural address to Parliament, the 72-year-old said it is important to “preserve (Germany’s) ‘yes to Europe.'”

“In times of crisis in particular, the inclination to take refuge at the level of the national state is particularly marked,” Gauck said. “But European cooperation cannot be shaped without the life breath of solidarity.”

The right answer to the crisis is “more Europe,” he said, adding that a majority of Germans “continue to give this European idea a future.”

Rescuing struggling eurozone nations has been unpopular in prosperous Germany, Europe’s biggest economy. The country’s president has little power over day-to-day political decisions, but the largely ceremonial post carries moral authority.

Gauck replaces Christian Wulff, who quit last month after less than two years office amid a scandal over favors he allegedly received from rich friends before becoming head of state in 2010.

During his tenure, Wulff who sought to advance the integration of ethnic minorities and declared that Islam “belongs to Germany.” Gauck said that Wulff’s push for “an inviting, open society” would be important to his own five-year term.

“In our country, all those who live here should be able to feel at home,” he said.

“We would be ill-advised to close our eyes to real problems out of ignorance or false correctness,” Gauck added. “But when it comes to living together, we must not be led by fears, resentments and negative projections.”

He also stressed Germany’s unity against “far-right despisers of democracy,” declaring that “we will not give you the gift of our fear: you will be consigned to the past and our democracy will live.”

Germany was shocked by revelations last year that a neo-Nazi group that evaded authorities’ detection for a decade apparently killed eight people of Turkish origin, a Greek man and a policewoman over a seven-year period.

Gauck is united Germany’s first head of state from the formerly communist east. For a decade after reunification, he oversaw the files of East Germany’s detested secret police, the Stasi _ helping easterners deal with the often painful process of confronting the truth about authorities’ blanket surveillance of their lives.

His election as president demonstrates “the unstoppable progress of internal unity in our unified country,” Parliament speaker Norbert Lammert said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
New president urges Germans to stand by Europe