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20,000 join rally against racism in eastern German city of Dresden

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Rally

The demonstration is organised by the group Unteilbar (Indivisible), which staged a similar protest in the capital Berlin last year, drawing 250,000 people.

The group was due to give a more exact estimate of turnout later in the afternoon.

Among the attendees were Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, and the leaders of the far-left Die Linke party, Bernd Riexinger and Katja Kipping.

The Unteilbar demonstration was taking place, one week before state elections in Saxony and Brandenburg, in which the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is expected to make significant gains.

The AfD is campaigning on an anti-immigration platform.

“Unteilbar stands for an open and free society.

AIB

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

Foreign

Protests spread across Germany over George Floyd killing in United States

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Tens of thousands of people in Germany demonstrated on Saturday against racism and police brutality following the killing of African American George Floyd in the United States city of Minneapolis.

According to police, around 15,000 participants at Alexanderplatz Square in Berlin alone, but only 1,500 participants had registered for the event, despite the minimal distance order during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police officers said on Twitter that the square was full and asked people to stop arriving.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed facing down on a Minneapolis street.

In Germany, many of the demonstrators in black clothes carried banners supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Organizers called for a silent demonstration lasting exactly 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time it took for Floyd to lose consciousness as the police officer knelt on his neck.

Berlin police said they made a number of arrests after a group of demonstrators threw bottles and stones at officers. One officer was injured. In a separate incident, a press photographer was hit in the head by a bottle, police added.

Around 25,000 demonstrators took to the streets in Munich, but according to the police, only 200 people had registered for the event. The meeting area was finally expanded to make more space to allow demonstrators to follow the social distancing order.

In Hamburg, the police said a total of 14,000 people joined the demonstrations in two almost simultaneous rallies at Jungfernstieg and Rathausmarkt, but only around 800 were allowed because of the anti-coronavirus measures.

The Hamburg police had already declared their solidarity before the demonstrations. “We are by your side!” tweeted it before the rallies started. “Racism shouldn’t have a place in our society. We work every day so that everyone in Hamburg can feel safe.”

Other cities like Frankfurt, Mannheim and Stuttgart were also full of demonstrators on Saturday. Calls for “Silent Demos” had been published on the Internet, calling for “No to racism” and “Black Lives Matter.”

(XINHUA)

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Hungary, Germany to lift travel restrictions to each other’s citizens: FM

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Hungary and Germany will lift travel restrictions for each other’s citizens from 8 a.m. on Sunday, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto said on his Facebook page on Saturday.

“Germany is our biggest trading partner. Many Hungarians work in Germany. Their employment and contact with their families have encountered very serious difficulties in the recent period,” Szijjarto said in a video message.

Germany’s management of the pandemic has proven to be effective, the minister said, adding that this provides an opportunity to lift restrictions on passenger traffic between the two countries.

German nationals will be allowed entry into Hungary, and Hungarians who return home from Germany are exempt from the quarantine obligations, according to the minister.

In another development, travel restrictions between Hungary, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia had been completely lifted starting from Friday.

(XINHUA)

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Merkel allies criticise Trump decision to cut United States troops in Germany

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Senior lawmakers, from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling conservative bloc, on Saturday, criticised President Donald Trump’s decision to order the United States military to remove 9,500 troops from Germany.

The move would reduce United States troop’s numbers in Germany to 25,000, from 34,500.

“The plans once again show that the Trump administration is neglecting an elementary leadership task: the involvement of alliance partners in decision-making processes,’’ Johann Wadephul, foreign policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, told Reuters.

All NATO partners benefited from the cohesion of the alliance, and only Russia and China gain from discord, Wadephul said, adding: “This should be given more attention in Washington’’.

Wadephul also spoke of a “further wake-up call” to Europeans to position themselves better in terms of security policy.

The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Andreas Nick, like Wadephul a member of the parliamentary foreign relations committee, told Deutsche Welle the indications were that “the decision was not a technical but a purely politically motivated decision’’.

A United States official, who did not want to be identified, said on Friday the move was the result of months of work by the top United States military officer, General Mark Milley, and had nothing to do with tensions between Trump and Merkel, who thwarted Trump’s plan to host a G7 meeting this month.

The withdrawal, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, is the latest twist in relations between Berlin and Washington, which have often been strained during Trump’s presidency.

Trump has pressed Germany to raise defence spending and accused Berlin of being a “captive” of Russia due to its energy reliance.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidised the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced this on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,’’ said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros ($12.5 million) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The programme was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year.

However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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German police attempt to break up anti-racism rally in Hamburg

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Police in the northern German city of Hamburg on Friday said they had intervened to disperse attendees of an anti-racism rally they claimed were not adhering to coronavirus restrictions.

Around 1,500 people attended the demonstration, which was linked to last week’s killing by United States police of African-American man, George Floyd.

The event had originally been registered for 250 participants outside the United States consulate along the banks of Hamburg’s Alster River, a police spokesperson said.

Police declared the event over after just half an hour, claiming attendees had violated police instructions to observe coronavirus restrictions such as keeping a safe distance from one another and wearing a covering over their lower faces.

However, the crowds did not immediately disperse, with photos posted on social media, showing people sitting instead on the ground.

German politician, Christiane Schneider of the hard-left Die Linke, posted a picture on Twitter using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter she claimed showed a police water cannon ready for deployment against the crowd.

The demonstration was registered under the motto “Justice for Floyd – stop killing blacks – stop the racial terrorism in the USA’’.

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Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Trump directs United States troops reduction in Germany: media

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United States President Donald Trump directed the Pentagon to reduce United States military presence in Germany by September, United States media reported on Friday.

Citing United States government officials, The Wall Street Journal said in a Friday piece that the move would reduce 9,500 troops from the 34,500 troops that are permanently assigned in Germany.

The move also limits the size of United States troops deployed in Germany at any one time at the 25,000-troop level. According to the report, overall troop levels under current practice can rise to as high as 52,000 as units rotate in and out or take part in training exercises.

The report came days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said due to the coronavirus pandemic, she will not attend the Group of Seven (G7) Summit that initially scheduled at the White House in late June.

A person familiar with the matter was quoted as saying that the troops’ reduction plan had been discussed within the administration for months and was not linked to Merkel’s decision on G7 Summit.

The reduction plan might further strain the relations between Washington and Berlin. The two allies have been at odds with each other on Iran nuclear issues, Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, and defense burden-sharing, among others.

(XINHUA)

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Germany’s GDP to shrink by 7 pct in 2020: central bank

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Germany’s total economic output would shrink by seven percent in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, forecasted on Friday.

After a decline in 2020, Germany’s real gross domestic product (GDP) was expected to increase again by three to four percent annually over the next two years. “The German economy will recover following a deep recession in the second quarter of this year,” according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

Germany’s economic output had seen an “exceptionally sharp drop” in the first quarter of the current year, Deutsche Bundesbank noted. However, the German economy had already “bottomed out” in April and was starting to recover.

The recovery of the German economy would initially remain subdued because the negative effects caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain new infections would diminish only gradually, according to Deutsche Bundesbank.

The forecast was finalized after the latest economic stimulus package was announced earlier this week by the German government. As a result, the economic outlook was now “noticeably more favorable,” Deutsche Bundesbank noted.

The state aid, worth 130 billion euros (147 billion United States dollars) for the years 2020 and 2021, includes a reduction of the value-added tax (VAT) from 19 percent to 16 percent until the end of this year, which alone would cost around 20 billion euros, according to the government.

“Further stimulus is also appropriate in light of the current situation, and I welcome the economic stimulus package,” stated Jens Weidmann, head of the Deutsche Bundesbank, adding that government finances were making a “substantial contribution to stabilization.”

(XINHUA)

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German gov’t supports local fleece manufacturer to boost face mask production

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The German government subsidized the expansion of fleece production by local company Innovatec in order to boost production of face masks in the country, Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) announced on Friday.

“We intend to significantly expand our production capacities for protective equipment in Germany and thus effectively reduce our dependence on imports,” said German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier when handing over the first notice of funding for fleece production.

Innovatec would invest more than 11 million euros (12.5 million United States dollars) in two new units for fleece production and could manufacture an additional 1,500 tons of fleece in the future, enabling the production of more than 1.5 billion face masks, according to BMWi.

The program was aiming to stimulate an additional fleece production of 4,000 tons per year. However, Altmaier stressed that “our long-term goal is to cover the entire value chain, from machines to filter fleece and protective masks.”

(XINHUA)

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Filed bankruptcies in Germany see moderate increase: IWH

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With 1,019 companies in Germany filing for bankruptcy in May, insolvencies recorded a “moderate increase” of 53 companies compared to the previous year, the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) announced on Friday.

Although overall corporate bankruptcies in Germany remained almost constant, IWH found that an increasing number of employees was subject to employer bankruptcy.

The five largest German companies, which filed for bankruptcy in May, employed a total of more than 10,000 people, according to the IWH analysis. In the previous months, there had hardly been any company insolvencies that affected 1,000 or more workers.

“During the course of the financial crisis of 2008/2009, we also observed increasingly large firms filing for bankruptcy,” said Steffen Mueller, head of IWH department of structural change and productivity and the IWH bankruptcy research unit.

Beyond economic crises, IWH noted that large companies were generally in a better position than small companies to avoid insolvency through a timely implementation of restructuring measures.

In order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus crisis, the German government temporarily suspended companies’ duty to file for insolvency until the end of September if the insolvency was directly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a result of this law, it is possible that fewer insolvency applications will be received than usual at present and that these are not expected until autumn 2020,” warned Erik Geisler, vice president of a local district court in Darmstadt in March when the obligation to notify was suspended.

“Ultimately, the coronavirus crisis and the bankruptcies associated with it will be visible in increased job loss even if the bankruptcy numbers should stay moderate,” warned Mueller, who stressed that the current numbers would just reflect the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis.

(XINHUA)

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