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Germany

Politicians Divided Over Army Deployment for World Cup

As Germany prepares to host the soccer World Cup next year, security concerns are looming large. But it remains unclear whether the German army will take over security duties during the mammoth event.

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The German police is already gearing up to prevent fan violence

The German army's duties are unambiguously laid down in the constitution. Within Germany, the armed forces are only allowed to be deployed for defense or to counter a looming threat to the democracy of the federal republic or a state.

Further, the army may be deployed to protect civilian objects to support police measures. Such deployments however, require the support of both houses of parliament.

"Relieving a stretched police force"

Wolfgang Schäuble Innenminister

Schäuble has already raised an outcry with plans to tighten anti-terror measures


But new German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wants to go a step further by pressing the army into service to secure next year's soccer World Cup.

"During the World Cup, for example, our federal and state police forces will be very stretched," Schäuble told daily Süddeutsche Zeitung earlier this month, suggesting the army could be deployed during the finals, which take place in 12 German cities from June 9 to July 9.

"Why shouldn't we transfer security services temporarily to the armed forces from the police to relieve them," he suggested.

Germany's constitution, written in 1949 with the lessons of Nazi rule in mind, establishes strict separation between police and military. Under the Nazis, the line between the two became blurred, leading to a ruthless militarized police state.

Schäuble said armed forces could be used to guard stadiums, airports and team quarters.

"No one wants to see tanks in front of train stations or stadiums, this is completely absurd… Yet you can imagine what would happen if somewhere a bomb in a back pack would explode."

"Not the army's brief"

However, Schäuble's comments to call on the army in "exceptional circumstances" have met with resistance. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said on Tuesday he would be opposed to the army being deployed during the World Cup finals in Germany.

Bundeswehr Manöver European Challenge 2005 in Eckernförde

The presence of German soliders on the streets is viewed uneasily in Germany

"We should not have a discussion now about whether the army takes on police duties. That is not their brief," Jung told the Rheinische Post newspaper.

The military would, however, be pressed into service during the finals in the event of a catastrophe, Jung added, pointing to the work of soldiers in keeping transport links and electricity supplies functioning during heavy snowfalls in the heavily populated German state of North Rhine-Westphalia following Christmas.

Debate to continue

At the same time, both the parties in the ruling grand coalition -- the CDU as well as the Social Democrats (SPD) plan to further thrash out the issue of domestic deployments for the German army.

The coalition treaty signed by the two parties mentions that in light of new terror threats, foreign security can no longer be clearly separated from domestic security. The topic is expected to involve legal and constitutional clarifications.

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