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Olaf Scholz: NATO partners can 'rely on Germany'

June 22, 2022

In a speech ahead of key summits, the German chancellor has told parliament that "we will defend every square meter of NATO territory." He also described a partnership with Russia under Vladimir Putin as "unimaginable."

Plenary session in the Bundestag in Berlin Olaf Scholz Chancellor
Scholz said NATO partners in eastern Europe could rely on Germany Image: Christian Spicker/IMAGO

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday told the German parliament, the Bundestag, that members of the NATO alliance could rely on Berlin.

With Russia's invasion of Ukraine top of the agendas for three major summits — of the EU, G7 and NATO — Scholz's speech focused on Berlin's support for NATO and Kyiv

What exactly did Scholz say?

In his speech, the chancellor stressed that Germany not only took responsibility for its own security, but also for that of its allies. He said this was underlined by a €100 billion ($107 billion) upgrade of the Bundeswehr agreed by both houses of parliament.

"Security is the most fundamental promise that a state owes its citizens," Scholz said, citing a turning point in history.

"The German armed forces will be equipped so it can protect our country and our allies against any attack," Scholz told the parliament. "That is the standard for the new Bundeswehr."

The chancellor also said Ukraine was getting the weapons it most urgently needed at the current phase of the war. He said the German government had decided to list all of the weapons it had already sent to Ukraine, as other NATO allies have done.

The speech came a day after Ukraine confirmed that it had received heavy weapons from Germany. Self-propelled howitzers, the Panzerhaubitze 2000, are the first heavy weapons sent by Germany to arrive in Ukraine.

Berlin had been accused of a slow response to Kyiv's appeals for arms, and slower deliveries of weapons that Germany had pledged.

Scholz said negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow remained remote, with Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently determined to unilaterally dictate the terms of any peace.

A partnership with Moscow is "unimaginable for the foreseeable future with Putin's aggressive, imperialist Russia," he said.

The chancellor also said the reconstruction of Ukraine would be a "task for generations," referring to the Marshall Plan, a US initiative that provided billions of dollars to rebuild Western Europe after World War II. He said he had invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the G7 summit starting this Sunday, to "agree on what such a 'Marshall Plan for Ukraine' would look like."

What's on the agenda for the upcoming summits?

Leaders of the 27 countries of the EU are meeting this Thursday. Their discussions are expected to center around the decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova EU candidate status, the first step in a long process to becoming members of the bloc. 

On Sunday, leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations convene to address aid for Ukraine and climate-related policies. 

On the agenda of the NATO summit next week, meanwhile, is strengthening the alliance's eastern flank, as well as the issue of Turkey blocking Finland and Sweden's membership bids

fb/kb (dpa, AFP)