The American World Power needs a strong Europe
Official visit to Washington
Forced laborers, Arms control, Scientology
Fischer to follow
May 4, 2000
Washington. May 4. Federal President Rau pled for a "strong Europe" as a complement to the sole remaining world power in his first official visit to the United States since he entered office. Rau started off his three day visit to Washington on a positive note and said that there was "no crisis" in trans-Atlantic and bilateral relations, but that there were occasional "differences of opinion among friends." Rau, who wants to get together this Friday at the end of his visit in New York with the General Secretary of the United Nations (UN) Annan, spoke out in favor of a "community of those with equal rights."
In the American capitol, Rau met with leading representatives of Congress, but not with President Clinton. The Federal President expects to meet him in the beginning of June - before his Moscow "summit" with Russian President Putin - as a guest in Berlin, and then in the presentation of the Charlemagne Award in Aachen. The main occasion for Rau's trip to America (besides a benefit concert for the renovation of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig) was a joint appearance with Secretary of State Albright and Swedish Minister President Persson in an annual conference of the American Jewish Committee. Rau rated the invitation to speak before this forum as a "personal distinction."
In his speech on Thursday, he added praise to his prepared speech for the American Jewish organization, which opened up its first office in Berlin two years ago, for having been the first outside of Germany to "publicly support German unity." He added, "I know that there were anxieties that German unity and the move from Bonn to Berlin could go the routes of the past. That has not proven true." Prior to that, he had told journalists that there was no "new high-handedness" in German foreign politics. On the contrary, he admitted that in connection with the filling of a new director's position with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there have been "annoying overtones." But that subject had meanwhile been "straightened out." Moreover, he pled for a "mixture of self-confidence and modesty."
Regarding the agreed upon recompensation for the slave and forced laborers of the German agent, Graf Lambsdorff, there will be consultants traveling to Washington in the coming weeks - but the Federal President expressed his confidence that German business would keep its promise and, in spite of a shaky start, would quickly make its contribution (five billion marks for a total sum of ten billion). He hoped for payment this year. That was especially urgent in view of the advanced age of the surviving victims, said Rau.
To the question of neo-Nazi dealings in Germany, he replied that he could not perceive any "growth in rightwing radicalism." Neither were there political extremists, like the Liberal Party in Austria, because no forces of that type existed in the German Parliament. With a look at the continuing controversy surrounding the "Church of Scientology," Rau said that it "was not a religious association with us." The fact that an organization described itself as a "church" did not make it one.
In his speech before the American Jewish Committee, Rau stated, without going into detail, "See to the future of arms control negotiations," and added, "I do not want to hide the fact that I am concerned about the attitude of principle opponents of arms control in the U.S. Senate." That statement apparently referred to the rejection of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of last year. But the Federal President did not wish to comment on specific questions, for example, on the plans of the American government to construct a missile defense system. This subject was going to be a theme in the spring negotiations with Foreign Minister Fischer, which are to begin on Sunday.
German Scientology News