Ex-chancellor Kohl criticizes modern Germany as not "predictable"
German elder statesman Helmut Kohl has criticized his successors in a rare interview released Wednesday, saying Germany was no longer a "predictable factor" in world politics, and was becoming arbitrary, DPA reported.
The ex-chancellor, 81, who is in poor health, was speaking to Internationale Politik, a bi-monthly foreign policy journal.
Berlin has come under fire this year for straying from its western partners, most notably by abstaining from a UN Security Council resolution against Libyan ruler Moamer Gaddafi.
"For the last few years, Germany has ceased being a predictable factor, whether domestically or externally," Kohl said.
"We have to watch out that we don't gamble everything away. We urgently have to restore the old dependability."
Kohl said he hoped Germany and the European Union would "resume taking on responsibility" in the world.
"We must urgently stop thinking small and begin speaking again with one voice," he said.
The magazine released the interview two days before it goes on sale on Friday.
On the eurozone debt crisis, Kohl said the issues were manageable, but added that he had been against Greece joining the eurozone.
"If I had been chancellor, Germany would have not consented to Greece joining without thorough structural reforms," he said.
As chancellor from 1982 to 1998, Kohl was a strong supporter of the western political and military alliance and of EU integration.
He criticized the 2003 decision of Social Democratic chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to keep Germany out of the US war against the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as that of Chancellor Angela Merkel in March against a German intervention in Libya.
"We ought to resume making it obvious to others what we stand for and where we are going," said Kohl. Otherwise, Germany risked becoming "arbitrary and unpredictable."
Kohl pointed out that US President Barack Obama had skipped Germany during a recent visit to Europe, going to France and Poland instead.
"After everything that we Germans and the Americans have gone through together and the things that unite us still, I would never have dreamed I would see the day when an incumbent US president comes to Europe and flies over Germany or, you could say, passes it over."
He also criticized a return of nationalist right-wing sentiment in Germany and the abolition earlier this year of military conscription by the Merkel government.