Chancellor candidates from the Union, the Social Democrats and the Greens traded blows on foreign and security policy matters in the ARD Capital studio on Saturday. At the Munich Security Conference, SPD candidate Olaf Schulz emphasized the importance of transatlantic relations, and Annalena Barbock emphasized cooperation with the United States. The green leader reiterated her idea of a climate alliance. The president of the Christian Democratic Union, Armin Laschet, warned the United States not to fall back into “America First.”
When it came to questions about armaments in the German army, the top candidates backed down and pointed to the German Army’s operations currently underway, which are already a major effort. Barbock again voiced skepticism about NATO’s demand to spend 2% of GDP on defense, and called for equitable burden-sharing. In connection with the recent attack in Mali, in which German UN soldiers were injured, controversy also erupted over armed drones. Laschet advocated acquiring drones first. Prior to this, Baerbock also required that the exact field of application be specified. Schulz was fundamentally skeptical. He once again put forward the idea of a European army in action and for a qualified majority in potential deployments like this in the EU, that individual states could not prevent. In the controversy over Hungary and the law recently discussed there, Laschet emphasized that despite everything he wanted Eastern European countries to better integrate into the EU and “return” them, he referred to the European Court of Justice when it came to imposing sanctions for violations of European law.
Instead, the green leader urged faster sanctions against Hungary. Regarding China’s policy, Laschet said one should keep the country as an economic partner, but any human rights abuses should be clearly identified. Schulz pointed to the recently passed supply chain law and cautioned against short-sightedness. The green candidate resisted the separation of values and business and warned of real consequences if human rights were ignored. With Nord Stream 2, Laschet and Schultz emphasized the “purely economic” character of the project and considered the politicization of Russia absurd. Barbock spoke forcefully in favor of discontinuation and spoke of “naivety” in viewing the pipeline as a purely economic factor. +++
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