German leader’s party calls for Ukraine ‘peace initiative’
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has pledged to support the government in Kiev with money and weapons no matter what, but some members of his own party are now calling for a peace initiative as well, Der Spiegel reported on Friday. According to the outlet, several SPD parliamentarians at a meeting in Dresden said their party needed to encourage peace and diplomacy.
“We need a peace initiative from the SPD,” Bernd Westphal, who is the party spokesman on matters of economic policy, reportedly said at the meeting, calling for “more intelligent solutions” than war, which destroys lives and infrastructure and makes everyone poorer.
“The SPD is the peace party and must provide an impetus for it,” Westphal argued, according to people present at the meeting who spoke to Der Spiegel. Similar statements came from fellow Bundestag members Nina Scheer and Ralf Stegner. According to Stegner, Germany should be active in politics and diplomacy, and not be reduced simply to the role of a weapons supplier.
French President Emmanuel Macron also defended diplomacy in a speech on Thursday, telling his diplomats that no one wants “Turkey to be the only world power that is talking to Russia.” He has faced vocal criticism from Kiev and eastern EU members for making phone calls to the Kremlin since the conflict in Ukraine escalated in February.
While no one at the SPD meeting in Dresden objected to the calls for peace, MP Michael Roth – who chairs the foreign affairs committee – later denounced his colleagues’ statements to Der Spiegel.
“It's not as if there hasn’t been a variety of diplomatic efforts,” Roth said, claiming that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “psychological warfare is aimed precisely at our fears. He wants to divide our societies and delegitimize our support for Ukraine.”
The Russian president doesn’t want peace, Roth insisted, so SPD members advocating for it are “falling into his trap again.”
Earlier this week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock – member of the Greens, a junior partner in Scholz’s “traffic light” coalition – told a conference in Prague she intends to support Ukraine “no matter what my German voters think,” even if they take to the streets this winter because they can’t afford the skyrocketing energy bills.