Berlin (dpa) – Green leader Annalena Baerbock is campaigning for better basic equipment for the Bundeswehr and is open to new missions abroad.
It is time to respond to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for a sovereign European defense policy, she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “And that means talking about assignments abroad. It won’t be easy. But we mustn’t duck back. ”
Although Baerbock was in favor of spending more money on basic equipment for soldiers, he was skeptical about investments in large armaments projects. “In some areas you have to invest more so that rifles shoot and night vision devices work,” she said. “But we also know how much money is thrown out the window in the military budget.”
Baerbock rejected NATO’s goal of each member state spending two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. “We have to talk about strategic realignment first, then about spending,” she said. Although she spoke out in favor of a fair distribution of the burden between the member states, she also said: “A theoretical two percent target does not really help.”
The USA has been criticizing Germany and other European NATO partners for a lack of defense spending for years. That is unlikely to change after the upcoming change in power in the White House from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on January 20.
The federal government has promised to invest 1.5 percent of economic power in defense by 2024 – but not more for the time being. Not only the Greens and the Left, but also the SPD are skeptical of the two percent target. The Union, however, wants to hold on to it.
Baerbock also spoke out in favor of lobbying a new US government for the withdrawal of atomic bombs from Germany. “With the new US administration there is hope again to talk about nuclear disarmament,” she said.
The administration of US President Barack Obama had already initiated stronger disarmament efforts in order to come closer to a world without nuclear weapons. “And yes, for me that includes the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany. We have to talk to our allies about this too, ”said Baerbock. “We can’t just say we’re going to send the US nuclear weapons back to the USA.”
About 20 atomic bombs are said to be stored at Büchel Air Base in the Eifel, which are to be dropped by the Bundeswehr’s “tornado” fighter jets in an emergency. This is Germany’s contribution to NATO’s nuclear deterrent. In addition to the Greens, the leaders of the SPD also plead for a withdrawal of nuclear weapons. The Union is strictly against it.
Criticism of Baerbock’s remarks on defense spending came from the left. “The poor condition of parts of the equipment is not the result of missing billions, (…) but the result of bad planning and bad contracts to the delight of the arms industry,” said parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch. “If there is anything to be upgraded, it is our schools and health care pay.”
The FDP defense politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann said that Baerbock’s proposals would mean that the two percent target would have to be implemented consistently. “We don’t need theoretical proposals, but practical ones,” she said.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 201130-99-512397 / 5