Bachelet’s nostalgic journey to the former German Democratic RepublicWeser Kurier, Bremen: When the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet arrives in Germany for her first visit to that country as Head of State today 17thOctober, she will not only have high politics on her mind. Her 4 day visit will partially be a nostalgic journey to the former German Democratic Republic. There she and her mother had found a safe resort in 1975 – two years after the coup of Augusto Pinochet.Her father, the Air Forces General Alberto Bachelet and Pinochet opponent had died following torture and today’s President and her mother had been arrested and severely mistreated, too.The GDR had not only hosted today’s President but had also enabled her to continue her studies in Medical Sciences. Following this she worked in Polyclinics in Potsdam and in Leipzig before she returned home in 1979. During her exile in East Germany she got married and had her first son. “The time I spent in Potsdam and in Leipzig have been a very happy time for me” she said in an interview with the weekly “Die Zeit”. “Chile feels deep thankfulness for the enormous German solidarity during the dictatorship, – from the Federal Republic as well as from the former GDR”, she added.Chancellor Angela Merkel studied nearly at the same time, not Medical Sciences, though, but Physics at Leipzig. 30 years later both of them are Heads of State, Merkel – according to “Forbes” – the number one among the 100 most powerful women in the world, Bachelet at the respectable position number 10. “This is an important indicator that equality and democracy are spreading”, Bachelet said. At Leipzig University she will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy. Otherwise GDR memories will only have little room since next to the time travel into her personal history solid political meetings will be on the agenda.Bachelet represents a country which is regarded to be the most stable democracy in South America. Bachelet considers the relationship to Germany as being “very good”. According to her Germany continues to be the most important export market for Chile in Europe and along with France, Spain and Italy she considers Germany to be one of the major export countries to Chile.
Chile, for example, is interested in German technology for energy production from biomatter, (“Biomasse2 in German) as well as solar and wind power. With regards to international politics Bachelet will have talks on the crisis considering the North Corean nuclear programme, the Middle East, the democratic process within the UN and the continuation of the Doha Talks.
Regarding home politics the 51 years old trained doctor has not always found things easy in her first 6 months in office. Her respected predecessor Ricardo Lagos had a patriarchical if not authoritarian style of ruling the country. Bachelet rather prefers to be “the mother” of the nation which the conservative Chilean society, mainly the men, still have to get used to.Kindly translated by Wolfgang
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