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Merkel Defends Her Foreign Policy Against Kohl’s Criticism

Chancellor Angela Merkel said her government has grappled “resolutely” with global issues, defending herself against criticism from a predecessor, Helmut Kohl, who this week called German foreign policy listless.

Merkel told NDR radio that her Christian Democratic-led government has acted decisively on issues in the European Union, North Africa and the Middle East. Former Chancellor Kohl yesterday said that Germany is no longer a reliable partner to its Western allies, particularly the U.S.

“I think the achievements of Helmut Kohl as the chancellor of unity and also in the context of European unity can hardly be valued enough -- but it’s also true that every era has its own specific challenges,” Merkel said in the interview today.

The 81-year-old Kohl, who led Germany from 1982 to 1998, told foreign-policy magazine Internationale Politik in an interview that Germany had begun to follow an arbitrary course in diplomacy.

“Germany has no longer been a known quantity for a number of years -- either inwardly or outwardly,” Kohl said. Both Merkel and Kohl are Christian Democrats.

Kohl, who appointed Merkel as his environment minister in 1994, lamented the fact that President Barack Obama didn’t visit Germany on his European visit in May. Obama’s European tour included trips to Ireland, the U.K. and Poland and a Group of Eight summit.

“After everything that we Germans and Americans have lived through together and what ties us closely, I never would have dreamed that I would ever experience a sitting American president traveling to Europe, avoiding Germany -- indeed flying over it,” Kohl said.

Kohl, in the interview, didn’t name either Merkel or his immediate successor, Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder.

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