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Germany will ‘defend itself’ against violent anti-vaxxers, says Scholz

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that Germany would "defend itself" against a violent minority of anti-vaccine militants who have threatened public officials.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Bundestag on Wednesday.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz in the Bundestag on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

“We will not allow a tiny minority of uninhibited extremists to try to impose its will on the whole of society,” Scholz said in his first speech as Chancellor to parliament.

“Germany will use all the means of its democratic rule of law to defend itself against this tiny minority of the hateful attacking the rest of us,” he said after police raids in Dresden following death threats against a pro-vaccine politician.

There is a lot of talk about the division of society, Scholz said, but he stressed: “Our society is not divided.” The new Chancellor praised the majority of people in Germany for showing “solidarity, reason and caution” throughout the health crisis.

In his address, Scholz said Germany would get through the Covid pandemic and see normality return. 

“Things will get better again. We will win the battle, we will overcome the crisis,” he said, adding that the government would do everything it could so that people could get back as much normality and freedoms as before the pandemic began. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s new government condemns ‘aggressive’ anti-vax movement

Scholz urged people to go and get vaccinated.

“My urgent request to all citizens of this country – help us to cope with this task, get vaccinated, protect your life and protect the lives of others,” he said. 

Scholz said the goal was still to get 30 million Covid jabs into people’s arms by the end of this year.

Since November 18th, 19 million doses have already been administered, said Scholz, adding that vaccination was the only way out of the pandemic. 

However, Scholz did not address reports from his Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, that there will be Covid vaccine shortages in Germany from January. 

‘Break new ground’

Scholz also spoke about the challenges of the coming years. He said the so-called traffic light parties – named after the coalition colours of the Social Democrats (red), Greens and the Free Democrats (FDP) – “will break new ground” when it comes to topics like climate change and the modernisation of Germany. 

The SPD politician also thanked his predecessor from the centre-right CDU.

Angela Merkel served Germany “in an impressive manner as Chancellor for 16 years, always oriented to the cause and the facts, always completely unpretentious and without airs and graces, always with courage and wisdom, with pragmatism and prudence”, said Scholz.

Scholz was elected as the ninth chancellor of Germany a week ago. The coalition agreement between the SPD, Greens and the FDP was signed at the beginning of December.

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TRAVEL NEWS

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

Germany's cut-price transport ticket is supposed to go on sale next Monday - but a battle over financing is threatening to torpedo the government's plans.

German states threaten to block €9 ticket in Bundesrat

An feud between the federal and state governments intensified on Monday as state leaders threatened to block the government’s most recent energy package when it is put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Friday. 

The battle relates to the government’s plans for a budget transport ticket that would allow people to travel on local and regional transport around Germany for just €9 per month.

Though the 16 states have agreed to support the ticket, transport ministers are arguing that the low-cost option will blow a hole in their budgets and lead to potential price hikes once autumn rolls around.

They claim that current funding promised by the Federal Transport Ministry doesn’t go far enough.

READ ALSO: 

“If the federal government believes it can be applauded on the backs of the states for a three-month consolation prize and that others should foot the bill, then it has made a huge mistake,” Bavaria’s Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU) told Bild on Monday.

The government has pledged €2.5 billion to the states to pay for the measure, as well as financial support for income lost during the Covid crisis. 

Transport Minister Volker Wissing. of the Free Democrats (FDP), said states would also receive the revenue of the €9 ticket from customers who take advantage of the offer. 

“For this ‘9 for 90 ticket’, the €2.5 billion is a complete assumption of the costs by the federal government,” said Wissing on Thursday. “In addition, the states are also allowed to keep the €9 from the ticket price, so they are very well funded here.”

Transport Minister Volker Wissing

Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) speaks ahead of a G7 summit in Düsseldorf.

However, federal states want a further €1.5 billion in order to increase staff, deal with extra fuel costs and to plan for the expansion of local transport in Germany.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Reinhard Meyer (SPD), told Bild that there would be “no approval (on Friday) as long as the federal government does not provide additional funds.”

Baden-Württemberg’s Transport Minister Winfried Hermann (Greens) also warned that “the entire package of fuel rebate and €9 euro ticket could fail in the Bundesrat” if the government doesn’t agree to the state’s demands on funding.

The Bundesrat is Germany’s upper house of parliament, which is comprised of MPs serving in the state governments. Unlike in the Bundestag, where the traffic-light coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) has a majority, the CDU is the largest party in the Bundesrat. 

What is the €9 ticket?

The €9 monthly ticket was announced early this year as part of a package of energy relief measures for struggling households.

With the price of fuel rising dramatically amid supply bottlenecks and the war in Ukraine, the traffic-light coalition is hoping to encourage people to switch to public transport over summer instead. 

The ticket will run for three months from the start of June to the end of August, and will allow people to travel nationwide on local and regional transport. Long-distance trains like IC, EC and ICE trains will not be covered by the ticket. 

It should be available to purchase from May 23rd, primarily via ticket offices and the DB app and website. 

Some regional operators, including Berlin-Brandenburg’s VBB, have also pledged to offer the ticket at ticket machines.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to get hold of the €9 travel ticket in Berlin

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