German government shares responsibility for Europe’s disarray — Wagenknecht

Screen capture from video at source

Sahra WAGENKNECHT, Speech in the Reichstag, February 17, 2016
Translated from German by Tom Winter, March 18, 2016

Mister President! Dear colleagues, at least those who are staying in the room! Madam Chancellor, I think, it would be important to have a united and capable Europe, especially in the current tense international situation. 

In this sense, we too considered your efforts toward a European solution to the refugee problem as correct. But as I have heard – and in view of the very broad coalition of the unwilling, hardly astounding – you have given up this intention.

But not only in the refugee crisis, but also in many other questions, the EU is now almost synonymous with discord, crisis and decay. For this the German Government shares responsibility.

(Applause from the Left)

The European shambles is on the one hand, the shambles of neoliberal treaties and undemocratic and group-controlled technocracy, and on the other, the shambles of an arrogance that, as Mr Kauder has inimitably expressed it, wants to have All Europe speaking German. I think anyone who has seriously thought Europe would let itself be governed from Berlin, must not be surprised if he’s got the wind in his face.

(Applause from the Left)

There was a time when the vast majority of Europeans were linking European unification with their hopes for prosperity, peace and social security. Today’s EU is above all an EU of the economically powerful and the rich. 

Whoever violates the debt limitations, gets the blue letters from Brussels. But there aren’t any limitations on  poverty, or on youth unemployment, limitations which would commit to action. On the contrary, if a government, as the Portuguese or the last year the Greek, wants to make even a slight change because so many people are living in poverty, then Brussels comes down on them with a harsh intervention. Some other countries, that put everything down on offering companies tax savings, that will melt away tax income elsewhere get rewarded with top positions for their upper crust at the level of Brussels. 

Just about one fourth of all EU citizens now are living in poverty while the number of European billionaires has more than doubled since the beginning of the crisis. I have to ask you, is it any wonder that more and more people are turning their back on this kind of Europe?

(Applause from the Left)

Any wonder that the feeling is spreading that you can vote all you want, but the outcome is always just the same neoliberal policy? 

Any wonder that in these circumstances the nationalist parties are becoming ever more popular? We can think it’s awful, but we can’t think it’s surprising.

(Applause from the Left)

Even the British, who are opposed to the EU — as the polls indicate – are most especially concerned about the effect of immigration on wage dumping and on housing shortages. Therefore, it is truly absurd that Mr Cameron now requires as a precondition for Britain’s staying in the EU just further welfare cuts and a free rein for the financial center of London. It would be even more absurd to yield to such demands. That instead of stabilizing the EU, would just keep disassembling it.

(Applause from the Left)

And since now one has to have referendums to achieve anything in the EU, I wonder: Why aren’t all the people of the EU being asked? Why don’t you ask the people in Germany what they think of the neoliberal policies?

(Applause from the Left)

There is some evidence that even here, fewer and fewer want to live in a market-conforming democracy, in which employees get played against one another and the social inequality is getting ever wider.

A democracy-compliant Europe that safeguards rather than degrades the social contract, would be a project that could inspire people again for the European idea.

(Applause from the Left)

If you don’t want Europe to fall into Nationalism, then change your policies and build a social and democratic Europe. That is the only chance for Europe to survive. Otherwise, it will be no more.

(Applause from the Left)

We especially need to act in foreign policy. Mrs Merkel, you are shocked and horrified at the human suffering caused by the bombing. You said it in the context of Russian air raids on Aleppo.

(Manuel Sarrazin (Alliance 90 / The Greens): Is that right? You see it that way too?)

Well I agree with you: What is happening in and around Aleppo is brutal and barbaric.

(Applause from the Left)

The air attacks, the fighting and the bloodshed must finally be stopped – quite clearly and as quickly as possible.

(Applause from the Left)

But we find it quite amazing that your horror at the atrocities and barbarism of war only shows up when Russian planes drop their bombs.

(Grumblings in the SPD)

Do you really believe that dying under American, British or French bombs or from German Tornadoes is less grievous?

(Applause from the Left)

The West’s so-called anti-terror wars have wiped out at least 1.3 million lives – mostly civilians, wars which actually were always for raw materials and markets in the past decade and a half; 

wars in which Germany was indirectly or directly getting involved; 

wars, with which German weapons makers have made good business. 1.3 million deaths, untold millions wounded and displaced from their homes – I ask you, Mrs Merkel: Where was your horror? Above all, where are the consequences that you draw from this?

(Applause from the Left)

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We too, are aware that in foreign affairs, talking with unpleasant regimes is unavoidable. But there is a real difference between talking and wooing. You have already again spoken of the struggle against the causes of refugees; you have spoken about the dangers of terrorism — and you choose as your partner for solving the refugee crisis the very godfather of terrorism, Erdogan

(Applause from the Left)

who with his blood-soaked policy against the Kurds in one country and with his support of Islamic terror-groups in Syria is the very personification of refugee-causing. This is utterly irrational.

(Applause from the Left)

The transformation of Turkey into a refugee prison under the warden Erdogan, who can blackmail a borderless Europe with the keys to the prison in his pocket,

(Ingo Gädechens (CDU/CSU): Always yammering but with no solution of your own!)

— is no solution, but rather a declaration of moral bankruptcy.

(Applause from the Left – Sabine Weiss (Wesel I) (CDU/CSU): You don’t have a solution!)

All the while Turkey is ruthlessly bombing the Syrian Kurds, who are among the most determined fighters against the Islamic State.

The head of the Security Conference at Munich — as God knows, no friend of the Left — speaks of “the most dangerous world situation since the end of the cold war,” and warns of the danger of a nuclear conflict. And you practice Turkish-German togetherness. Would you in all earnestness let us get dragged into a war with Russia by this unpredictable Erdogan when he is persuaded that the Al-Nusra Front and other islamic terrorists in Syria need support? That is truly an absurd policy, that one can’t answer for.

(Applause from the Left)
Not any better is your second ally, the Saudi headsman dictatorship, with whom Herr Steinmeier appears at festivals, and for whom Herr Gabriel pitches for unrestricted armament exports

(Audible gasp from the SPD)

–even though the Saudis trample on Human Rights.

(Volker Kauder (CDU/CSU): That is outrageous!)

–even though they have inflicted a war on Yemen and even have upgraded and financed Islamic criminal groups in Syria.

(Applause from the Left)

Whoever really wants a ceasefire in Syria, has to finally cut off all the terrorist bands from any arms supplies.

(Applause from members of the Left)

Countries that support these terrorists should not be wooed and courted, but put under pressure instead.

(Applause from the Left)

The first thing you have got to do, if you really want to reduce the numbers of refugees, is Stop, we ask you, stop letting weapons get into these areas of crisis! 

Meanwhile there are many scattered war parties in Syra, but there are practically none that are not fighting with German-made weapons! Now even the Islamic State is fighting with German made weapons. That is a disgrace.

(Applause from the Left – Volker Kauder (CDU/CSU): The Kalashnikov is the main weapon. There let the truth out! Countercry from Heike Hänsel (The Left))

As you have mentioned, naturally the situation in the refugee encampments has to be improved. We very much hope that the commitments that have been made will be kept in practice.

One more request, Frau Merkel, that tomorrow you lobby for a European foreign policy aligned with Europe’s interests. And it is in Europe’s interest that we have good relations with Russia instead of ever more escalating confrontation.
These would be realistic steps towards the solving of the problems.

(Applause from the Left)

A prerequisite would be, of course, that this government become capable of acting again, instead of having the majority wasting their strength and their time with internal bickering and internal ankle-biting. 81 percent of people now feel that this government no longer has the problems under control. Even your pet newspapers like Die Welt state that the federal government has never been so isolated as it is now.

Which is why — and with this I come to a close -:

(Volker Kauder (CDU / CSU): Thank God!)

You can just not have it both ways: a neo-liberal policy of social coldness in Europe and mutually supportive cooperation. They don’t go together. Neoliberalism destroys participation and compassionate dealing.

(Applause from the Left – Michael Grosse-Brömer (CDU / CSU): So far, it only destroys socialism!)

If you want solutions with solidarity of support, then change the basic orientation of your policy.

Only then does Europe have a chance.

(Loud applause from the Left)

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