Schroeder bows out with swipe at Bush, Blair

Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany announced on Wednesday he was bowing out of public life and said he would not serve in a "grand coalition" under Angela Merkel, despite earlier speculation he might stay on as foreign minister.

"I will not belong to the next government, definitely not," said an emotional Mr Schroeder, addressing a trade union conference in Hanover, his home town, to thunderous applause. He also managed a valedictory swipe at two of his biggest adversaries - Tony Blair and George Bush.

Describing Mr Blair ironically as "my British friend", the chancellor said that Mr Blair also had "other friends" too, a barbed reference to the prime minister's stalwart alliance with Mr Bush over Iraq.

The chancellor also attacked the more limited Anglo-Saxon model of the state, warning that Germany under Mrs Merkel should not try to emulate Britain or the US. "I can think of a recent disaster that shows what happens when a country neglects its duties of state toward its people.

"My post as chancellor, which I still hold, does not allow me to name that country. But you all know I'm talking about America," Mr Schroeder said to laughter. "People do not want the state in their faces, but they want it at their side," reports Guardian.

According to DeHavillad, he told a trade union conference in his hometown of Hanover that Germany must stay out of Iraq.

Mr Blair was savaged for his stance on the European Union and economic and social reforms.

Instead of working to forge closer ties with Britain and the US, Mr Schroeder urged Germans to become closer partners with Paris.

"I say to my British friend that people in Germany, in Europe, don't want complete denationalisation, they don't want the privatisation of lifetime risks," he said.

The Anglo-Saxon model will have no chance in Europe, he added,

"Anyone who wants to defend the European social model must ensure that the German-French relationship remains intact," he said.

Photo: the AP P.T.

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