Criticism of quote: Baerbock against the Internet, or: If both sides don't cover each other with glory

The resignation of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is being demanded on Twitter, the hashtag for this is even a top trend in Germany at the time of writing</p>Baerbock was at a panel discussion in Prague on Wednesday and spoke there about the Ukraine war.

Criticism of quote: Baerbock against the Internet, or: If both sides don't cover each other with glory

The resignation of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is being demanded on Twitter, the hashtag for this is even a top trend in Germany at the time of writing

Baerbock was at a panel discussion in Prague on Wednesday and spoke there about the Ukraine war. In the social networks, the following sentence, which she recited in English, is being slapped around her ears: "If I promise the people in Ukraine that we will stand by you as long as you need us, then I want to keep it , no matter what my German voters think, but I want to stick to what I promised the people of Ukraine." Once also in the English original: "If I give the promise to people in Ukraine, we stand with you as long as you need us, then I want to deliver, no matter what my German voters think, but I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine."

An excerpt from the event showing this sentence was shared thousands of times via Twitter, including by accounts that are on the Russian side of the argument in the Ukraine conflict. German secret services assume that Russia is using bots to create atmosphere in social networks. Now Peter Ptassek from the Federal Foreign Office shared a screenshot of one of the distributors, who calls himself the "Central Investigation Office" on Twitter, and wrote: "The classic: a video edited together in a meaningful way, boosted by pro-Russian accounts and the instant cyber court is ready, disinformation off the shelf. Whether we can be split so cheaply? I don't think so."

So much for the event.

From what we know, it is very likely that Russia is deliberately disinformation in social networks, including in German. It is also very likely, if only because of the long range, that in this case, too, among the propagators are those that are controlled from Russia. [My colleague Ellen Ivits will tell you more about this here.]

Nevertheless, the Federal Foreign Office is overshooting the mark here when it wants to dismiss the criticism of Baerbock's statements as clumsy Russian disinformation. That's too easy to do. The harsh accusation of disinformation should be made when really false, manipulated things are circulated. However, Baerbock did say that she would like to stand by her promise to the Ukrainians, "regardless of what my German voters think". This sentence was written in such a way that it was not distorted and not excessively "taken out of context". And it's an unwise sentence for a Secretary of State.

In my eyes, she wanted to make it clear that she wanted to stand by her word out of conviction, out of an attitude. But that's my interpretation, others may understand it differently. Add the slightly derogatory hand movement and the PR is at least bad. A German politician who appears to put foreign interests ahead of her constituents is fodder for reactionary forces.

But, and this is a big but, the excitement on the other side is just as overblown. Yes, this sentence is unwise and you can criticize it. But if you want to do it right, then you're welcome to watch Baerbock's entire performance. She also talks about the worries and fears of Germans about not being able to pay energy prices in winter. She explains how you have to help with relief so that the sanctions can be maintained and that there is a lot of convincing to be done.

So to accuse her of not caring about her German voters is at least unfair. The demand for a resignation almost ludicrously exaggerated. However, calls for the resignation of politicians are a trend on Twitter. As a rule, these demands disappear again as quickly as they came.

The fact that Baerbock did not express herself wisely in this one sentence can also be explained, at least in part, by her expandable knowledge of English. The lack of eloquence in a foreign language can sometimes lead to the fact that one expresses oneself unhappily. Of course, that's not a reason to resign. But the Foreign Office would be well advised to take criticism seriously and not fobb it off with a blanket and arrogant accusation. This really pushes the division forward, which the author, bizarrely enough, the Ministry Commissioner for Strategic Communications, actually denounces in his tweet.

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