https://www.dw.com-German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has reiterated a plan to bolster defense spending while pledging to take on more refugees. “We are standing before a monumental challenge,” he said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is addressing Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, on Wednesday to outline his government’s budget policy amid a spectrum of challenges, ranging from fallout from the war in Ukraine to lingering consequences of the COVID pandemic.
His speech on the second day of a four-day debate on the budget is expected to focus on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including its economic effects on Germany.
What has Scholz said?
Speaking of Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy’s recent appeal for support to the Bundestag, Scholz said, “President Zelenskyy, Ukraine can count on our help.”
Scholz insisted that NATO would not engage in a military confrontation with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, but said the West would continue to tighten sanctions on Moscow.
He said Germany would face a major challenge in taking in Ukrainian refugees, but said EU countries were showing great solidarity over their support.
“The refugees are welcome here,” he said.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin had to understand that his attack on Ukraine was not only destroying that country but Russia itself. He called on Putin to stop the war immediately.
He said planned hikes in Germany’s military budget would not impact on expenditure on health care, the fight against climate change and social welfare.
Scholz also said that German residents would receive financial support amid rising energy prices. He said renewable energy sources and energy efficiency were key to reducing dependency on Russia in the long term.
The chancellor also touched on another major challenge, the coronavirus pandemic.
He said Germany would do everything in its power to ensure that another infection wave would not hit the country in fall.
Scholz said that to cope with the challenges, societal solidarity was necessary. He said that this solidarity was also necessary at an international level, including in NATO and the EU.
“We will show the world that we stand together,” he said.
“Freedom and democracy are suddenly not abstract concepts anymore, but things that must be defended,” he said.
tj/wmr (dpa, AFP)