Scholz defends energy policy, Russia stance in fiery parliament debate
Berlin, Sep 7 (EFE).- Germany is equipped to deal with the consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday during a tense debate on the government’s budget proposal in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
Germany is attempting to wean itself off Russian oil and gas in the wake of the war in Ukraine, which has seen energy prices skyrocket as the Kremlin limits supplies in response to tough international sanctions against Moscow.
The government on Sunday unveiled its latest aid package of 65 billion euros ($64.7b) for German citizens and businesses to better cope with rising energy prices and inflation triggered by Russia’s aggression.
Among the various measures, the German government will introduce an electricity price brake for consumers, which will be financed by the “windfall profits” from energy companies.
“We have been preparing for this situation since before the war started. We started building liquefied gas terminals so that we could import gas from places other than Russia,” said Scholz, who was highly critical of the conservative opposition, made up of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), which had been in power under Angela Merkel since 2005 and oversaw the country’s attempts at improving ties with Russia.
Specifically, Germany has contacted its “friends on the west European coast” — namely Belgium, the Netherlands and France — to secure alternative deliveries of gas, Scholz said.
“We are now in a situation where we can head into the winter courageously and bravely — our country can survive,” he said.
According to Scholz, if it had not been for the precautions his government has taken, gas tanks would be almost empty rather than 85 percent full as they currently are.
“You should recognize that this is an impressive achievement,” he said.
The opposition’s main point of contention with the government’s proposal is its refusal to keep three nuclear power plants that are due to go offline at the end of the year operational.
Leader of the opposition, Friedrich Merz, said 10 million households could be supplied with electricity if those atomic plants are kept running.
Scholz also took issue with the fact that the phase out of nuclear and coal power was initiated by the CDU/CSU when it was in government but stopped short of committing to the growth of renewable energy.
“You were the ones who fought and tried to prevent the construction of wind farms. Such a party can bring nothing to the question of how we solve the energy challenge in the future,” he said.
Merz also accused the government of not supplying Ukraine with enough weapons and of not giving it enough support, to which Scholz responded that Germany is supplying Kyiv with heavy weaponry and artillery while acting in compliance with its allies.
“We will not take decisions alone. Whoever is in favor of solo decisions should not rule this country. We will not allow an escalation that will lead to a war between Nato and Russia, but we will do what is necessary to help Ukraine,” he insisted. EFE