Marieluise Beck

Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestags

Material from the German Bundestag's Debate on Sending Troups to Bosnia and Herzegowina on 30 June 1995

Marieluise Beck, Alliance 90/The Greens group in parliament, makes the following statement with regard to the June 30, 1995 vote of the German Bundestag on the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the former Yugoslavia:

1. The 1968 generation—to which I belong in the broader sense—demanded of its parents that they break through the taboo of their participation or involvement in the Nazi system, and that they assume responsibility for it. Therefore, we must demand of ourselves just as resolutely that we discern with a sharp eye that which goes on around us.

2. The history of German Fascism teaches us that Poland, Russia and the peoples we attacked were able to defend themselves only with military counterforce. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers.

3. We are right to exhort that war must never again emanate from German soil. But the heritage of our fathers also obligates us to take action against such violence when a people are again being exterminated: When the community of nations acts together to that end, we have a moral obligation not to shy away from personal risk as well.

4. The war against the people in Bosnia, the murder, rape, concentration camps and expulsion, are following a publicly expressed will of Serb extremists for their extermination.

5. Anyone can see who the perpetrators are and who the victims of this war are. The community of nations should have long since distanced itself from a position of neutrality to stand unequivocally on the side of the victims.

6. It is barely tolerable that even the deployment of the rapid intervention force does not include the express goal of finally protecting the civilian population in Bosnia. The people in the enclaves and in the protected zones cannot understand why their lives are not being protected; why no one is preventing grenades from being fired at them; and why the Serb extremists can continue to use hunger and the cold as weapons against them.

7. At the beginning of the war against Bosnia, the community of nations missed the opportunity to clearly agree on a political goal. The blue-helmet mission was thus doomed to suffer one defeat after another. Peacekeeping in a country where war is raging is absurd.

8. After years of disappointment and years of hoping in vain for protection, who can blame the people in Bosnia for their conviction that only they will now be able to help themselves. If the community of nations does not finally act to protect the people of Bosnia, it must at least afford them the right to self-defense.

9. Even the intervention force we have resolved today will change nothing about the fundamental basis on which the peacekeepers in Bosnia are acting. What would be necessary to stop the murder in Bosnia is intervention partial to one side. Because the withdrawal of UNPROFOR would fan the flames of war even more, but since we cannot demand the continued presence of UNPROFOR if we shift all risk only to other countries, I support the proposal for German participation—knowing full well that this will not truly succeed in resolving the intractable situation created by the indecisiveness of the past few years.

10. In talks this morning, Bosnian Ambassador Enver Ajanović told me that the Bosnian government emphatically advocates the participation of German soldiers in the rapid intervention force. He expressed the hope that the UN resolutions on Bosnia would finally be implemented.

German Bundestag - 13th legislative period - 48th session. Bonn, Friday, 30 June 1995

Margitta. Terborg

I voted No because I am against any military engagement in the former Yugoslavia by German soldiers.

(Applause among representatives of the SPD)

I will abstain from voting on the submission of the SPD. I will vote Yes to the proposal of ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS.

I would like to fall back upon crisis of conscience and thus say very clearly: you will not be able to claim that I share the responsibility if the result of the decision of the majority of this chamber is that soldiers come home in caskets.

(Applause among representatives of the SPD, ALLIANCE 9O/THE GREENS and the PDS)

Vice President Dr. Burkhard Hirsch: I will now allow a personal statement before continuing with the vote.

I give the floor to representative Marieluise Beck to make a statement on the vote.

(Waltraud Schoppe [ALLIANCE 9O/THE GREENS]: May I make a short interjection?)

- No, I’m sorry.

Marieluise Beck (Bremen) (ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS): Mr. President! Ladies and Gentlemen! The vote today is very difficult for me as well because I have similar doubts due to our knowledge of the situation and the conduct of the UN on site. I am not sure whether this decision will really lead to the breakthrough that some have portrayed here.

The 1968 generation—to which I belong in the broader sense—demanded of its parents that they finally break through the taboo of their participation or involvement in the Nazi system, and that they assume responsibility for it. Therefore, we must demand of ourselves just as resolutely that we discern with a sharp eye that which goes on around us.

The history of German Fascism has taught me that Poland, Russia and the peoples we attacked were able to defend themselves against violence only with military counterforce . Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers.

We are right to exhort that war must never again emanate from German soil. But the heritage of our fathers . . .

(Ingrid Matthäus-Maier [SPD]: And of our mothers!)

. . . also obligates us to take action against such violence when it happens again that a people are being exterminated.

(Applause among representatives of ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS, the CDU/CSU and the SPD),

When the community of nations acts together to that end, we have a moral obligation not to shy away from personal risk as well. I believe that this applies equally to people from Germany.

We know that the war against the people in Bosnia, the murder, rape, concentration camps and expulsion, are following a publicly and openly expressed will of Serb extremists for their extermination . We can all see who are the perpetrators and who are the victims of this war. I believe that the community of nations should have long since distanced itself from a position of neutrality to stand unequivocally on the side of the victims.

(Applause among ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS as well as among representatives of the SPD and rep. Hans-Dietrich Genscher [F.D.P.])

The decision we are making today does not mean that the civilian population of Bosnia will finally be protected by the deployment of the “rapid intervention force.” Perhaps this will happen indirectly, but it is not the express goal. The people in the enclaves and in the protected zones cannot understand why their lives are still not being protected. Humanitarian aid does not mean merely bringing flour, oil and sugar into the closed-in areas; it of course first and foremost means protecting lives.

(Applause among representatives of ALLIANCE 9O/THE GREENS, the SPD und the FDP)

At the beginning of the war against Bosnia, the community of nations missed the opportunity to clearly agree on a political goal. The blue-helmet mission was thus doomed to suffer one defeat after another. Peacekeeping in a country where war is already raging is absurd. The UN has been trying to deal with this debacle for the past three years. But those who are suffering are the people in Bosnia.

(Wilhelm Schmidt (Salzgitter] [SPD]: We’ve already had this! We’re waiting for a personal statement!)

I have a great deal of doubt as to whether the decision today will really bring about what the people in Bosnia really need: support for their side and the political will to prevent the murder.

I talked to the Bosnian ambassador this morning, and he told me that despite its reservations, the Bosnian government supports the deployment of these troops. Because I believe that the people affected are those who should be able to make the decisions and determine what is right for them, I have voted in favour of this government decision. What is at stake is not our own sensibilities, but rather the lives of the people in Bosnia.

(Applause among ALLIANCE 90/THE GREENS and among the CDU/CSU as well as among representatives of the SPD and the FDP)

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