SPD party conference concludes: Previous Russia policy was a mistake

As of: December 9, 2023 8:55 pm

The SPD changed itself in terms of foreign policy at its party conference. In particular, he is redefining his relationship with Moscow — and openly criticizing his previous Russia policy as a mistake.

At its party conference, the SPD admitted to misjudgments in its Russia policy before the war in Ukraine. The assumption that ever-stronger economic ties would contribute to Russia’s democratization was a mistake and led to dependence on German energy policy, according to the main proposition of foreign policy adopted by the delegation.

According to the motion, titled “Social Democratic Responses to a Changing World,” the SPD’s decision rejects normalizing relations with the government in Moscow, “as long as Russia continues its imperialist goal of conquering and oppressing sovereign nations.”

Self-Criticism of Party and Party Leaders

In the party conference debate, leading SPD delegates were self-critical. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil said it was “a mistake not to distance ourselves from Putin’s system sooner.” Party leader Rolf Mützenich admitted that the Kremlin had “completely underestimated” the imperialist mindset of Vladimir Putin.

After the Russian attack on Ukraine, the SPD has long been accused of underestimating the security risk posed by Russia. The 2021 election program said: “Peace in Europe cannot be against Russia, but only with it.” Now this sentence has been replaced by its opposite in the party conference resolution: “As long as nothing fundamentally changes in Russia, Europe’s defense against Russia must be organized.”

Security The principle of détente Under the brand

At the same time, Mützenich resisted attempts to discredit the SPD’s traditional policy of détente. Associating them with a war of aggression against Ukraine is shameful, he said.

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Klingbeil defended then-SPD President Willy Brandt’s policy towards the Soviet Union. Instead of coming to terms with their own Russia policy, conservatives have spent the past two years trying to “smudge the legacy of Willy Brandt.” He will not allow this to be damaged.

“Military as a means Policy of Peace”

With the SPD decision, the party advocates a leading role for Germany in the world. The Party Conference resolution expressly recognizes the military as a means of peace policy. A sovereign Europe is also said to be the most important political response to changing times.

In addition to expanding the internal market and strengthening social Europe, it is also important that “the EU overcomes inefficient and ineffective fragmentation in its defense policy and its arms industries”.

In terms of Eastern European policy, it is important to “create the conditions for the early admission of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia”. The resolution urges states around the world that “Germany must show more initiative and take a leadership role internationally.” For China, “a European resilience strategy that minimizes risks” is needed.

Scholz: Long-term aid to Ukraine

At the party conference, President Olaf Scholz called for continued support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, if necessary. Since the February 2022 Russian invasion, Germany has provided Ukraine with billions in financial aid and extensive arms supplies.

In a tight budget situation, there are fears that the federal government may reduce its aid. “This war is not going to end anytime soon,” said Schales. Therefore, it is important that “we can continue to support Ukraine in its security struggle over the long term.” This applies not only to this year, to next year, but also to the year after that.

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Germany must be prepared to do more “when others weaken,” the chancellor said, an apparent reference to the uncertain political situation in the United States ahead of next year’s presidential election. Therefore, the German side must have “we can do this” decisions.

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