The plans of German politicians took shape in a specific decision.
As usual in such cases, the news media spread the news began to discuss options for applying the new contingent of the Bundeswehr. The most popular in this series was the topic of the growing tension between Russia and NATO, which official Berlin has often spoken about. There were variations on the use of the German military in the conflict in Ukraine. They, however, were considered untenable, since the process of replenishing the Bundeswehr must be phased in over seven years, so that it is difficult to tie it to any hot spot of the present time.
Some German media outlets related the statement of the head of the military department to the long-standing initiative of Hans-Heinrich Driftmann. In the summer of 2010, Driftmann (at that time, Chairman of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry) stated that among the tasks of the Bundeswehr "there must be protection of German commercial interests abroad, including protection of trade routes." In fact, Driftmann spoke only in the development of the theme designated by the former President of Germany Horst Köhler in the spring of that year in an interview with Deutschlandafunk. Horst Köhler then stated: “A country as large as ours, dependent on exports, must be aware that in an emergency, military intervention is necessary to protect our interests. For example, to ensure the freedom of trade routes. ”
Hans-Heinrich Driftmann was at that time not only the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, but also the Vice-Chairman of the expert commission on the reform of the Bundeswehr. Therefore, his statement about the new tasks of the German military was perceived by society with noticeable excitement. After all, the use of German soldiers abroad in Germany is still evaluated ambiguously.
After being created in the mid-fifties, the Bundeswehr, in accordance with the German constitution, did not participate in operations outside the country for 40 years. In July 1994, the German Constitutional Court decided to repeal the amendment to the 24 Chapter of the Basic Law, which prohibited the participation of the Bundeswehr in military operations abroad.
The opposition then sharply condemned such a decision. The society was reassured by the fact that German soldiers would be involved in participation only in peacekeeping operations. In addition, in the absence of military threats, the Bundeswehr will be reformed and reduced.
Such a reduction really took place. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the number of soldiers of the Bundeswehr has decreased from 585 thousand in 1990 year to 177 thousand at present. Now the German Ministry of Defense announced the expansion of the Bundeswehr - the first since the unification of the country in 1990.
The decision of Ursula von der Lyayen did not come as a surprise to the Germans. According to Deutsche Welle, the plan to increase the army corresponds to the statements of the authorized Bundestag for military affairs of Hans-Peter Bartels, which he made back in December 2015 of the year. Bartels then justified the need to increase the size of the Bundeswehr (at least 7 thousands) by the growth of international conflicts. In particular, German soldiers and officers began to be actively involved in NATO operations, to save refugees in the Mediterranean. Now the intentions and plans of German politicians have taken the form of a concrete decision.
Germany demonstrates Europeans willingness for independence
The statement of the German defense minister in the European media was completely different. The British The Financial Times, for example, writes about Berlin’s plans to offer the EU to create a single European army. Such a project, according to the publication, the Germans will present in July. The German government is ready to make an official proposal to create a joint European general staff and a common fleet of military equipment.
Talk about creating a single European army has been going on for a long time. In March last year, a proposal to create a powerful army in the EU capable of confronting external threats was made by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. He was actively supported by Germany, but the topic was not developed.
Now, according to The Financial Times, the proposal of the German authorities to create a “European defensive alliance” will be not only a significant initiative, but also the first official step in this direction. July the Germans did not choose by chance. As you know, June 23 in the UK will hold a referendum on withdrawal from the European Union. Under these conditions, the initiative of Germany to create a single European army can play into the hands of supporters of the so-called Brexit - the exit of Britain from the EU. Berlin is the least interested in this development of events, and therefore keeps its project until July.
It is not excluded that the publication in the British edition of the leak about Germany’s summer plans is precisely the political goals of one of the parties to the expected referendum. At the same time, Berlin’s statement about plans to expand its own armed forces, aimed at using outside of their own country, gives the German initiative much more power.
Experts point out that it will not be easy for Germans to overcome the skepticism of European politicians towards the integration of the EU armed forces. On the continent, they are used to relying on NATO. Many European countries are less concerned about the need for a common paramilitary structure. They are generally satisfied with the status quo. Germany has its own reason in combining headquarters and troops - to restore sovereignty lost after the Second World War.
The German project will in fact eventually lead to the abolition of the NATO bloc, which is relevant only in the light of the Russian military threat inflated by the Americans. For many, it is obvious that in recent years, conflicts in Asia, Africa and the Middle East have badly battered the resilience of the United States. It’s not a fact that in the medium term, Americans will be able to guarantee Europeans security, as has happened since the days of the Cold War.
Inside NATO, there are also hidden processes that have not yet been evaluated by experts. So, last fall, despite the shouts of NATO generals, the Spaniards allowed Russian warships and submarines to call at their African port of Ceuta for refueling, restocking and maintenance.
This spring the incident occurred in Gibraltar. The Spanish patrol ship "Rio Cedena" tried to prevent the American nuclear-powered submarine "Florida" from entering the port. The British newspaper The Sun reported this cites the words of one of the top officials of Gibraltar, an overseas territory of Great Britain: "This is not only a very dangerous game for the Spaniards, it is unworthy of a NATO ally, to treat the US Navy with such contempt."
A British patrol boat, Saber, fired off a Spanish patrol vehicle from Florida. And he did it twice. The incident occurred in mid-April, it became known about him only after a fortnight. The causes of the incident remained a mystery to the public. But it is known that the Spanish military have already expressed support for the German project of a unified European army.
According to experts, the German project will lead to the "abolition of the American factor in Europe and will allow building a solid European security architecture." This is not a quick perspective. Today, the Germans write diplomatically in the prepared document: “The more we, the Europeans, are ready to take on a significant share of the total burden, and the more our American partner is ready to go through common decision-making, the better the security results will come from the transatlantic partnership.”
The new initiative of Ursula von der Lyayen to expand the capabilities of the Bundeswehr in the actions abroad of the country just shows that Germany is ready to go its part of the way to strengthen the security of Europe by the forces of the Europeans themselves.