Berlin (dpa) – Green leader Annalena Baerbock campaigns 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 also means talking about deployment abroad. It won’t be easy. But we must not shrink back. ‘
Although Baerbock was in favor of spending more on basic equipment for soldiers, he was skeptical about investing in major armaments projects. “In some areas you have to invest more so that guns fire and night vision goggles work,” she said. “But we also know how much money is being thrown out the window in the military budget.”
Baerbock rejected NATO’s goal that each member state spend two percent of its gross domestic product on defense. “We need to talk about strategic reorientation first and then spending,” she said. While she advocated a fair burden-sharing between Member States, she also said: “A theoretical target of two percent is not really helpful.”
The US has been criticizing Germany and other European NATO partners for years for lack of defense spending. That is unlikely to change after the upcoming change of power in the White House from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on Jan. 20.
The federal government has pledged to invest 1.5 percent of economic power in defense by 2024 – but no more for now. Not only the Greens and the Left, but also the SPD are skeptical about the 2 percent target. However, the Union wants to keep it.
Baerbock also spoke out for lobbying a new US government to withdraw nuclear bombs from Germany. “With the new US administration, there is hope again to talk about nuclear disarmament,” she said.
US President Barack Obama’s administration had already begun stronger disarmament efforts to move closer to a world without nuclear weapons. And yes, for me that includes the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Germany. We also need to talk to our allies about this, ”said Baerbock. “We cannot just say that we are returning the US nuclear weapons to the US.”
About 20 atomic bombs are said to have been stored at Büchel airbase in the Eifel, 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 are also calling for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons. The Union is firmly against it.
Criticism of Baerbock’s comments on defense spending came from the left. “The poor condition of equipment parts is not the result of the lack of billions, (…) but the result of poor planning and bad contracts, much to the delight of the arms industry,” said Group Chairman Dietmar Bartsch. “If anything needs to be upgraded, it’s our schools and health care reimbursement.”
The FDP’s defense politician, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said Baerbock’s proposals would mean the two percent target would have to be consistently implemented. “We don’t need theoretical suggestions, just practical ones,” she said.