Bundestag: Scholz: No negotiations "with the gun on the temple"

A good year after the Russian attack on Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) made it clear that he still sees no basis for peace negotiations.

Bundestag: Scholz: No negotiations "with the gun on the temple"

A good year after the Russian attack on Ukraine, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) made it clear that he still sees no basis for peace negotiations. "You can't negotiate with a gun at your temple - except about your own submission," he said in a government statement in the Bundestag on Thursday. "Love of peace does not mean submission to a larger neighbor. If Ukraine stopped defending itself, it would not be peace, it would be the end of Ukraine."

Opposition leader Friedrich Merz (CDU) put it in a similar way: "If Russia lays down its arms today, the war will be over tomorrow. If Ukraine lays down its arms today, the Ukrainian people and the Ukraine as a state will be finished tomorrow. "

"Never again war of aggression" instead of "Never again war"

Scholz urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine to end the war. At the same time, he promised Ukraine that he would not let up on military support. Creating peace also means taking a clear stand against aggression and injustice.

With a view to the demonstration against arms deliveries and for negotiations, which the left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht and the women's rights activist Alice Schwarzer had called for, Scholz said: "You don't create peace if you shout "Never again war" here in Berlin - and at the same time demands that all arms deliveries to Ukraine be stopped." Today, "never again" means that aggressive war must not return as a political tool. "Our 'never again' means that Putin's imperialism must not prevail."

Hardly any applause from the Union this time

Scholz titled his government statement "One year of turning point" and thus referred to his speech on February 27, 2022 in a special session of the Bundestag three days after the beginning of the war. "We are experiencing a turning point. That means the world after is no longer the same as the world before," said Scholz at the time, announcing a paradigm shift in German security policy. These included a 100-billion-euro program to upgrade the German armed forces and arms deliveries to Ukraine for defense against Russia -- breaking a taboo.

A year ago, Scholz received a lot of applause for his speech from the ranks of the CDU and CSU for his announcements. This time it was largely absent. The Union accuses him of the fact that the modernization of the armed forces is progressing slowly. According to the Ministry of Finance, not a cent of the 100 billion euro special fund has yet been spent in 2022. However, the Ministry of Defense points out that around 30 billion euros have already been planned. In his reply to the government statement, Merz asked Scholz: "What actually happened in the second half of 2022 that the promises you made were also implemented?"

Scholz confirms two percent target

Scholz rejected the allegations from the opposition. Germany had become "more resilient in the light of the turning point". "This becomes clearest when you look at the Bundeswehr. We're putting an end to the neglect of the armed forces." For this, Scholz earned loud laughter, especially from the ranks of the AfD.

The Chancellor reiterated that Germany wanted to permanently achieve the NATO goal of investing two percent of gross domestic product in defense. "The promise I gave here on February 27 last year is valid," he said. In 2022, according to official NATO statistics, the proportion was only 1.44 percent. According to internal calculations by the federal government, 1.6 percent is expected for the current year. In order to reach the two percent, the defense budget would have to be increased by 15 to 65 billion euros.

Praise for Baerbock - clear message to China

Scholz countered the reports of differences with his Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) by praising her twice - his new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) only once.

The Chancellor sent a clear message to China. "Use your influence in Moscow to urge the withdrawal of Russian troops! And don't deliver weapons to the aggressor Russia!" he said.

Scholz praised the fact that China's President Xi Jinping had "unmistakably opposed any threat of nuclear weapons or even their use in Russia's war against Ukraine". However, he called it "disappointing" that Beijing was no longer prepared at the most recent meeting of G20 finance ministers in India to reaffirm what had been the consensus at the G20 summit in Bali last year: "a clear condemnation of the Russian attack ."

Energy: Scholz sees "good cushion" for next winter

With the turn of the century speech, Scholz also initiated the decoupling of Russian energy supplies a year ago - among other things with the announcement that he would build long-controversial liquid gas terminals on the coasts. Germany no longer purchases gas from Russia. Nevertheless, one got through the winter well, said Scholz.

There had previously been talk of cold apartments, of entire branches of industry being forced to shut down, of production standstills, a "hot autumn" and "angry winter," said the Chancellor: "None of that happened." The gas storage facilities are currently more than 70 percent full. "It's a good cushion to get through next winter safely," said the Chancellor.