The final speaker of the night, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, also discussed reunification as a huge positive event, but also as a way to explain his countrys uneven GDP (gross domestic product) growth. "We were fortunate enough to see German reunification, and the task we had to face up to was on a state and government level, and on an economic and societal level." But reunification is not complete yet"only about 50 percent of where we have to go." And that translates into another 15 years of economic drain.But rather than complain, Schroeder looked at this rebuilding as an area of strength. "Every year, we transfer this money from east to west. No other economy in the world has to do that, and very few economies in the world could do that." However, Schroeder and the other three speakers also spent much of their allotted time apologizing for Germanys shortcomings. Second speaker Willi Berchtold, president of the German Association for IT, was blunt as he addressed not the crowd, but Chancellor Schroeder directly. SAP is restructuring its executive board to realign software development and product innovation into separate camps. Click here to find out more. "We need a greater sense of urgency" in adopting new technologies, he said. He focused on a digital ID card, a universal health card and, "above all, deploying new media in our schools." He also was vocal about what Germany didnt need. "We dont need copyright levies on PCs. We dont need depreciation periods for software, and we dont need license fees on cell-phone usage." That last item elicited a thunderous round of applause. Kagermann, too, spoke directly to the chancellor. "In Europe, we spend less than a third of the money on research" compared with the United States, he said. "We need an adaptation of the educational policy, teaching and more." Schroeder responded to his critics directly, promising that regulations would not deteriorate Germanys competitive position compared with other countries. He reiterated, though, that "there is a right to intellectual property, and we have to pay for the use of that property." But Schroeder used his time not to focus on technology but to highlight world instability, and how it could negatively impact Germanys economy. He focused on three key areas, all centered in the Middle East:
Raw materials: "A one-dollar increase per barrel increases the German cost by one billion euros. Political stability in the Middle East is of huge consequence for us."
Iraq: "Regardless of ones opinion back then on the military conflict, whats important is stability and supporting the democratic development of the country."
Irans nuclear weapons: "We want to conduct negotiations to convince the Iranians that they should forgo production of nuclear weapons. The U.S. is expressly supporting us, and we must make this a success for political and economic reasons."
Suddenly, Hannovers Congress Center seemed more like a meeting of a parliament than a gathering of geeks. Schroeder quickly wrapped up by saying, "Its a great pleasure for me to declare CeBIT 2005 open," and we all repaired to the basement for beer and snacks.
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"It cost us money; it cost us growth," Schroeder said. "Every year, we spend 4 percent of our gross domestic product, 80 to 90 billion euros, on tasks we have to do in the east."