Klingbeil: “We should live up to the expectations they have placed on us”
Germany must develop a new role on the world stage as a “leading power”, the president of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), Lars Klingbeil, said on Tuesday, demanding that this country assume much greater responsibility in international politics. “After almost 80 years of moderation, Germany today has a new role in the international coordinate system,” Klingbeil stressed during an ideological intervention at a conference of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, close to the SPD. Europe must, in the competition for international relations, become at the same time the “most attractive center in the world” and to that end “Germany must have the right to be a leading power”, pointed out the leader of the Federal Chancellor’s party, Olaf Scholz.
“Germany is increasingly in the spotlight and we should live up to the expectations that have been placed on us,” commented the SPD president, who stressed that this country has earned a high level of international trust in recent decades, that entails the fulfillment of certain commitments. Due to its historical past as a country that unleashed the Second World War and submitted to the dictates of National Socialism, the Federal Republic has so far retracted as a middle power at the international level in security, defense and armament policy, a fact that must radically change. in the opinion of the head of the SPD. Klinbeil warned attendees that the war unleashed by the Kremlin will inevitably have effects on international politics for at least “the next 20 years.”
After the decomposition of the Soviet Union, the West felt “too sure” that a model of state and society would end up being imposed and that “a war between states in Europe was something unthinkable”, declared Klingbeil, for which Western countries they must now consider ‘what can we do better in the future’. The leader of the German Social Democracy said that it is now very important for Germany to strengthen its army, since the peace policy also means “considering military violence as a legitimate means of doing politics”, even when it must be considered as “the last means ‘, calling for a ‘completely new’ security policy debate in Germany.
Closing your eyes to reality leads to war. We are seeing it in Ukraine. For me, peace politics means considering that military violence is a legitimate means of politics,” said Klingbeil, who called for greater respect and recognition for the military in this country. Despite everything, he assured that his demands do not imply a rejection of the traditional pacifist policy of the German social democracy. The federal chancellors of the SPD in the 1970s and early 1980s, Willy Brandt and Helmut Schmidt, already knew that the basis of a firm peace policy is military strength and capacity, and “back then the defense budgets exceeded 3% of our GDP”, added the president of the oldest German party.
Lars Klingbeil recognized that this country has “made mistakes” in dealing with its partners in central and eastern Europe and of not having been able to interpret the signals coming from Moscow, most recently after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. « When we hear from the Baltic states or Poland that they are afraid of becoming Russia’s next targets, we must take it very seriously,” said the 44-year-old politician. In international politics there will be increasing competition for international relations with states like Russia and China in the coming years, said the head of the SPD, for which Europe “must acquire greater weight as a geopolitical actor”, since “Germany can only to be strong, if Europe is also strong’.
That is why he demanded that new relations and structures be created at the international level that “have greater value for all parties”, although always without forgetting the values of the West. “There can be no cooperation without a position,” the SPD president finally stated. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz largely distanced himself from the traditional German security and defense policy position in a speech to the Bundestag, the German parliament. He then highlighted the need for Germany to assume greater responsibilities at the international level and announced the approval of an extraordinary budget of 100,000 million euros to modernize and rearm the Bundeswehr, the federal army. However, the head of the German government has not so far gone as far as Klingbeil, nor has he ever demanded that this country assume a role as a “leading power” in the world.