“No military intervention in Syria!”

The International Diplomats Programme in Hamburg and Bremen

07/06/2012 - 08/06/2012 | 08:00 - 19:00 | | Invitation only


Helmut Schmidt had clear words to say about the crisis in Syria. The discussion with the former Federal Chancellor was one of the highlights of the excursion organized for those taking part in our in-service training programme for diplomats. The participants from the Near and Middle East, North Africa and Asia also explored with Helmut Schmidt global issues such as the power of the financial markets as well as more domestic issues like the rise of the Pirates Party.

The group’s first destination in Hamburg was City Hall. With Wolfgang Schmidt, a leading official in the Senate Chancellery, the diplomats discussed city partnerships, the fiscal pact as well as the conflicts of interest between the Federation and the federal states in this connection, and the important role played by Hamburg’s port in international trade. 

The participants were visibly impressed by Hamburg’s naturalization policy. People who are eligible for German citizenship receive a personal letter from the Mayor encouraging them to apply for German citizenship. New citizens are invited to an official welcome ceremony.

The media make mistakes, too

The group’s next stop was a visit to the news magazine Der Spiegel. The very frank discussion they had there with foreign desk chief editor Hans Hoyng focused on the learning process the magazine is currently undergoing with regard to balanced reporting on the islamic world.

The journalist admitted that Der Spiegel had also made mistakes, as when it described Auschwitz, , for example, as a Polish concentration camp. There had also been instances when, in talking about terrorism,  the term “islamic” had been used instead of ”islamist”. Today more attention is being paid to such matters. 

The group showed particular interest in the recent issue about the delivery of German submarines to Israel and the methods used by the magazine to obtain secret information. 

Participants were also fascinated to see the Airbus hangars and watch the work of building the planes actually in progress.

What has Germany to do with the Antarctic?

This and other questions about the work of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven were answered on the following day by Prof. Peter Lemke, Head of the Institute’s Climate Sciences Research Division. He described the process by which the ICCP draws up its world climate reports and complained that critics are wrong to regard the reports as political and non-scientific.

At the Friedrich Hustedt Diatom Study Centre the group learned more about diatoms and their importance for CO2 storage and the measurement of environment quality.

Visits to the Bremerhaven Economic Development Company Ltd. BIS followed, where the main focus was offshore-wind energy and the group had the opportunity to see wind farms in operation. The scepticism some participants had felt about their environmental compatibility was quickly laid to rest. The experts accompanying the group admitted, however, that the switch to green energy was going to take longer than the Government anticipated. 

The last stop of the excursion took the group to the Chamber of Commerce in Bremen. Executive Director Vokmar Herr explained the activities of the Chamber and pointed out the important influence it had on economic law-making.

The International Diplomats Programme is an initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the BMW Stiftung Herbert Quandt, implemented with the support of the DGAP. Every year twelve young diplomats from the Near and Middle East, North Africa as well as South, East and South-East Asia are invited to participate in a one-year programme (in English) that enables them to experience Germany from a variety of perspectives. For more information, please contact Ms Senta Höfer, senta.hoefer@diplo.de, 030 1817-4838 or Ms Sarah Hasselbarth, sarah.hasselbarth@diplo.de, 030 1817-1086.

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