Barack Obama has returned to Berlin for the first time as president of the United States, but the euphoria that greeted him as a presidential candidate in 2008 has long gone.
The recent revelations about the US National Security Agency’s global electronic surveillance, where German citizens were monitored has caused fury across the country.
Chancellor Merkel addressed the controversy: “ We appreciate cooperation with the United States of America in the area of security. But I made it clear that – taking into account the requirements of information gathering, the topic of proportionality of measures is important.
Our free societies exist on the premise, that our citizens feel secure, but the question of proportionality, of balance, is something, which we have to talk about, and we agreed to have an open discussion on that”
Obama, clearly on the defensive, said he was open to discuss the matter:
“We welcome these debates, that is what a democracy is about and I am confident we can strike the right balance, keep our people safe, but also preserve our civil liberties even in this Internet age.”
Demonstrations greeted the president’s arrival in Berlin and Germany’s biggest tabloid, Bild, mocked the man changing his winning “yes we can” slogan to “yes, we scan.”