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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Diplomacy: Scholz receives a visit from the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”

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The Kingdom of Bhutan has less than 800,000 inhabitants – and still has a lot to offer that could interest the Chancellor. For example climate neutrality and gross national happiness.

A good two years after the establishment of diplomatic relations with Germany, a head of government from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has paid an official visit to Berlin for the first time. Prime Minister Lotay Tshering will be received by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the Chancellery on Monday. Bhutan is located between the two great powers of India and China in the middle of the Himalayas, has less than 800,000 inhabitants and is about the size of Baden-Württemberg.

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The Buddhist country with its more than 7000 meter high peaks, which is called “Land of the Thunder Dragon” in its own language, is one of the most isolated in the world. It only established diplomatic relations with Germany in November 2020.

Although Prime Minister Tshering represents one of the smallest countries in the world, he was received in Berlin in the same way as a French or American president on an inaugural visit: military honors in front of the chancellery, joint press conference with the chancellor after the meeting, a visit to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Bellevue Palace.

Unique selling proposition in terms of climate

Regarding the topics of discussion in the Chancellery, a government spokeswoman said in advance that “in addition to bilateral relations, the focus could also be on geopolitical and global issues”. In any case, the new partner country has one or two things to offer that could interest the chancellor.

It is the only climate-neutral country in the world. This means that at least as many climate-damaging gases are broken down as are emitted. Bhutan achieves this through huge forests that cover more than two-thirds of the country’s surface and absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The constitution stipulates that at least 60 percent must be forest. The heavily industrialized Germany has set itself the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2045 – above all by converting the energy supply to renewable energies such as wind, hydrogen or the sun.

Another special feature of Bhutan: the government does not measure the country’s prosperity solely by gross domestic product, i.e. by pure economic power. Since the 1970s, the decisive factor has been gross national happiness, an index established by the king at the time, which also takes other indicators into account: good governance, sustainable social and economic development, cultural promotion and environmental protection. In Germany, however, attempts to establish a national welfare index have so far largely come to nothing.

Source: Stern

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