Chancellor Scholz defends Germany’s foreign policy in VE Day speech
On Sunday, the 77th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addressed the nation, giving a speech in which he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and defended his government’s foreign policy.
Chancellor Scholz addresses the nation
Sunday, May 8 is celebrated across western Europe as “VE Day” - the day that Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied Powers in the Second World War. It represents the end of the war in Europe, the rebirth of democracy and the liberation of Europe from the Nazi regime. It seemed somewhat fitting then, that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz would address the nation to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Scholz warned that there would be "no peace under Russian dictatorship," saying that neither Ukraine nor Germany would accept Russian occupation and reiterating his belief that Vladimir Putin would not win the war. "Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and security will win the day – just as freedom and security triumphed over oppression, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago," Scholz said.
Scholz played to the occasion; remembering that Russia and Ukraine once fought side-by-side to overthrow Germany’s "murderous National Socialist regime." However, he also denounced Russia’s attempt to frame the conflict as a stand against Nazism. "Putin wants to overthrow Ukraine and destroy its culture and identity... [and] even regards his barbaric war of aggression as being on a par with the fight against National Socialism," Scholz said. "That is a falsification of history and a disgraceful distortion. We have an obligation to state this clearly."
Scholz addresses Germany’s foreign policy
In regard to the Russian invasion, Chancellor Scholz explained that four clear principles shaped his government’s foreign policy. First, he stated that Germany would not take unilateral action; “whatever we do, we coordinate closely with our Alliance partners," he said. Secondly, the chancellor insisted that Germany would work to maintain its defensive capabilities.
"Thirdly, we will not do anything that could inflict more damage on ourselves and our partners than on Russia," Scholz said. "And fourthly: we will not take any decision that makes NATO a party to the war. We stand by these principles."
However, Scholz refused to give in to the growing call to quickly move away from Russian natural gas imports, saying that Berlin was "not simply doing all the things that some people are calling for." "For in the oath I took upon assuming office, I swore to protect the German people from harm. That includes protecting our country and our allies from danger," he said.
German president condemns Ukraine war
Earlier on Sunday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke at the opening of the national convention of the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) in Berlin. He took the opportunity to reflect on the importance of May 8, a day which he said was a day of hope, as well as commemoration. "But today, on this 8th of May, the dream of a common European house has failed and been replaced by a nightmare," Steinmeier said, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a "brutal, illegal war of aggression."
He called the war an “epochal turning point” and blamed Vladimir Putin for "once and for all destroying the basis of the European blueprint for lasting peace that we created after the Second World War and the Cold War.”
Steinmeier referred to Germany’s reliance on Russian fuel, saying, "the best price on world markets should not be the only thing to determine with whom one does business."
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