Several summit meetings are scheduled in the coming days to discuss the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In the Bundestag, Scholz makes it clear that he thinks it is unlikely that the war will end anytime soon, “because Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictated peace.”
Before the start of a week of summit meetings, Chancellor Olaf Scholz affirmed that Germany will make a greater contribution to European security. “In the biggest security crisis in Europe for decades, Germany, the economically strongest and most populous country in the European Union, is taking on a very special responsibility,” he said in a government statement in the Bundestag.
Scholz clearly rejected the idea that there could be a NATO partnership “with Putin’s aggressive, imperialist Russia.” This is “inconceivable in the foreseeable future”. Nevertheless, the alliance should not itself denounce the NATO-Russia Founding Act. “That would only play into the hands of President Putin and his propaganda,” said Scholz. “The NATO-Russia Founding Act reaffirms the very principles that Putin has violated and is violating: non-use of force, respect for borders, the sovereignty of independent states. We should keep reminding Putin of that.”
Scholz repeated his announcement from the 27 February speech at the turn of the century: “We will defend every square meter of alliance territory.”
Conferences from Thursday to Thursday
A conference marathon lies ahead of Scholz: On Thursday morning, an EU summit with the Western Balkan states will take place in Brussels, followed immediately by a two-day EU summit. On Saturday, Scholz invites you to the G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps, to Elmau; this meeting lasts until Tuesday. On the same day, NATO heads of state and government meet for a three-day summit in Madrid. All of these summits will focus on one topic: the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the multiple consequences of it.
With a view to the NATO summit, Scholz was confident that Sweden and Finland will soon be part of the alliance. NATO member Turkey, which Scholz did not mention in his government statement, is blocking this.
Understanding of trouble in the Western Balkans
At the EU summit, Ukraine and Moldova are to be given status as EU accession candidates. The Western Balkan states of Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia have had this status for years but are still not members. Before his trip to Kyiv, Scholz had therefore tried to signal with a trip through the Western Balkan countries that the region should not be worse off than Ukraine in negotiations with the EU. In Belgrade, however, it became apparent that there are fundamental differences of opinion between the EU and Serbia, especially when it comes to Russia. Historically justified demands from Bulgaria to North Macedonia and Albania are also causing tension. Until today it was unclear whether the Western Balkans summit would take place at all.
Scholz expressly showed understanding for the Western Balkan countries’ “disturbing feeling” that after so many years they still hadn’t got beyond candidate status. Specifically, he pointed out that North Macedonia had even changed its name to resolve a conflict with Greece. He warned Bulgaria to be willing to compromise: “The EU must finally give the green light for accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.” Scholz did not go into the conflict with Serbia.
“Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine far away”
The chancellor called Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine “a barbaric crime.” Ukraine has every right to defend itself. Scholz repeated his statement that Europe will support Ukraine as long as Ukraine needs that support. He shared what became known yesterday was, namely that the self-propelled howitzers “on which we Ukrainian soldiers have been training intensively in recent weeks” are now in Ukraine.
Scholz dampened hopes of an early diplomatic solution to the war. “The truth is: We are far, far away from negotiations between Ukraine and Russia because Putin still believes in the possibility of a dictated peace.” The aim of western politics is “to succeed in pushing back the Russian attackers with combined forces”. Scholz emphasized that NATO must not become a party to the war.
Scholz hopes for unity
At the EU summit, he will work to ensure “that the entire EU says yes” to Ukraine’s candidate status, said Scholz. However, the path to the EU is full of prerequisites, in other words: Ukraine and Moldova still have many problems to solve before they can actually become members. At the same time, the EU must also reform in order to be ready for admission. According to Scholz, Georgia, which does not receive candidate status, should have a “European perspective”.
In Scholz’s words, the goal of the summit marathon in the coming days is the message “that the European Union, NATO and the G7 stand together more closely than ever before”. He pointed out that he had also invited representatives of the African Union, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, South Africa, Indonesia and India to Elmau. Scholz is therefore hoping for a further signal: “that the democracies of the world stand together in the fight against Putin’s imperialism, but also in the fight against hunger and poverty, against health crises and climate change”. Without the Russian invasion of Ukraine, these issues would probably have been the focus of the EU and G7 summits.
Giving out the signal of unity from Elmau as a goal is not without risk for Scholz. During his visit to South Africa attended the press conference with President Cyril Ramaphosa sharp differences in the assessment of the Russian war of aggression have become apparent. If that also happens in Elmau, it was nothing to do with standing together.