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  • Mr. President, you just spent two weeks in quarantine. How are you feeling now?

  • Everything was fine, I'm well, I wasn't infected. But after 14 days I can say: One

  • should avoid quarantine if possible. I'm glad I can meet people face to face again.

  • Once again, brutal crimes have been committed in France. How is it possible, do you think,

  • that this can happen in the center of Europe? Of course our thoughts are, above all, with

  • the relatives who have our sympathy. But I believe what we must do now in Europe, not

  • just in France, is to stand up to this act of brutality and the Islamist motives behind

  • it. We should do that. Many people in Europe have done that. And it's good that representatives

  • of Muslim states also joined in this condemnation. Do you fear that there could also be attacks

  • in Germany? Most recently we had an attack in Dresden

  • where one person was wounded and another died. So we cannot pretend that we are immune to

  • such attacks here in Germany. On the contrary, we have to remain vigilant. Indeed, the security

  • services are vigilant. But in our democratic societies, we shouldn't base the response

  • of the state on a course determined by hate and xenophobia. Acceptance and mutual respect

  • are a part of our society. And so, standing up to such acts of brutal violence, and Islamist

  • motives is one thing, the other is trying to maintain the openness of our society. That's

  • the other challenge. You were speaking about the role of Muslim

  • associations. What role do the verbal attacks of President Erdogan play in the escalation?

  • They are not helpful at all, that's beyond doubt. I hope that this escalation, which

  • we've noted, this noticeably harsher rhetoric, didn't lead to possible perpetrators feeling

  • encouraged. Mr. Steinmeier, we are in the middle of the

  • coronavirus crisis. Germany is facing a partial lockdown. Have we lost control?

  • We certainly are in a critical phase. That is true for many states in Europe, but also

  • for Germany. We are in a situation where the number of infections is rising every day,

  • reaching new records. This is also a practical test for democracy in Germany. Either we manage

  • to reduce the number of infections significantly with the means at our disposal, or the situation

  • will get out of control. I am confident that we will succeed in pushing back the rate of

  • infection. Still, the question remains, faced with such

  • heavy measureswhat is more important, the health of the population or their basic

  • freedoms? I'm convinced that most people realize that

  • these burdens are necessary at this point, so we don't have to experience what some

  • of our neighbors have experiencedhospitals overflowing, highly infectious patients having

  • to lie in corridors, or who can't be admitted at all. We must avoid pushing the health system

  • beyond its limits, that is the central goal now. I think that people understand that.

  • Nevertheless, resistance to these measures is growing across Europe, and also in Germany.

  • We can expect a long, hard winter. Are politicians not driving more and more people into the

  • arms of conspiracy theorists and radicals? Of course, we know this from health emergencies

  • in the past - the longer such a pandemic lasts, the greater the strains areand the stronger

  • the criticism of restrictions. But the number of people who consider the restrictions to

  • be correct or are demanding stricter measures is currently growing faster than the number

  • of critics. In this respect, it's not so much the numbers that worry me, but the abrasiveness

  • of the argument. There is hardly a bridge between those who say, yes, that is correct

  • - and those who either don't consider the coronavirus a danger, or completely reject

  • restrictions. I've tried myself to bring supporters and opponents together. This can be done in

  • smaller groups. But on a larger scale, the conversation has indeed become more difficult.

  • Those people who are now abandoning dialogue, who are changing to the side of the radicals,

  • how can they be brought back to a democratic discourse?

  • You cannot force someone into a democratic discourse. Politicians constantly have to

  • take on the task of explaining in a transparent manner what they're doing and why certain

  • measures are required. With the number of infections rising, those that assert that

  • we are dealing with a simple flu, that we politicians are cooking up a storm, are themselves

  • increasingly under pressure. Mr. Presidentin a few days, a new president

  • will be elected in the United States. How important is that election?

  • Of course, this is, first of all, important for the U.S. itself. But the election on November

  • 3 will have a global impact. Regardless of who wins – I hope that afterwards the United

  • States will again develop the ability to have a shared idea about the future of their country.

  • And what's important for us as Europeans is to also understand that the European project,

  • with European integration and cooperation, is invested in the transatlantic relationship.

  • This has not been the case recently. But I hope that new understanding for Europe will

  • grow. Supposing that there's a change of president

  • in the White House. Will the transatlantic relationship be okay?

  • I think we Europeans, and especially we Germans, must force ourselves to take a realistic look

  • at the changed situation, one in which the U.S. also finds itself. With the end of the

  • Cold War, with the realization that Russia is no longer the number one threat for the

  • U.S., but that the security threats for the United States might come from other corners

  • of the world, a reorientation has occurred. This political reorientation, or let's say

  • this focus on China and East Asia, that's something that began before Trumpbut

  • not with the aggressiveness with which the dispute with China is being sought now.

  • What does that mean for German policy? I am firmly convinced that what first of all

  • needs to happen is to recognize that our national interest is Europe. But perhaps this coronavirus

  • crisis has shown how important European cooperation is. There was a really, perhaps unexpected,

  • but courageous decision by the European heads of government in July regarding the really

  • substantial European reconstruction fund. I see that there are joint European efforts,

  • for example, in the development, production and distribution of a vaccine. And just recently,

  • decisions were made to enable cross-border aid when hospitals in border areas overflow

  • and capacities are still available on the other side. That means that Europe is learning

  • even in the crisisand I hope that this attitude of learning from one another

  • will continue. But investing in Europe is one of the tasks I think Germany will continue

  • to face. Mr. Steinmeier, the relationship with Russia

  • is at its lowest point - most recently due to the poisoning of Alexej Navalny. Are you

  • concerned? I'm concerned about Navalny being poisoned,

  • but my concern actually dates back a long time. Of course, one should mention the illegal

  • annexation of Crimea, where I fear that Moscow has not properly understood the shock that

  • it caused in Europe - and not just in Eastern Europe. What followed didn't change things

  • for the better. Members of the opposition in Russia came increasingly under pressure.

  • Some have to fear for their lives...some have lost it, right up to the Tiergarten murder

  • and Navalny. This has put us in a situation where the distance has grown, without a doubt.

  • I believe we shouldn't just let this process of alienation continue. Our history in Europe,

  • but also the geographical location, with Russia as a neighbor, makes it necessary to look

  • for opportunities, again and again, to counter that.

  • But as I say, you cannot change this unilaterally. This also requires the will and understanding

  • of the Russian side. It sounds as though they aren't giving enough?

  • In my opinion, it's too little, yes. Developments in the U.S., Russia and China

  • show how important it is for Germany to take on a leadership role. How much is Germany

  • ready for? We need an understanding in Germany that this

  • country is important in Europe. If we invest in Europe, others will too. Due to our geographical

  • location and history, we have the task of building bridges that need to be built in

  • Europe between East and West. Bridges across some of the misunderstandings and cracks that

  • have appeared in the past year. But what's more important still, is understanding that

  • we also have to invest in Europe in terms of security policy. On the one hand, this

  • means making Europe stronger and, on the other hand, as I said recently, it also means significantly

  • strengthening the European pillar in NATO. Both are necessary.

  • Mr. Steinmeier, next year we have federal elections in Germany. This also marks the

  • end of Angela Merkel's political era. Isn't Germany losing influence with the Chancellor,

  • both internationally and in Europe? First of all, it is quite natural that if

  • someone had the opportunity to gain political experience after so many years in government

  • office, and even more importantly, had the opportunity to expand a political network

  • in all European countries and far beyond ... whoever becomes a successor will start differently.

  • In this respect, these are big shoes to fill, but that doesn't mean that the successor

  • is denied the opportunity to develop a similar influence over the years. But, that's not

  • that easy, you're right, the shoes are big. Mr. Steinmeier, thank you for the interview.

  • I thank you.

Mr. President, you just spent two weeks in quarantine. How are you feeling now?

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German President Steinmeier: 'This is a test for our democracy' | DW Interview

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/11/01
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