Home>News Center>World

Ugly battles strain Berlin-Hamburg relations
Updated: 2005-12-11 10:49

BERLIN (Reuters) - A row between Germany's two biggest cities over attempts to snatch each other's businesses has degenerated into ugly name-calling and torn open historical rivalries that go beyond just another tale of two cities.

Local officials in wealthy Hamburg, home to many of Germany's corporate giants, have even warned Angela Merkel to stay out of their money-driven tiff while poorer Berlin, scarred by the Cold War, is begging the new chancellor for help.

"It's the battle of Berlin," read a recent headline in the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper. "It's Berlin vs Hamburg."

The fight erupted when Hamburg's authorities said last month that they had spent five months secretly negotiating with German railway operator Deutsche Bahn to lure its corporate head office and up to 2,000 jobs from Berlin to the northern port city.

Berlin, the capital, had previously done some of its own poaching, enticing Universal Music's German headquarters and gala award ceremonies away from Hamburg in 2000, as well as MME entertainment company and advertising firm Scholz & Friends.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit ripped into Deutsche Bahn chairman Hartmut Mehdorn, a Hamburg native, branding him "Rambo" because of the clandestine talks with Hamburg behind the back of the company's owner, the federal government.

"I was feeling fine until Mehdorn ruined my day," Wowereit said after learning of the secret talks. He said he was fed up with "Mehdorn the groveller" and vowed to fight any move.

"No one will stand in his way if Mehdorn wants to pack his bags and go to Hamburg," Wowereit said. "But the workers of the railways are staying in Berlin."

Hamburg has offered to sell its lucrative port at a knock-down price to Deutsche Bahn if the company moves.

Berlin leaders have accused Hamburg of "extortion" while officials in Germany's second city have threatened to block all legislation in the upper house of parliament if they don't get their way.

Local newspapers have joined the fray, claiming their respective cities have better weather conditions, better food, better museums, better zoos, better entertainment and even better brothels.
Page: 123

Vanuatu volcano bursts into life
Aid package for victims of Hurricane Katrina
Saddam absent as trial adjourned again
  Today's Top News     Top World News

Koizumi shrine visit blasted as Asian leaders meet



Nigerian jet crash kills at least 103



Wen ends Portugal visit, leaving for Malaysia



Substandard US medical donations rejected



Minister urges stronger Sino-US trade



ElBaradei, IAEA receive Nobel Peace Prize


  Iran reveals plans to produce nuclear fuel
  150 nations agree to future climate talks
  No word on hostages as deadline passes
  Thatcher 'cannot remember start of sentence'
  Australia signs ASEAN friendship pact
  Israel freezes Gaza agreement, demands better security border
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?  
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.