One year after Chancellor Olaf Scholz's (SPD) speech in the Bundestag, the opposition CDU is accusing him of missed opportunities. "The right words from Scholz's speech were not translated into a political program," said CDU foreign affairs expert Roderich Kiesewetter of the "Augsburger Allgemeine".
A few days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Scholz announced a change of direction in German foreign and security policy and a 100 billion euro special fund to modernize the Bundeswehr.
Spahn: "The Chancellor breaks his promises"
"The Bundeswehr has enormous deficits and the turning point has not yet begun for them," said Kiesewetter. "The squad has lost a year and is now more bare than at the beginning of 2022." Kiesewetter is referring to a social media post by army inspector Alfons Mais, who wrote on the day the war began: "The Bundeswehr, the army that I am allowed to lead, is more or less blank."
Union faction Vice Jens Spahn (CDU) told the "Neue Westfälische" that the Chancellor's speech was basically correct. "I thought that day: Wow, that can shape this chancellorship," Spahn recalls. "Unfortunately, the federal government was no longer able to maintain the flight altitude the following day. The chancellor is breaking his promises." So far, "almost nothing has been planned" from the Bundeswehr special fund.
According to Kiesewetter, Scholz assumed in his speech that Russian troops could conquer Ukraine within a few days and "then stand at the Polish border". But things turned out differently. "When you realized that Ukraine was successfully defending itself, that momentum flagged immediately."
Esken: "Germany will mature in terms of defense policy"
The SPD leader Saskia Esken rejected the allegations in the "Augsburger Allgemeine". The Chancellor's speech "contained a clear signal to our most important allies: Germany will mature in terms of defense policy," she said. In fast-moving times, it is then required that this process takes place "in real time". "Especially in defense policy, some things have to happen away from the public, even if I can understand that one or the other has a problem with it," said Esken.
No funds from the special fund were used in the 2022 budget year, but according to the Ministry of Defense around 30 billion euros are now planned. The armaments industry complained several times about the sluggish award of contracts. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD) announced on Sunday in the ARD program "Report from Berlin" that the armaments companies should in future receive advance payments for orders and not only be paid upon delivery. "We'll do that now in the future. Just to document that money is flowing out," said Pistorius.
He also reiterated his call for an increase in the defense budget: "One thing is clear, you have to emphasize that again, the 100 billion special funds are one thing, they will take another three years to be spent," he said. "And then it will be clear that we need more. Incidentally, even for ongoing operations." The Ministry of Defense's budget must grow significantly, "because otherwise we would not be able to carry out the tasks that we had not been able to carry out for 30 years."