By Kyle James
Small Times Correspondent

HANNOVER, Germany, April 15, 2002 — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and other luminaries of German politics and business gathered here on Sunday to kick off Hannover Fair 2002, but high technology took a back seat to election-year politics.

The speakers took full advantage of the public forum to talk about their positions on domestic German political and economic issues. Any talk of technology — much less, small technology — was nowhere to be found.

The opening ceremony started off promising enough, with a rousing rendition of “In The Mood” by the 17-piece Sinatra Revival Orchestra. Hannover’s mayor, Herbert


German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
Opens Hannover Fair 2002 on Sunday night.
He spoke about foreign and domestic policy,
but hardly a word about technology.
Schmalstieg, took to the podium after the music died down. He said Germany is definitely in the mood for a successful trade fair this year, since the country’s economy has been in the doldrums and the fair often acts as a barometer for economic development. In the wake of last month’s successful CeBIT computer fair, he said, the indicators were good.

The Hannover Fair also acts as a meeting place between business and politics, Schmalstieg said. “The next few days, and especially this evening, will make that very clear.”

He wasn‘t kidding. Maybe he should have replaced “meeting place” with “boxing ring.”

This is an election year in Germany, with Schroeder facing a tough challenge by Edmund Stoiber, premier of the state of Bavaria, who is regarded by many to be the motor behind Bavaria’s high-tech boom and economic success.

The next speaker, Michael Rogowski, president of the Federation of German Industry, used his time on stage to air a litany of criticisms of government policies, from poor school performance to deposits on soda cans.

The lively version of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” that the band played next seemed somehow appropriate.

Then it was Siemens Chairman Hienrich von Pierer‘s time at the microphone. He hardly mentioned high tech at all, instead listing the ways businesses and open markets help communities and throwing barbs at Schroeder‘s regulatory ways.

When the chancellor did make it to the podium, high tech in Hannover had almost completely fallen out of the script. Instead, foreign policy issues like China and the Middle East took center stage, as did domestic concerns like immigration and reforming the German health system.

Small tech? That must have been at a different opening ceremony.

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