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Preview of Barack Obama's visit to Germany

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<p>German authorities are confident of resolving a dispute over Barack Obama's visit to Berlin.</p><p>Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled unease over a possible speech to be made by the US Democratic presidential nominee at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate.</p><p>Merkel has questioned whether it's appropriate to bring a foreign election campaign to a site that symbolises Germany's Cold War division and later reunification.</p><p>City officials say they have been contacted by Obama's Democratic campaign staff about the idea.</p><p>The Brandenburg Gate, which once stood behind the Berlin Wall, was the backdrop for a 1987 speech in which President Ronald Reagan urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."</p><p>John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton have also both made famous speeches at the gate.</p><p>The Obama campaign has refused to provide specifics on his European trip.</p><p>The speech in Germany is expected to draw thousands, where it is not only Obama's youth, eloquence and energy that have stolen hearts.</p><p>For Europeans, there have always been two Americas: one of cynicism, big business and bullying aggression, another of freedom, fairness, and nothing-is-impossible dynamism.</p><p>If George W. Bush was seen as the embodiment of that first America, Obama has raised expectations of a chance for the nation to redeem itself in the second role which, at various times through history, Europe has loved, respected, and relied upon.</p><p>In his first major speech on foreign policy, Obama last week vowed to fight climate change, stress diplomacy in dealing with Iran and produce a clear exit strategy for Iraq - all issues where Bush angered Europe by taking an opposite tack.</p><p>Polls from Germany, France and Britain, the only three countries on Obama's European tour, show the presumptive Democratic candidate an overwhelming favourite over his rival, Republican John McCain.</p><p>There are various explanations for Europe's Obamamania, and Doctor Harald Wenzel, a professor of sociology at the John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies at the Free University Berlin, sees different aspects.</p><p>"There are certainly parallels to Kennedy. Kennedy was very charismatic, Kennedy represented new horizons and appealed particularly to young people, and we can find that in Obama today, too," he told AP Television.</p><p>"On the other hand one has to say that Europe and also the Germans made certain experiences with the US presidency in the past eight years, experiences not everyone is happy about," he said.</p><p>One woman told AP Television she thought the majority of Berliners would be happy about the upcoming visit from the US presidential hopeful.</p><p>"He is an open-minded, courageous and appealing person, and I think that Berlin can learn a thing or two from him," she said.</p><p>One group certainly looking forward to the visit is 'Democrats Abroad', the overseas branch of the US Democratic party.</p><p>"There's been a long legacy, tradition of good American-Berlin relations and I am really happy that Barack Obama picked the city," said chair of the group, Michael Steltzer.</p><p>Hartmut Augustin, of Berlin's "Berliner Zeitung" newspaper, said interest in the upcoming US elections had encouraged the paper to cover the story in depth.</p><p>"There is a direct reaction from the readers, there are many letters to the editor, and this encourages us to run the story big. The interest in the US is already big," he said.</p><p>There appears to be a deeper mechanism behind Europe's palpable excitement over Obama than just a break from the acrimonious Bush years.</p><p>After all, it's difficult to imagine the continent being swept by "Clinton-mania" or "Edwards-mania" had one of Obama's main rivals for the Democratic nomination prevailed.</p><p>For Europeans, perhaps, it isn't just that Obama isn't Bush but that he's come to be seen as the "anti-Bush" - a figure who represents such a startling contrast to the outgoing president that there's a sense the whole Washington power structure might be purged of much that Europeans see as wrong with American leadership.</p><p>These are great expectations that may very well be dashed if Obama is elected and is thrown into the intricate realities of the Beltway game, but for now European hope is prevailing over its habitual tendency toward cynicism.</p>

dc:identifier
018-00572122
dc:source
AP Archive
dc:title
Preview of Barack Obama's visit to Germany
dc:type
MovingImage
mhub:credit
AP Archive
dc:description
<p>German authorities are confident of resolving a dispute over Barack Obama's visit to Berlin.</p><p>Chancellor Angela Merkel signalled unease over a possible speech to be made by the US Democratic presidential nominee at Berlin's historic Brandenburg Gate.</p><p>Merkel has questioned whether it's appropriate to bring a foreign election campaign to a site that symbolises Germany's Cold War division and later reunification.</p><p>City officials say they have been contacted by Obama's Democratic campaign staff about the idea.</p><p>The Brandenburg Gate, which once stood behind the Berlin Wall, was the backdrop for a 1987 speech in which President Ronald Reagan urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."</p><p>John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton have also both made famous speeches at the gate.</p><p>The Obama campaign has refused to provide specifics on his European trip.</p><p>The speech in Germany is expected to draw thousands, where it is not only Obama's youth, eloquence and energy that have stolen hearts.</p><p>For Europeans, there have always been two Americas: one of cynicism, big business and bullying aggression, another of freedom, fairness, and nothing-is-impossible dynamism.</p><p>If George W. Bush was seen as the embodiment of that first America, Obama has raised expectations of a chance for the nation to redeem itself in the second role which, at various times through history, Europe has loved, respected, and relied upon.</p><p>In his first major speech on foreign policy, Obama last week vowed to fight climate change, stress diplomacy in dealing with Iran and produce a clear exit strategy for Iraq - all issues where Bush angered Europe by taking an opposite tack.</p><p>Polls from Germany, France and Britain, the only three countries on Obama's European tour, show the presumptive Democratic candidate an overwhelming favourite over his rival, Republican John McCain.</p><p>There are various explanations for Europe's Obamamania, and Doctor Harald Wenzel, a professor of sociology at the John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies at the Free University Berlin, sees different aspects.</p><p>"There are certainly parallels to Kennedy. Kennedy was very charismatic, Kennedy represented new horizons and appealed particularly to young people, and we can find that in Obama today, too," he told AP Television.</p><p>"On the other hand one has to say that Europe and also the Germans made certain experiences with the US presidency in the past eight years, experiences not everyone is happy about," he said.</p><p>One woman told AP Television she thought the majority of Berliners would be happy about the upcoming visit from the US presidential hopeful.</p><p>"He is an open-minded, courageous and appealing person, and I think that Berlin can learn a thing or two from him," she said.</p><p>One group certainly looking forward to the visit is 'Democrats Abroad', the overseas branch of the US Democratic party.</p><p>"There's been a long legacy, tradition of good American-Berlin relations and I am really happy that Barack Obama picked the city," said chair of the group, Michael Steltzer.</p><p>Hartmut Augustin, of Berlin's "Berliner Zeitung" newspaper, said interest in the upcoming US elections had encouraged the paper to cover the story in depth.</p><p>"There is a direct reaction from the readers, there are many letters to the editor, and this encourages us to run the story big. The interest in the US is already big," he said.</p><p>There appears to be a deeper mechanism behind Europe's palpable excitement over Obama than just a break from the acrimonious Bush years.</p><p>After all, it's difficult to imagine the continent being swept by "Clinton-mania" or "Edwards-mania" had one of Obama's main rivals for the Democratic nomination prevailed.</p><p>For Europeans, perhaps, it isn't just that Obama isn't Bush but that he's come to be seen as the "anti-Bush" - a figure who represents such a startling contrast to the outgoing president that there's a sense the whole Washington power structure might be purged of much that Europeans see as wrong with American leadership.</p><p>These are great expectations that may very well be dashed if Obama is elected and is thrown into the intricate realities of the Beltway game, but for now European hope is prevailing over its habitual tendency toward cynicism.</p>
dc:subject
politics
diplomacy
mhub:temporal-coverage
1987-12-081987-08-20