In Frankfurter Rundschau, June 30, 2016
Translated from German by Tom Winter, July 3, 2016
The former green state minister Ludger Volmer strongly criticizes his party’s Russia policy and warns against a one-sided image of Putin.
The former Minister of State in the Foreign Office, Ludger Volmer (Green), has sharply attacked his party’s Russia policy.
The 64-year-old, who served under the aegis of Joschka Fischer and retired from the Bundestag in 2005, now castigates the Greens in an open letter for demonizing the Russian President Vladimir Putin and “meekly reciting NATO slogans,” This just increases the danger of escalation. This is “disgraceful for a peace party” that it is “stuck in silence.”
Although it is correct to consider Putin critically according to Volmer, yet Putin’s image in Germany is “one-sided.” And: “The vast majority of Russians want him.” In addition, one does not have to “love the Russian national character, but when it comes to any other questionable ideology, you try to deal constructively with them, political Islamism for instance — in some instances too much so.”
The former member notes: “Putin may be no role model for a libertarian democracy. But he is not a warmonger.” At the same time some aspects of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine get downplayed, such as the participation of fascists in it, while the annexation of the Crimea is not so clear a violation of international law, as the Greens insist.
Incorrect threat assessment?
Above all, there is “no serious reason to assume that Russia wants incorporate Poland or the Baltic states. An incorrect threat assessment is as dangerous as a real threat,” Volmer therefore asks: “Why are you, except for some individual voices, being silent about the NATO/EU escalation on the eastern borders?”
The letter follows on the heels of statements by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), who had accused the West of “sabre rattling” and had gotten criticized for it. And representatives of the Left party had attacked the Greens with arguments comparable to Volmer’s.
On Wednesday word came from the Greens that it was working up a response to the letter, which was received on Monday. The foreign policy Group spokesman Omid Nouripour told the Frankfurter Rundschau: “It’s never good style to publicly criticize the work of your own successor, without first dealing with them or seeking contact with them. We are fine with the line on de-escalation, but we are not with Ludger Volmer on relativizing the breach of international law by the Kremlin.”