Scholz wants to close the debate on sending fighter jets

Berlin (HINA) – On Monday, during his visit to Chile, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the sending of fighter jets to Ukraine and expressed his desire to end the debate.

The German chancellor explained that he had already ruled out the possibility of sending fighter jets in a conversation with US President Joe Biden right at the onset of the Russian attack on Ukraine.

In a recent interview, Saskia Esken, the president of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) – to which Olaf Scholz also belongs – did not categorically reject the possibility that Germany, after the decision to deliver Leopard 2 tanks, would also deliver combat planes to Ukraine.

Scholz, in an interview before leaving for Latin America, assessed that the discussion about which weapons should be delivered to Ukraine currently resembled a race. (January 30)

New Czech president more open to EU and Ukraine

Prague (AFP) – The newly elected Czech President Petr Pavel, a former NATO general, will promote close ties with the EU and help Ukraine stand up to Russia’s invasion, analysts told AFP.

Pavel won Saturday’s presidential election, defeating billionaire populist Andrej Babis. His victory follows the recent Czech EU presidency, which was widely regarded as successful. He succeeds Milos Zeman, who is known for his ties to Moscow and Beijing.

“We know that his contacts at NATO, as well as with peers from NATO member states… are very strong, and foreign policy will be his domain,” said Pavel Havlicek, a scientist at the Association for International Affairs in Prague.

“He is very much in favour of Ukraine, he has repeatedly voiced his support, and he’s very critical towards Russia,” said Jiri Pehe, a political analyst at New York University Prague.

Pavel’s “firm commitment to European values” was welcomed by the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. “Your experience in security, defence and foreign relations will be precious to maintain and strengthen Europe’s unity in support of Ukraine,” she added. (January 29)

After Baerbock’s statement, Federal Government emphasizes: Germany is not party to war

Berlin (dpa) – Following a controversial statement by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the German government has stressed that Germany is not a party to the war in Ukraine. “NATO and Germany are not a party in this war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine,” said deputy government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann in Berlin on 27 January. Germany’s Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, referring to the recent decision to supply Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, also stressed that this did not make Germany a party to the war.

“We are fighting a war against Russia and not against each other.” With these words Baerbock called for cohesion among Western allies at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 24 January.

The Russian state media seized on this statement as a key phrase of war propaganda and proof that Germany and the other EU countries were direct parties to the conflict in Ukraine and were fighting against Russia. On January 27, the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, had demanded an explanation from the German ambassador in Moscow on “contradictory” statements from Berlin.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson explained in Berlin that the lengthy discussion in which the statement was made had been about emphasizing that the EU, the G7 states and NATO were united against the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. “Russian propaganda is always taking statements, sentences, attitudes, positions of the German government, of our partners, and twisting them to serve its purpose,” the spokesman said. “The one who is escalating here is Russia.” In the sense of international law, Germany was not a party to the conflict, he added. (January 27)

Nehammer and Rutte want to pull together on migration

Vienna (APA) – The Netherlands and Austria want to join forces at the special EU summit to call for solutions to mitigate illegal migration. On Thursday, during a visit to Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that he saw “a consensus forming” in the EU. Nehammer reiterated the demand for financial EU support for Bulgaria and Greece for EU external border protection.

However, it would take several EU summits to resolve these issues, Rutte said. When the EU-Turkey refugee deal was concluded in 2016, it was easier, the Dutch prime minister stated. Now, he added, the EU had a plethora of problems, including Schengen, Frontex, the Dublin system and repatriations.

“If we want to keep the EU as a safe haven for refugees, we also have to make sure that the numbers are manageable,” Rutte said. He explained it was clear that more external border management measures were needed. However, Rutte argued one could not dictate to the EU Commission what it had to pay for.

Nehammer said that Austria had the same problems as the Netherlands with the transfer of Dublin cases. He accused the EU Commission, which does not want to finance fences, of taking an “ideological approach” to this issue. The guidelines for the protection of the EU’s external borders also included construction measures. It was “not okay to leave Bulgaria alone with the costs.” In reality, the Bulgarian border guards were also protecting the borders of Austria and the Netherlands. “This is not an ideological question, but a pragmatic one,” Nehammer added. One had to be flexible and creative.

Austria blocked the Schengen accession of Bulgaria and Romania in December because of illegal migration. The Netherlands had also expressed reservations about Bulgaria. During a visit to the Bulgarian-Turkish border on Monday, Nehammer demanded EU funds to the tune of 2 billion euros to expand Bulgaria’s border fence.

Under the Dublin system, the country of first reception would be responsible for asylum procedures, but in practice the system does not work well in the EU. (January 26)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.