AOn Saturday, the Greens will debate war and peace. As with nuclear power, this is about a piece of green identity, one of the party’s roots is the peace movement. There were 88 amendments to the text of the federal executive board, plus around twenty independent motions. But that sounds like more controversy than can actually be observed in the hall at Bonner Platz of the United Nations. This is also due to the fact that the wars in the world have been demanding the Greens since the 1990s and are forcing them to give more differentiated answers than pointing to a pacifist ideal.
Annalena Baerbock, the Foreign Minister, sets the tone for the debate. “We support Ukraine because we are a people and a peace party.” Working for peace, so the argument goes, cannot mean watching one country attack another, but solidarity and commitment, including military ones. In the late afternoon, a very large majority of the approximately 800 delegates voted for the position of the federal executive board. It includes a commitment to arms sales to Ukraine, to NATO and (with less enthusiasm) to the 100 billion German army program. “Now people come and say: We are so state-supporting,” says Omid Nouripour, the party leader who is submitting the motion. “Yes, of course, we carry this state. It needs someone to pull this cart and we, Alliance 90/Greens.” Thunderous applause in the hall.
Before that, the Applications Committee had done a great job. The vast majority of the motions had been dealt with, the central motion of the federal executive board was slightly modified in some points, motions were summarized or transferred to other bodies. When it comes to the vote, only a few Greens remain who did not want to be involved. This includes Karl-Wilhelm Koch from the Vulkaneifel, who has attracted attention at every Green party conference due to the large number of applications. He is campaigning for a peace conference on the establishment of neutral status in Ukraine, he warns of a nuclear escalation and calls for the Büchel air base to be dismantled.
Green vote openly
Koch says about the course taken by the federal government: “What would Heinrich Böll and Petra Kelly think? I think they would be rolling in their graves.” He warns that the Greens must not make themselves “completely unbelievable with the electorate”. Koch and his comrades-in-arms keep trying to enforce secret voting. That had already failed on Friday evening in the nuclear debate, and even now a majority of the party congress does not want it. Britta Haßelmann, the leader of the parliamentary group, argues that there is no pressure among the Greens.
Things could have gotten serious on one issue: arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The federal government recently approved arms deliveries to the country involved in the war in Yemen, despite the existing export ban. On Saturday, Baerbock repeated the official justification: It was a matter of deliveries as part of European joint projects, Germany had corresponding obligations. “It’s incredibly difficult for us,” she says and promises: “We don’t deliver directly to Saudi Arabia.”
A whole group of Greens did not want to be satisfied with that before the party congress. The member of the Bundestag Max Lucks and 107 other Greens, including many MPs, demanded clarification that the September approved arms deliveries worth 36 million euros to Saudi Arabia are in contradiction to the Green maxim. In addition, the Yemen clause of the coalition agreement should also apply to supplies for European joint projects. In the run-up to the party congress, there was a compromise. Saudi Arabia is no longer explicitly mentioned, but the text does add that arms exports are not an instrument of industrial policy. “We want a restrictive arms export control law that creates transparency about the licenses granted and their respective justification, as well as about the actual export of war weapons and armaments.”
At EU level, efforts will be made to create a binding regime for European arms export controls for joint armaments cooperation. Shortly before the party congress, the Federal Ministry of Economics had launched the key points for an arms export control law. So there is only one motion left for the vote in the matter of Saudi Arabia on Saturday, in which the withdrawal of the approval granted is demanded. Only a very small minority of delegates want that.