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A look behind the scenes and lively discussions

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Open Day  A look behind the scenes and lively discussions

The Federal Government opened its doors for two days, and tens of thousands of interested citizens made the most of the opportunity to pay a visit to the ministries, the Chancellery and the Federal Press Office. In addition to insights into the day-to-day routine of politics, the programme included discussions on current issues.

7 Min. Lesedauer

Federal Chancellor Scholz on the Open Day

The Chancellor answered visitors’ questions at the Chancellery.

Foto: Federal Government/Kugler

The Federal Government’s Open Day on 19 and 20 August once again enabled people to see places that are otherwise not open to the public and obtain comprehensive information about the work done by the Federal Government. The employees of the ministries, the Chancellery and the Federal Press Office looked forward to engaging in dialogue with interested citizens.

An exciting and entertaining visit was ensured in all the buildings that opened their doors. In addition to exhibitions, children’s programmes and guided tours of the historic government buildings, the ministries offered a wide range of interactive information – from physical experiments in the BMBF to a simulated crash test at the BMDV.

This year’s Open Day was once again very popular. All in all, just over 104,000 visitors were counted over the two days.

Scholz answers questions in the Chancellery

The Chancellery was one of the government buildings to open its doors. The host was Federal Minister Wolfgang Schmidt, head of the Chancellery, who welcomed the visitors there on Saturday. One highlight for all football fans in the early afternoon was the talk with Philipp Lahm, tournament director of EURO 2024. 

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz was also present at the Chancellery on Sunday. In a one-hour on-stage chat session, visitors were able to ask the Chancellor about issues of particular concern to them. Short answers sufficed in some cases – such as when the Self-Determination Act would be introduced. “Next week,” said Scholz tersely. Other issues were more complex, ranging from domestic politics and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine through to climate policy.

Justice – the main motivating force

Asked what motivated him to get up in the morning, the Chancellor stressed that he – like many others – was concerned with making the world a better place. Justice had been the central concern for him ever since he had been politically active, he said.

Scholz emphasised that the Federal Government had ambitious plans but had achieved a lot already, too. In the area of social policy, for example, the statutory minimum wage has been raised, housing benefit has been increased, the citizen’s allowance has been introduced, child benefit has been increased, the child supplement has been expanded and a stable pension level has been ensured. He said he was pleased that the lowest fifth of the population was currently benefiting the most from these measures, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

Talking about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, the Federal Chancellor said that Germany was now the world’s second largest supporter of Ukraine after the USA. Scholz said that Russia wanted to annex Ukraine, was destroying cities and infrastructure and was responsible for immeasurable suffering and many deaths – not least that of its own soldiers. At the same time, he said, it was right for Germany to carefully weigh each individual decision and consult with its allies. It was also good to know that there were many Russians who were supporting freedom in Russia or abroad and taking a stand against imperialism, he said.

Watch the Chancellor’s on-stage chat session in this video.

Discussion sessions at the Federal Press Office

At the Federal Press Office, a diverse programme was in store for interested visitors, including numerous panel discussions. Visitors were able to engage in conversation with Federal Ministers Svenja Schulze, Steffi Lemke, Marco Buschmann and Hubertus Heil, focusing on topics such as climate protection, immigration of skilled workers and disinformation.

Baerbock: “Foreign policy needs staying power”

Under the heading “A watershed moment in foreign and security policy”, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock answered visitors’ questions at the Federal Press Office on Sunday, too. Important points included the content of the National Security Strategy and the question of what feminist foreign policy meant.

Asked which conflicts she was currently particularly concerned about apart from the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Baerbock explained that there were a number of conflicts that people were forgetting about to some extent. For example, the situation of the Rohingya remained catastrophic, she noted. She also said she was very impressed by reports of North Korean women who had fled to South Korea via China – and had experienced terrible suffering during what had sometimes been a lengthy ordeal.

Complex issues to weigh up

“Foreign policy needs staying power,” stressed Baerbock, saying that if you thought something was right, it was important not to throw in the towel too quickly. The beauty of her job was that some things could change quickly, she said – even for the better sometimes. But there were always complex issues to weigh up, too, she said. One example she mentioned was Afghanistan: is it permissible for Germany to provide funds for humanitarian aid in the country, even though the Taliban banned women from working?

Buschmann: a turnaround is needed in the reduction of bureaucracy

Federal Minister of Justice Buschmann emphasised on Saturday during his chat session at the Federal Press Office that Germany needed “a turnaround in the reduction of bureaucracy” so as to accelerate processes. This also included expanding the authorities’ digital capabilities, he said. The fact that Germany was able to act quickly had been demonstrated by the rapid commissioning of the LNG terminals, said Buschmann. 

Government Spokesperson faced questions at children’s press conference

Government Spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit answered questions from children and young people at a special press conference. From sheer curiosity about the Federal Chancellor’s school grades to very serious topics such as the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine – the Government Spokesperson commented on a diverse range of issues. 

Some questions were directed at him personally – how he had hit on the idea of becoming Government Spokesperson, for example. He explained that it had not actually been his idea. Having first worked as a journalist, he had got to know Olaf Scholz, then First Mayor of Hamburg, via a roundabout route, said Hebestreit. After a number of other career stages where he had worked alongside Scholz, the latter had then asked him after the last Bundestag election whether he would like to take on this position, said Hebestreit, so, all in all, it was a coincidence that he was now Government Spokesperson – “but a good one”. What he liked about his job was that it was never boring, but always varied and exciting, he said.  

A lot of children and young people raised the issue of school and complained that it was not up to date in many things – such as digitalisation. Although schools were a matter for the federal states, said Hebestreit, the Federal Government also provided support in some areas. Even the Government Spokesperson did not always have an answer – to the question of why pizzas are round but pizza boxes are square, for example. Hebestreit admitted that he hadn’t yet given any thought to that particular question: with a wink in his eye, he announced that he would give an answer later.

The fight against disinformation: a task for society as a whole

Christiane Hoffmann, the First Deputy Government Spokesperson, talked about the topic of disinformation and fake news on Saturday. The rise of social media in particular had exacerbated these phenomena, she said. The Federal Government’s strategy against disinformation: monitoring, i.e. keeping a close eye on which false reports are currently spreading; debunking, i.e. revealing who is currently spreading what false information; and finally, making citizens aware of the phenomenon of misinformation and explaining how to identify disinformation. But there was only very little the government could do here, stressed Hoffmann. It was really a task for society as a whole to counter misinformation, stressed the First Deputy Government Spokesperson, adding that the media also had a key role to play in this connection.

Programme for families 

On both days, the Federal Press Office also organised a diverse programme for families: at supervised workshops, children of all ages were able to engage in sustainable hands-on activities. There were various stations where they could build Lego, explore the world of science or print bags, for example.