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Scholz vows progress and a modern Germany

The new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz plans to modernise Germany, he has told the Bundestag, during his first government statement outlining the guidelines for the coming four years of his coalition.

He told the German parliament on Wednesday that his coalition wants to create “a modern Germany” in the coming years.

“The government that now begins its work under my leadership will be a government of progress,” Scholz said.

He held out the prospect of a government of social, societal and cultural progress, but emphasised above all technical progress. This is the only way Germany can become climate neutral and keep up with global competition, he said.

The chancellor added that the “power of progress” was particularly evident in the pandemic, noting that the coronavirus vaccine developed in Germany has saved the lives of millions of people worldwide.

The BioNTech vaccine is thus “the best proof that smart progress, smart innovation and smart modernisation make the world a better place.”

Scholz also sought to reassure Germans that the pandemic could be overcome. “Yes, things will get better again, yes, we will fight the battle against this pandemic with the utmost determination, and yes, we will win this battle,” he said.

December, with its dark days, was dampening the country’s mood, he said, noting the absence of lively Christmas markets and convivial Christmas celebrations.

“I am aware that in these days it is sometimes difficult not to lose courage.” No one is really doing well at these times, including himself, he said. “I know that keeping your distance and being happy go badly together.”

He called on citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19. “The situation is difficult, but the solution is obvious.”

Last winter, he said, the top priority was to reduce contacts. Now, regular tests and reducing contacts are in order, Scholz said.

“But most importantly, everyone can and should get vaccinated. That’s how we’re going to get past the fourth wave.”

The centre-left Social Democrats, the Greens and business-friendly FDP signed their 177-page coalition agreement at the beginning of December, some 10 weeks after the federal election.

Scholz was elected by the Bundestag as the ninth chancellor of the Federal Republic last week.

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