Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has come under criticism for a statement on the war in Ukraine. At the Catholic Day in Stuttgart, Scholz raised the question of whether violence should be fought with violence and whether peace can only be created without weapons. Scholz published an excerpt of his speech with these two questions on Twitter. “We should discuss both with respect. But one thing is clear: we stand by Ukraine so that violence does not prevail as a means,” he said on his account.
Several CDU politicians criticized the questions. The member of the Bundestag Johann Wadephul commented on Twitter with the words: “As if THAT was still to be discussed! That’s why he said ‘time change’.” The CDU federal manager Stefan Hennewig expressed a similar opinion: “Well, if you consider what support for Ukraine, for our freedom and against violence would still be possible … that seems like empty chatter.”
Dennis Radtke, who sits in the European Parliament for the CDU, recommended Scholz to strive for “a career as a lay preacher”. “In the office of chancellor, Scholz will no longer work. Theologians can and must discuss these questions controversially, but a chancellor must see things clearly and act accordingly,” Radtke wrote on Twitter.
Scholz’ statements also attracted international attention. Human Rights Foundation chair Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov tweeted: “Yes, Putin’s war raises many questions. Where are our loyalties? What does the EU stand for today? anything? Or is she dead? Why is Scholz slowing down aid while the news from Ukraine is getting worse and Russia is talking about taking the whole country again?”
Others, in turn, defended Scholz. Tarik Abou-Chadi, Professor of European Politics at the University of Oxford, pointed out that the Chancellor had asked the questions during an event organized by the Catholic Church.
“Its intention is to show respect for an inherently pacifist position. Of course, the German government agrees to the use of force as a means of defense,” said Abou-Chadi.
In fact, Scholz made it clear in his speech at the Catholic Day that Germany was on the side of the victims of the war of aggression. He followed the questions with the statement: “My position on this is clear. We have decided to stand by the victim of this war of aggression, so that injustice does not triumph over right, so that brute force does not prevail as a political tool.”
Putin’s war is directed against a peace order that arose from the commitment “Never again” after two devastating world wars, said the Chancellor. The Russian President wants to go back to the law of the strongest. It was “very, very clear: Putin must not get away with his cynical, inhumane war.”
Therefore, in addition to tough sanctions against Russia, there is also humanitarian, economic and financial support for Ukraine. “And therefore also the delivery of weapons to such a war zone – something that we have never done as a Federal Republic,” said Scholz. This raises politically, ethically and personally difficult questions that need to be discussed.