Some German oppinions on the proposed lifting of the China arms ban

Discussion in 'Europe' started by nosarcasm, Apr 18, 2005.

  1. nosarcasm

    nosarcasm Active Member

    Jul 15, 2004
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    Germany's chancellor wants to lift the EU arms embargo against China. As a Thursday debate in the German parliament made clear, however, not many others back his position. Also, Germany's high court may be preparing to declare a major EU law unconstitutional.

    Many feel the EU arms embargo against China should remain in place. Especially after March's saber rattling in the direction of Taiwan.
    The issue has been making headlines for weeks: Should the European Union lift its arms embargo slapped onto China following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre as Germany and France would like -- due in large part to the lucrative contracts that could result? Or should the EU bow to US wishes and keep the embargo in place? In Germany, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has come under fire from parties across the political spectrum for his stance on ending the 16-year-old weapons ban -- and much of that fire has come from his own governing coalition partner, the Greens, despite waffling from Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, the de facto leader of the Greens, on the issue. The topic was debated in the German parliament on Thursday, and on Friday, the German press once again takes a look.

    The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung asks if delivering weapons to China will really further the integration of China into the international community or contribute to stability in East Asia. The paper says Chancellor Schroeder seems convinced of that fact, since he's called the embargo both "unnecessary" and even discriminatory. But, the editorial continues, "the anti-discrimination activist is campaigning for an embargo-free world as if the character of the Chinese regime is of no importance, as if the issue of Taiwan didn't exist, or as if China was not the rising power to rival America, and one which could one day unhinge the world."

    The paper also looks at Fischer's apparent flip-flop on the subject. Recently, he came out against lifting the embargo but is now declining to criticize Schroeder's position. The paper describes as "harrowing" the contradiction between the Green foreign minister's earlier rejection of a lifting of the embargo and his later about-face. "Other Green party members are not quite as convinced about the developments, political and otherwise, made by China. But their 'no' to the Chancellor will naturally upset the chancellor about as much as a fly in late summer."

    The Financial Times Deutschland also looks slightly askance at Fischer's flip-flop, but understands the political reasons the Green foreign minister did what he did. "What good would it have done if Joschka Fischer had pit himself against his boss?" the paper asks. The embattled Social Democrat-Green coalition doesn't need another crack in its foundation, especially before important state elections in North Rhine-Westphalia on May 22. "Besides, the embargo question will not be decided this year, so why should Fischer battle it out now?" Still, the paper also asks what Schroeder's position could mean for his coalition partners on the long term. The chancellor, after all, appears to treat foreign policy as merely the continuation of his economic program, only using different means. "Often, the tone of this policy sounds very different than what Green ears would like to hear. If this development continues or grows stronger, it could become a question of principle for the Greens. Can the party, or the voters, put up with a German foreign policy that runs counter to the Green agenda, but is connected with the party's most well-known figure? This split between ideals and realpolitik cannot be good for the party in the long run."

    The second issue taken on be several dailies on Friday is the matter of the EU-wide arrest warrant, which has been the focus of legal arguments in Germany's constitution court in Karlsruhe. The case in question involves Mamoun Darkazanli, a German of Syrian origin, who is wanted by Spain for allegedly being a member of the al-Qaida terrorist network. His extradition from Germany to Spain under the European arrest warrant was stopped by the high court. After all, at the time Darkazanli allegedly worked with al-Qaida, colluding with a terrorist organization had not yet been written into German law. The court ruling, which is not expected for several months, could rule that the EU warrant breaches the German constitution.

    The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes that the eagerness with which the issue was taken up by the court and politicians points to ingrained anti-Europe prejudices. In this case, it says, the court went to great pains to construct hypothetical cases in arguing against the warrant that have never reflected reality and probably never will. "If Karlsruhe were to create similar worst-case scenarios when reviewing German law, the judges would have very little free time anymore." The danger, the paper continues, is that "a kind of 'basic rights nationalism' could establish itself that feeds off of ignorance and prejudice regarding the EU and other EU member states." It cites the example of Hamburg's interior minister Roger Kusch, who at once time wanted to extradite Darkazanli as soon as possible, but now is the most vocal defender of the suspect's rights under German law. It's obvious, the paper says, that "Kusch recognized the anti-European potential of this debate."

    The Sueddeutsche Zeitung takes German parliamentarians to task over the issue, several of whom have said they voted for the EU arrest warrant although they had serious reservations about it. "They recognized the unconstitutional nature of the arrest warrant, but because of Europe, parliamentarians felt they had no other choice than to vote for it." Shoddy work, the paper says, adding: "One doesn't know if the confessions are moving because of their honesty, or the fact that they are so embarrassing." Now lawmakers want judges to help them out of this plight, when they should have helped themselves in the first place. They could have insisted that Berlin negotiate the terms of the warrant with Brussels and gotten a little more room to maneuver when it comes to possible clashes between the warrant and German law.

    The Berliner Zeitung also pulls out its ruler and raps a few parliamentarians' hands. "Had the people's representatives stood in front of the constitutional court and made a confession, they would have had to confess to knowing nothing about Europe and not really wanting to know anything about it." The danger is, the paper continues, that there is much at stake, nothing less than Germany's giving over increasing amounts of its sovereignty to Brussels. Members of the Bundestag should have addressed the constitutional questions that have surfaced now before the EU warrant went into effect. But when it comes to Europe, "German representatives behave like those three monkeys -- they hear nothing, see nothing and say nothing.",1518,351503,00.html

    After the US pressure on the topic I d be surprised if they go ahead and
    lift the ban especially due to the coalition with the Green party.
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1

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