Annalena Baerbock would like to talk frankly and freely, and in Prague she did it – again. The sanctions against Russia for attacking Ukraine would remain, “regardless of what my German voters think”. This sentence is honest. But he’s also annoying.
With her most recent statement, Baerbock shows that the fear revealed by Germany’s Foreign Minister of a “popular uprising” in the autumn was not a blunder.
And it also shows that the traffic light coalition is nervous, and rightly so. Germany is heading for record inflation of more than 10 percent and, as a reminder, this was partly responsible for a German head of government losing his job once before: Willy Brandt in 1972.
That’s why Chancellor Olaf Scholz has just promised quick and targeted help for the citizens, that’s why Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner has announced a “heavy” bundle of money. It’s supposed to be tied up this weekend.
And it’s already clear: After that, more people will be dissatisfied than satisfied, because the German state will certainly not be able to fully allay the fears of loss among its citizens. The state cannot subsidize fuel prices of 2.50 euros. Hence the concern that this autumn will not only be uncomfortable for politicians, but even riotous.
But Baerbock’s statement is also honest in another respect: the citizens know the connection between the sanctions against Russia and the arms deliveries to Ukraine on the one hand, and their wallets on the other hand very well. That’s the concern that’s driving politicians in Berlin, no matter who you talk to: How long will it be before war-weariness turns into anti-Ukraine sentiment?
After all, it is no coincidence that a top politician from the ranks of the coalition parties, Wolfgang Kubicki, suggested putting the Russian pipeline Nord Stream 2 into operation – sanctions or not. Now you have to know: FDP man Kubicki is not only an expert in breaking taboos, but also an expert on popular issues. Almost everyone, especially from his own party, has contradicted Kubicki. But his stone lies in the water and makes waves. And that was his goal.
The liberal assumes that many people think like he does, especially in East Germany there is a widespread mood to rely on a negotiated solution to the Ukraine war, which means nothing more than accepting a peace that Ukraine will cede to territories would have to pay. Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer recently got involved in this direction.
Baerbock takes the opposite view, and she’s now gone a step further, maybe a step too far. She not only pledges help to Ukraine, as almost everyone in the traffic light and bourgeois opposition is doing, for as long as this country needs it, but she will “deliver” (“I will deliver”) even if sentiment turns against her .
It doesn’t matter “what my voters think”. A sentence full of arrogance. The self-centredness of the Foreign Minister’s entire statement is also irritating. It seems as if she is on a personal campaign, as if it were not primarily about German interests but rather about keeping a promise she had personally made.
In doing so, however, and this is where the arrogance lies, the Greens claim the Germans as a whole for their opinion. As if it were the population’s duty to obey their foreign minister. The claim to absoluteness that is hidden behind this position by the Foreign Minister does not bode well for the politically fierce debates this autumn.
A minister should unite, not divide. But Baerbock’s statement polarized, of course there is already an accusation in the social media, where there is blunt talk, that Baerbock is violating her oath of office, which she swore to the benefit of the German people.
Baerbock – like Scholz and Lindner and Friedrich Merz – is of the opinion that it serves German interests to help Ukraine financially, humanitarian and also militarily because: Ukraine is waging a quasi-proxy war against the Russians, for the West as a whole.
I personally agree, especially since there are enough Russian threats to march right through to Berlin. You can’t just dismiss that as crazy. Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov have repeated more than once that the Russian war aims will remain in place, and they stipulate that the Americans should get out of Europe. Then not only the Germans would be defenseless at the mercy of the Russians.
For me this connection is clear, but in a democracy it must be possible to represent an opinion other than this.
Baerbock sentence by the voters, whose opinion she is indifferent to in case of doubt, reveals an unconditionalism that was previously only known from people who believe they have a right to be able to stick to the streets. Baerbock thus reveals an understanding of office that does not do justice to her responsible job.