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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Exchange of blows: Scholz defends paradigm shift

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Berlin (dpa) – About a month after the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended his decision to rearm and charted a new political course.

In the general budget debate in the Bundestag on Wednesday, he promised Ukraine more aid, but at the same time drew a clear line for NATO involvement. The opposition has made it clear that it wants to be more than just the majority pimp of the red-green-yellow government paradigm shift.

“The CDU/CSU parliamentary group is not the substitute bench from which you can bring substitute players onto the field in any way you want if you don’t have your own majority,” emphasized union faction leader Friedrich Merz as the opening speaker. of the general debate He spoke above all of the planned investment fund of 100,000 million euros for the Bundeswehr. The stoplight coalition wants to change the Basic Law and needs the votes of the opposition to do so. However, Merz emphasized that they would not write a blank check, but wanted a say in how the money would be used.

In a six-point catalog, he laid out the conditions for approval by the Union: the federal government must spend more than two percent of economic output on defense permanently and not just temporarily. The CDU and CSU wanted to have a say in the purchases through an accompanying committee. SPD leader Saskia Esken accused Merz on Twitter of not saying a word about the plight of people in Ukraine in her speech.

Scholz: It should be a “common cause”.

Scholz defended his plans, but also took a step towards Merz. It is completely fine that the head of the parliamentary group of the Union expresses his ideas, it will be discussed. “It must be a common cause that we do for our country,” the Foreign Minister stressed. He promised that all investments, guaranteed in the Basic Law, would benefit alliance and defense capabilities.

At the same time, Scholz assured that no concessions would be made in climate protection due to the war and its consequences. “Investments in defense and security that are long overdue are not made at the expense of urgently needed transformation to a climate-neutral economy or at the expense of good, future-oriented jobs, affordable energy, fair pensions and a efficient healthcare,” he said. emphasized. When it comes to climate protection, the motto should not be “Slow down now”, but “Now more than ever”.

Crises drive change

Scholz was impressed by how German citizens were dealing with this new crisis. That shows “how much good there is in our country,” he said. “Major crises are always an impetus for new beginnings and changes,” said the Chancellor. He mentioned the paradigm shift with arms deliveries to Ukraine, but also new paths in energy policy. The war in Eastern Europe acts as a magnifying glass: “Because it leads us to supposedly new priorities that are actually long overdue.”

Scholz assured Ukraine of the solidarity of the Federal Republic. “President Zelenskyy, Ukraine can count on our help,” he said. Germany has been supplying weapons and equipment since the beginning of the war and, together with its partners, has imposed insurmountable sanctions. These were having an effect and were also constantly sharpening.

However, the Chancellor gave a clear rejection of a no-fly zone controlled by NATO or NATO peacekeeping forces in Ukraine. It must remain true that there should be no direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. “NATO will not become a party to the war,” Scholz emphasized.

Call for the end of the war

He again called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine immediately. “Weapons must be silent, immediately,” Scholz said. “Putin needs to hear the truth about the war in Ukraine,” the foreign minister said. “And that truth is: the war is destroying Ukraine. But with the war, Putin is also destroying the future of Russia.”

Greens leader Katharina Dröge called on people to speak out about the atrocities of the war, no matter how unbearable the images and stories are. “The world must know the truth, because nothing fears Putin anymore,” she said. At the same time, the war is also forcing Germany to make new decisions, “and for us that includes the decision to invest in our own and European security.”

The leader of the FDP parliamentary group, Christian Dürr, also defended the planned investments of billions of euros. “The neglect of the troops was a historic mistake, and this governing coalition will now correct this historic mistake,” he said. It is also true that the coalition has broken a taboo and is supplying weapons to a conflict zone. The AfD, on the other hand, strictly rejected arms deliveries.

criticism from the left

The left accused the government of neglecting social investments. There are billions available to improve the Bundeswehr and at the same time one in five children grows up in poverty. The coalition is a burden to the people by not taking action against high energy and food prices. “Rarely have citizens lost so much purchasing power under a new government in such a short time.” Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) is simply the “asset manager of the super-rich”.

Scholz announced additional relief across the board, but has yet to name any specific measures. That is why the semaphore is currently fighting, now even at the level of the coalition leaders. Various supporting ideas are being discussed due to the high prices of refueling and heating. A coalition committee should bring a breakthrough on Wednesday night.

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