Merkel warns Obama not to use landmark for 'electioneering'
BERLIN (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed a request by Barack Obama to give a speech this month before the Brandenburg Gate as "inappropriate", her deputy spokesman said Wednesday.
The conservative leader said that while she would be pleased to meet the US Democratic presidential hopeful, it would be wrong for him to hold a "campaign rally" at the historic symbol of German unification.
"It is unusual to do electioneering abroad," spokesman Thomas Steg told reporters.
"It is unusual to hold election rallies abroad. No German candidate for high office would even think of using the National Mall (in Washington) or Red Square in Moscow for a rally because it would not be seen as appropriate."
Authorities in the capital have confirmed that Obama plans to visit Berlin on July 24 and is interested in speaking at the foot of the Brandenburg Gate.
The left-leaning government of the city-state, which has the sole right to approve such a request, has not yet made a formal decision but Mayor Klaus Wowereit gave his backing Tuesday.
The gate, built in the late 18th century under Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm II as a symbol of peace, is the country's most prominent symbol of German unification in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall the year before.
In an unusual move, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier sharply contradicted Merkel's views at a regular government press conference, saying they could be interpreted in the United States as an affront to Obama.
Foreign ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner said Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, was eager to meet Obama after speaking with him on the phone in April, and said his likely Republican opponent John McCain should also be welcome to speak at the Brandenburg Gate if he chose to.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Has Obama Ever had an Original Thought?
Will Barack Obama make a speech like JFK (but JFK's wasn't really at the gate--kinda about the gate though) at the Brandenburg Gate?