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Germany

Grand Coalition Debates Domestic Use of Bundeswehr

The German government failed to agree on German military involvement in World Cup security following a meeting Monday. Time is running out to make the constitutional changes necessary for deployment next month.

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German soldiers on German turf are a contested World Cup issue

While the Christian Democrats still want to see the German constitution changed to allow for German troops to be used as an internal security force, the Social Democrats are vehemently against the plans. Opposition parties also disagree with constitutional changes.

SPD Secretary General Hubertus Heil said on Monday: "We want a strict division between internal and external security forces," he said. He added, however, that the SPD was open to discussions concerning air and marine safety.

Altering the definition of a security threat

The CDU's deputy parliamentary floor leader, Wolfgang Bosbach, said that changes must be made to the constitution so that German troops could be used to defend the public from possible acts of terrorism within the country.

"A country's security must be defined differently today than during the time of the Cold War, especially since internal and external security can no longer be so strictly divided," Bosbach told the Netzeitung online newspaper.

SPD defense expert Rainer Arnold rejected the use of German forces domestically and said the CDU had no chance of gaining a two-thirds majority in the Bundestag to change the constitution. "We tackle terrorist threats and attacks with political means," he said.

Opposition warns of a militarization

Ein Soldat der Bundeswehr

German troops may just be transporting medical supplies during the soccer tournament

The opposition parties -- the liberal FDP, the Greens and the Left party -- are likewise against the German army, the Bundeswehr, aiding police forces within German borders. The parties warned of a "militarization" of internal security forces.

According to the German constitution, the police are responsible for the country's internal security and order, and the army protects the country outside its borders.

The division, part of the country's separation of powers, is seen as especially important given the role the military played in acts of political suppression during Adolf Hitler's dictatorship during the last century.

Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung and Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said they have made up to 7,000 soldiers available to help during the soccer World Cup in June. The soldiers are only supposed to provide medical, transport and logistical support, and serve as specialists for dealing with nuclear, chemical or biological attacks. Defense ministry officals say such a mission would not infringe on the constitutional law preventing the Bundeswehr from domestic deployment.

Schäuble, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, is eager to relieve pressure on police by using troops to secure venues.

The German constitution forbids the use of the military within the nation's borders unless there is a special crisis or catastrophe.

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