Top politician calls on Scholz to ‘stop’ German foreign minister
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz must “stop” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock before she becomes a “security risk” and pushes Berlin towards a conflict with Moscow with her “thoughtless statements,” Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Soeder said on Wednesday during a German political festival.
The foreign minister and her party – Alliance 90/The Greens – are talking themselves into a “war frenzy” amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Soeder told a crowd of cheering supporters during what is known in Germany as Political Ash Wednesday. Originating in Bavaria, the 100-year-old event allows German politicians to vent and pull no punches about the perceived shortcomings of their political rivals.
Soeder referred in particular to when Baerbock told the European Council in January that the EU was “fighting a war against Russia,” words that sparked uproar at the time. In mid-February, Baerbock herself conceded that the remark was a mistake.
“A foreign minister has to be careful what she says,” Soeder warned during the event in Passau, Bavaria, adding that “an escalation of words can quickly lead to the escalation of violence.” Germany is helping Ukraine but is not at war with Russia, he maintained.
“Mr. Scholz, finally stop Ms. Baerbock,” Soeder said, adding that the foreign minister’s “thoughtless statements” are often “to the detriment of our country.”
Baerbock has emerged as one of the most hardline supporters of Kiev in the German government, repeatedly arguing for increased military aid to Ukraine and criticizing Chancellor Scholz for supposedly not doing enough. She has also supported tougher sanctions on Russia and opposed any compromises.
In October 2022, she said that any concessions to Russia in the conflict would be “naïve.” The minister also maintained that the West should not settle for a peace agreement that would result in Ukraine losing any territory.
Soeder, who has been a prominent figure in the German opposition, previously criticized Berlin for prioritizing military aid to Ukraine over the nation’s own security. In particular, he argued that Germany should not have sent IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine and should have instead used them to enhance its own national defense.