The federal government rejected the call for a “national Ukraine conference” on Monday. The conference was requested by the chairwoman of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), in a letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) at the weekend. According to the FDP politician, representatives from politics and the Federal Chancellery, the armaments industry, the trade unions and the Bundeswehr should take part in the meeting.
The government apparently sees no need for this. Deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann did not want to comment on Strack-Zimmermann’s proposal on Monday. They would not react to the letter, she simply said.
The rejection found an aftermath in the evening on the short message service Twitter. One that once again illustrated the different positions in the governing coalition and their potential for conflict.
The SPD member of the Bundestag Ralf Stegner commented on a report about the statement by government spokeswoman Hoffmann with the words: Open letters from members of parliament are not, but “in reality press statements”. And Stegner added teasingly: “Experienced members of parliament know that, even if they have only recently belonged to a government faction.”
Strack-Zimmermann, who is also active on Twitter, reacted promptly: “Oh Mr. Stegner,” she wrote: “If only we would listen to new, inexperienced MPs like you, even if you are not as ‘long and experienced’ as I am in the Bundestag , then Ukraine would now have neither a government of its own nor a chance of self-defense.”
Stegner has been a member of parliament since the federal elections last year, before that he was a member of the state parliament and finance and later interior minister in Schleswig-Holstein. He belongs to the left wing of the Social Democrats and has repeatedly praised Scholz’s reluctance when it came to arms deliveries to Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war he has also been calling for a quick ceasefire.
The ex-minister responded to the head of the FDP MPs – and reprimanded them for their offensive nature and for their often clear criticism of the Chancellor’s Ukraine course. “As always boldly returned,” Stegner wrote, “but unfortunately, as all too often, just a hair’s breadth from the facts.” Every day he meets many citizens who share his opinion and appreciate Scholz’s “prudence”.
“I’ll give you some experienced advice,” Strack-Zimmermann replied. “Less arrogance and more constructive factual work, after all you have to lead a parliamentary committee of inquiry. In addition, less La Paloma whistle when you yourself are always in executive offices
“Touché,” replied the SPD politician ironically. “With so much constructive objectivity, I lay down my arms.”