The readiness to help others represents "a ray of hope in dark days"

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Federal Chancellor Scholz during a general debate in the Bundestag The readiness to help others represents "a ray of hope in dark days"

Federal Chancellor Scholz talked about the war in Ukraine and its consequences in the Bundestag on Wednesday. He also sees some encouraging developments including the enormous readiness to donate and solidarity.

4 min reading time

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking in the Bundestag.

The Bundestag is debating the new federal budget this week. Federal Chancellor Scholz delivered his speech during the so-called general debate.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

The key facts in brief

  • "Ukraine can rely on our help," Chancellor Scholz assured the Bundestag adding that the sanctions were working. However, any direct military confrontation between Russia and NATO must be avoided.
  • According to Scholz, the only responses to energy dependency and high prices are renewable energies and energy efficiency. "Our goal of achieving climate neutrality in Germany by 2045 is more important than ever."
  • Investments in the Federal Armed Forces will not be made at the expense of other tasks and projects such as the climate-neutral economy, good jobs, fair pensions, and an efficient health system.

Many people in Germany are concerned about the situation in Ukraine, but also about the potential consequences of the war for Germany. The Federal Government takes these concerns seriously. However, in his speech in the general debate in the Bundestag on Wednesday, Federal Chancellor Scholz also stressed that the crisis also reveals just how much good there is in our country and what we can achieve together. "We are witnessing a sense of solidarity throughout our country,” the Federal Chancellor said: millions of people are donating, attending peace rallies, and helping Ukrainian refugees. I am encouraged by this."

Germany is helping Ukraine

Scholz said that Ukraine could rely on Germany's help and referred to arms deliveries, to the extensive sanctions, and to military aid from the EU worth a billion euros. However, he made clear that any direct confrontation between Russia and NATO must be avoided. In response to calls for a no-fly zone or a peacekeeping force in Ukraine, he said: "As difficult as it may be, we will not give in to it." NATO would not be a party to the war, he added. "We are in agreement with our European allies and the United States about this."

The sanctions against Russia are working. "What is more, we are continuously tightening the sanctions," the Federal Chancellor said. However, he added that the sanctions should not hit the European states harder than the Russian leadership. Germany, he said, would end its dependence on Russian oil and gas. "It would plunge Germany and the whole of Europe into a profound recession if we were to do this overnight. It would put hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk. Entire industry sectors would be on the verge of collapse."

A huge readiness to help throughout our nation

Scholz thanked the public, both at home and throughout Europe, for their readiness to help and their open-heartedness towards the people in and from Ukraine. "This is a ray of hope in these dark days." The Ukrainian refugees are welcome in Germany, he continued. "Germany will help both here at home, in Europe, and around the world," the Federal Chancellor said.

Scholz: This is about European values – about democracy and freedom

"We shall leave no stone unturned until peace is restored on our continent," he stressed. Recently, he said, he had spoken repeatedly with both the Ukrainian President Zelensky and Russia's President Putin: "Putin needs to hear the truth about the war in Ukraine," Scholz said, the truth being that: "the war is destroying Ukraine,” but also that, in his view, Putin is destroying Russia's future with the war. "The weapons must fall silent – and immediately," said the Federal Chancellor, who added that Germany is doing everything in its power to support Ukraine in the search for a political solution. "This is about European values – about democracy and freedom, and rule of law," he said.

Investing in our security

Germany will invest in its security, to which end a "special Federal Armed Forces Fund” will be established. Security means "positioning ourselves in such a way at the European and transatlantic levels that we will be able to defend ourselves against all attacks," said Scholz. However, he added, the special fund would not come at the expense of other important investments and expenditure in areas such as the transformation to a climate-neutral economy, sustainable jobs, affordable energy, fair pensions, and an efficient healthcare system.

Achieving climate neutrality by 2045 is more important than ever

The Federal Government is setting the course for "new horizons." In terms of our energy and climate policy, the Federal Chancellor said, we say "now more than ever!" This will involve a diversification of supply sources, filling up storage facilities, and relieving the burden on the public and businesses. The goal of achieving a climate-neutral Germany by 2045, he said, is now more important than ever and added that there is only one sustainable response to energy dependence and high energy prices: "renewable energies and energy efficiency."

The glue that holds our country together

To master the enormous challenges of our time, Scholz said, we require social cohesion. "Ordinary members of the public must be made to feel that each and every individual counts, said the Federal Chancellor, and that their contribution and efforts are valued.” Fair wages, adequate pensions, affordable rents and decent coverage in the event of illness and the need for long-term care, said Scholz, are not gifts from the state, but rather they are the "glue that holds our country together.”