Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has called for perseverance in German support for Ukraine. “This war is probably not over any time soon,” said Scholz on Saturday in his speech at the SPD federal party conference in Berlin. It is therefore important “that we are able to do what is necessary for a long time”, namely “continue to support Ukraine in its defense struggle”.
With its attack on Ukraine in 2022, Russia “terminated all understanding about peace and security in Europe,” said Scholz. There must be clarity that “borders in Europe will no longer be moved by force.” Germany must even be prepared to have to do even more "when others weaken," said the Chancellor, apparently alluding to the unclear political situation in the USA before next year's presidential elections. Therefore, there must be decisions on the German side “so that we are able to do this.”
Scholz also expressly committed to further military support for Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot expect us to let up,” he emphasized. Scholz also referred to the economic consequences of Russian imperialism - for Germany, and even more so for some other countries. “We know that there have been consequences that also affect us,” said the Chancellor, referring to the high energy prices. He emphasized that the government had nevertheless managed to ensure a good energy supply, even if this was of course "a major financial challenge".
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In the negotiations to resolve the budget dispute, Scholz categorically rejected cuts in the social sector. The Federal Constitutional Court's ruling presents the traffic light government with "a very difficult task," said Scholz. But it was very clear to him in the discussions with the FDP and the Greens: "In such a situation there will be no dismantling of the welfare state in Germany," the SPD politician promised. The welfare state is one of the greatest achievements that Germany has achieved. It is part of the country's DNA, its self-image, that no one is given up. That is the basis of prosperity, says Scholz
The traffic light coalition has been struggling for weeks to find a solution for the 2024 budget. As a result of the Federal Constitutional Court's budget ruling, 17 billion euros are missing. In addition to the opposition Union, the coalition partner FDP has also called for cuts in the social sector against this background. Scholz did not comment specifically on the status of the talks with the coalition partners. But he wanted to “give people the confidence that we will succeed.” It's not about solving "an unsolvable task," he said.
In his speech, the Chancellor strongly advocated the immigration of skilled workers. However, he did not repeat his controversial call for large-scale deportations of asylum seekers without the right to remain in front of the approximately 600 delegates. “As a country of immigration, Germany still needs the prospect of accepting those who are necessary for the growth and prosperity of this society,” said Scholz. He emphasized that just as irregular migration must be limited, immigration of skilled workers should also be encouraged.
In recent weeks, the government's migration policy has caused some discontent on the left wing of the SPD. It was particularly sparked by a sentence from the Chancellor in a "Spiegel" interview: "We finally have to deport on a large scale those who have no right to stay in Germany." Scholz did not repeat this demand. He completely left out the topic of deportations in his speech. The leadership of the Jusos had criticized the Chancellor's statement in the "Spiegel" as "straight from the vocabulary of the right-wing mob." Philipp Türmer, who has now been elected chairman of the youth association, wrote: "I could vomit at this quote." Türmer wants to take the lectern in the debate about Scholz's speech.
Against the backdrop of the Middle East conflict, Scholz condemned all forms of racism and extremism. Just as Germany does not accept "that anti-Semitic hatred is now being fomented, we now accept hatred of Muslims in our country," said Scholz. In his speech, Scholz reiterated his position on Israel after the brutal attack by the radical Islamic group Hamas. “Germany stands on Israel’s side,” he said. "We will support the country and we support the right to self-defense."
There was long applause from the delegates. Germany will continue to work for a lasting peaceful perspective for the Middle East region and a two-state solution, said the Chancellor. And Germany is fighting to ensure that the conflict is conducted “according to the rules that our international law provides for it.” This also means that the Federal Government is committed to providing humanitarian aid for the people in the Gaza Strip.
Juso boss Philipp Türmer urged the Chancellor to take more action in the traffic light coalition. “Dear Olaf, if you want to go on the defensive, you have to play attack,” demanded the chairman of the SPD youth after Scholz’s speech. “You are the head of the government, not Robert and Christian’s couple therapist,” he said, referring to Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) and FDP leader Christian Lindner. People wanted a chancellor who showed empathy, explained and, above all, made decisions – not a “moderator of power”.
The SPD far too often leaves the stage to the conservatives, even though they are in government. "Olaf, you once said that whoever orders a tour should get it. I hereby order it and we are urgently waiting for delivery," said Türmer. The SPD should not “just pretend” at its party conference while the citizens lose trust. Scholz must fight for the much-vaunted social democratic decade. “It has to be better than it is right now,” demanded Türmer.