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German chancellor’s New Year’s speech

BERLIN –


Germany’s chancellor used his New Year’s speech to call on his country’s citizens not to lose confidence in the future as they adapt to a world experiencing multiple crises and changing at an ever-faster pace.


“So much suffering; so much bloodshed. Our world has become a more unsettled and harsher place. It’s changing at an almost breathtaking speed,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in the prerecorded speech to be broadcast Sunday.


Scholz was referring to Russia’s war on Ukraine, a resulting rise in energy prices, the suffering during the coronavirus pandemic, and the attack by Hamas that triggered Israel’s military offensive in Gaza.


“The result is that we, too, are having to change,” he said. “This is a worrying thing for many of us. In some, it is also causing discontent. I do take that to heart. But I also know this: We in Germany will get through it.”


The chancellor pointed out how despite widespread worry a year ago, Germans did not end up without heat last winter after Russia cut off most of its natural gas supplies to Europe.


“Things have turned out differently. Inflation has gone down. Wages and pensions are going up. Our gas storage facilities are filled to the brim for the winter,” he said, expressing confidence in the policies of his multi-party coalition government.


The German government led by Scholz has become known for infighting during two years in power and has seen its poll ratings slump. Germany’s economy also is underperforming, but the chancellor nonetheless tried to paint a positive picture of the year ahead.


Many families will have to pay less in taxes, and the government plans to put oney into the country’s ailing transportation infrastructure and clean energy, he said.


“‘Who will manage, if not you in Germany?’ — that’s something I hear from many people around us in Europe and the rest of the world,” Scholz said. “And there’s something in that. More women and men have jobs in Germany today than at any time in the past.”


Scholz also stressed the importance of the European Union, especially in times of crisis.


“Our strength resides in the European Union. When the EU presents a united front, it speaks for more than 400 million people. In a world of 8 billion, soon to be 10 billion people, that’s a real asset,” he said.


However, the chancellor made clear that Germany needs the work of all its people to take the country forward.


“My fellow citizens, our strength also resides in the realization that each and every one of us is needed in our country — the top researcher just like the carer, the police officer just like the delivery driver, the pensioner just like the young trainee,” he said.


“If we get that into our heads, if we deal with one another in that spirit of respect, then we need have no fear about the future,” Scholz said. “Then the year 2024 will be a good year for our country, even if some things do turn out differently from the way we imagine them today, on the eve of that new year.”



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