EU treaty approval shows Berlin schism

The upper house of the German parliament approved the European Union's Treaty of Lisbon on Friday in a vote that exposed fault lines within Berlin's local government.

EU treaty approval shows Berlin schism
Wowereit looking pensive in April. Photo: DPA

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit, a Social Democrat, was forced to abstain from the EU treaty vote because of dissent from his junior partners in the local parliament, the hard-line socialist Left party, Die Linke.

The Left has rejected the treaty, a new legal framework for the EU that replaces the rejected European constitution, as socially irresponsible.

Wowereit said before the vote that the Left had shown “they are not capable of governing.”

The Berlin mayor said it would be difficult to continue to work together if the Left continues to take its marching orders from national party co-chairman Oskar Lafontaine, himself a refugee from Wowereit’s more moderate Social Democratic Party.

Berlin’s was the only abstention on the EU treaty, already approved with a majority of nearly 90 percent in the lower house of the German parliament, the Bundestag, on April 24. Left party MPs opposed the treaty in that vote as well.

The upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, represents Germany’s 16 federal states.

Signed in December in Lisbon, the EU treaty has since been ratified by 13 of the 27 EU member countries and is planned to take effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

The Lisbon treaty amends existing EU treaties and replaces the controversial European constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. It includes most of the provisions in the failed constitution.



Germany’s defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since Russia's invasion in February, as Kyiv urges Berlin to send it battle tanks.

Germany's defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odessa, the German defence ministry said in a statement, without saying how long the trip had lasted. It added on Twitter that she had met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

So far, no NATO country has supplied Western battle tanks to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany to aid in its counter-attack against Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he doesn’t want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Lambrecht reiterated this stance in Odessa: “We will always confer with our partners about what Ukraine needs,” she said.

“From my impressions today, air defence and artillery are currently at the forefront,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

She added that she had seen how the “populations were tormented by drones”.

Lambrecht’s visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

These annexations have been unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies.

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the four regions, Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Scholz travelled to Ukraine in June, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has visited Kyiv twice.