Church Calls for Transparency in Arms Exports | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 13.12.2005
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Church Calls for Transparency in Arms Exports

In the Joint Conference Church and Development's annual report on arms exports, the GKKE, criticized both Germany's continued sales of weapons to developing countries and trouble spots -- and its lack of transparency.


Germany doesn't mind exporting arms to trouble spots

The report presented in Berlin revealed that seven years of a Red-Green coalition government has left Germany the world's fourth busiest arms exporter after Russia, the US and France.

Export licenses might have fallen from 4.8 billion euros ($5.7 billion) to 3.8 billion euros between 2003 and 2004, but they still far exceed the figures of the previous decade, when Germany was led by CDU Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

"The SPD-Green government failed to keep its promise to reduce weapons export," said GKKE President and Catholic Prelate Karl Jüsten. "The balance is disappointing."

Co n tradictio n s

In 2004, Germany exported some 3.8 billion euros worth of weapons. In keeping with German habits of recent years, some 1.2 billion euros worth of arms -- approximately one third of German export licenses -- went to states that also receive development aid.

Jugendliche Kämpfer im Kongo spielen mit Waffen

Weapons and aid don't mix

"Arms sales jeopardize the chances of effective aid and often stand in stark contradiction to the German government's stated development policy aims," Jüsten said.

Moreover, Germany's 900,000 euros worth of weapons exported to China last year suggest the EU's 16-year-old arms embargo against China is, as Jüsten said, a "patchy" one.

Other destinations included conflict regions such as the Middle East, while two thirds of Germany's arms exports head for the US.

Mystery of missi n g figures

Little looks set to change under Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We noted with dismay that the recent coalition negotiations barely addressed the question of arms export," said Protestant church representative Stephan Reimers. So far, the new government has refrained from agreeing any restrictive arms export policy.

The GKKE report is based on figures made available by the EU rather than the German government -- which has yet to publish its annual arms export report.

Calls for tra n spare n cy

In 1998, the Foreign Ministers of the 15 European Union Member States adopted an EU Code of Conduct on arms exports, aimed to set common standards for the management of and restraint in arms exports from the EU, which is a politically binding agreement under which Member States agree to abide by certain criteria when granting arms export licenses.

Israelischer Panzer, Nähe Rammallah

Arms sales - a cloudy issue

"At a European level we have attained a satisfactory level of transparency, which the German government falls far short of," said Bernhard Moltmann from the Hesse Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research, pointing out that decisions relating to arms exports are taken behind closed doors by the German security council.

"Parliament needs to play a more active role when it comes to export licenses," he said.

And Reimers added that the fact that a report on arms export in 2004 has yet to be published by the government "is in clear contempt of both the parliament and the public."

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