Outgoing German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has aimed a broadside at US President George W. Bush, saying Hurricane Katrina showed what happened when a state neglected its duty.
Schroeder made his comments in a speech to a trade union in Hanover on Wednesday in which he warned of the dangers of eroding the welfare functions of the state.
"People do not want the state in their faces, but they want it by their side." - Outgoing German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (Photo: AFP)
"I can think of a recent disaster that shows what happens when a country neglects its duties of state towards its people," said Schroeder, who will soon cede his post to conservative rival Angela Merkel.
"My post as chancellor, which I still hold, does not allow me to name that country but you all know that I am talking about America," Schroeder said to laughter and applause.
Schroeder fell out with Bush over the war in Iraq when he refused to commit German troops to the war and relations between the two leaders have remained chilly.
In another jab at the US president on Wednesday, Schroeder spoke of British Prime Minister Tony Blair as "my British friend, who also has other friends," in a reference to their alliance on Iraq.
Schroeder made the remarks to warn against Merkel's policies, which he says will change the nature of Germany's cherished welfare state and create a less humane society.
"People do not want the state in their faces, but they want it by their side," he said.
Three weeks after inconclusive national elections, he had agreed on Sunday to step down to allow Merkel to lead a left-right coalition of their respective parties.
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