BERLIN (Reuters) – Watching thousands of miles away, Kurds in western Europe welcomed jailed rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan’s ceasefire message as a critical step toward ending almost 30 years of conflict in Turkey, but expressed concern over Ankara’s next steps.
With thousands displaced by the violence or having fled on political grounds, many Kurds in Europe have long regarded Ocalan, jailed on a Turkish prison island since 1999, as a symbolic leader.
BERLIN (Reuters) – The German government decided against trying to outlaw the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), branded by its critics as neo-Nazi, over doubts that judges would back such a move.
The government said it would instead support a separate bid by Germany’s 16 federal states to ask the Constitutional Court to ban the party which the domestic intelligence service has called “racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist”.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Angela Merkel’s conservatives on Monday ruled out granting same-sex couples the same tax benefits as married people, with the chancellor bowing to pressure from traditionalists six months before a federal election.
The centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU) agreed last December to keep the status quo for gay couples, who under current rules do not enjoy the tax benefits of married heterosexuals.
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she favored new talks to revive Turkey’s stalled European Union membership bid, following warnings by the Turkish prime minister its half-century wait was “unforgivable”.
Yet Merkel, who favors a “privileged partnership” for Turkey in place of full EU membership, stressed the outcome of Ankara’s talks with Brussels should be open, and she remained skeptical about whether Turkey should join.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s president reassured Europeans on Friday that they had nothing to fear from Berlin’s dominant role in the continent and said closer integration would lead to a more European Germany rather than a Europe forced into Germany’s image.
Germany’s leading role in setting conditions for bailing out profligate euro zone states has sparked deep anti-German sentiment across southern Europe, with some there drawing parallels to the Nazi period when Germany conquered much of the continent.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Angela Merkel embarks on a tricky visit to Turkey on Sunday looking increasingly isolated in her personal opposition to its European Union entry bid and facing charges from Ankara that Germany is soft on Kurdish militants.
Her two-day visit occurs at a sensitive moment – a change of president in France is bringing new momentum to Turkey’s EU membership application, just as Ankara finds itself forced to re-engage more actively with the West as the conflict raging in Syria badly strains ties with its eastern neighbours.
BERLIN/ROME (Reuters) – Catholics reacted with shock on Monday to the first papal abdication since the Middle Ages, although the mood among many was one of respect rather than the outpouring of emotion which greeted the death of his beloved predecessor John Paul II.
In Germany, the pope’s home country, where eight years ago the election of the first German pope in more than 1,000 years was greeted with the headline “We are Pope!”, there was surprise but little overt emotion.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Two adolescents’ experiences of reading the French 18th century novel ‘The Nun’ lie at the heart of new film of Denis Diderot’s book, in which a teenage girl is sent to a convent and browbeaten into taking the veil.
The first is that of director Guillaume Nicloux himself, who read the book as a youngster just as he was embarking on his own personal rebellion after a religious education. The second is that of his teenage daughter, who convinced him the story of Sister Suzanne’s struggle still resonated in the modern world.
BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) – Germany’s trade surplus was the
second highest in more than 60 years in 2012, pointing to an
underlying resilience in Europe’s largest economy, although both
imports and exports disappointed in the last month of the year.
Exports rose just 0.3 percent in December from November,
compared with a forecast rise of 1.3 percent, and imports fell
1.3 percent against expectations for a rise of 1.4 percent
MUNICH (Reuters) – Iran said on Sunday it was open to a U.S. offer of direct talks on its nuclear program and that six world powers had suggested a new round of nuclear negotiations this month, but without committing itself to either proposal.
Diplomatic efforts to resolve a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West suspects is intended to give Iran the capability to build a nuclear bomb, have been all but deadlocked for years, while Iran has continued to announce advances in the program.