Retrospect on Germany: Monday, 11 May 2020

by Thorsten Koch

Karliczek: Federal government to help with vaccine

The German government is going to provide aid of up to 750 million Euros for the development and production of a vaccine against the Coronavirus. Minister of Research Anja Karliczek (CDU) said that, in addition to international efforts in vaccine development, the aim is to enable studies with a higher number of test subjects. For example, people with pre-existing illnesses and other persons belonging to risk groups could be involved. In addition, preparations should now be made to ensure that large quantities of a vaccine will be available mid-2021.

Towards the procurement of military drones?

This Monday, the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense, Peter Tauber (CDU), invited experts, association representatives and members of all parliamentary groups on the federal level to discuss the ethical and legal dimensions of military drones. So far, the discussion has been highly emotional. But it is always people who decide about armed operations. The use of drones for the purpose of targeted killings is impossible under German law. Tauber added that drones offer a greater deal of protection for soldiers in action. Inspector General Eberhard Zorn also spoke at the meeting.
FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann spoke to the DPA press agency in favor of military drones: “Germany needs drones strategically to protect our freedom and guarantee our security.”
“Drones are fundamental in the fight against international terrorism.” They can take pictures of the situation from a great distance and, if armed, ward off attacks at an early stage. Union defense expert Henning Otte told the Rheinische Post: “In my firm opinion, [the provision with drones] is ethical, fits the considerations of international law and is a political imperative”.

Deutsche Bahn with fewer passengers

Deutsche Bahn is coming under economic pressure as a result of the corona pandemic. Most of the Bahn’s timetable has been maintained for the purpose of providing basic services, but the number of passengers is in decline.
In a document entitled “Dealing with the Financial Consequences of the Corona Pandemic by DB AG”, the Ministry of Transport and Finance estimate an economic loss of 11 billion to 13.5 billion Euros by 2024. After the to-be-expected approval by the EU Commission, the federal government is ready to financially compensate 80 percent of the damage caused by the pandemic through an increase in the rail company’s equity capital – it is question of 6.9 billion to 8.4 billion Euros. There is also the plan to expand the current debt ceiling of around 25 billion Euros in order to compensate for damage from the current crisis through additional capital market loans.
Within “Systemverbund Bahn”, Deutsche Bahn is willing to pay a contribution of up to 5.1 billion Euros, which amounts to half of the resulting financial gap. The Greens have meanwhile asked the Federal Ministry of Transport to submit the rescue package to Parliament in a timely manner.

Demonstrations: against radicalization, but also against blanket judgments

In recent days, restrictions against the Corona pandemic have been met with demonstrations. Politicians warned that the protests could turn radical. Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) called for unity in the efforts against the pandemic. Spahn told the ZDF broadcast network that there were legitimate debates about the consequences of the Corona pandemic. However, it was also important to see in what way the debates are conducted. The polarization has recently seen an increase. CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak warned against the spread of false news. According to the political scientist Tom Mannewitz, some of the recent demonstrations have connections to the far right. There were numerous right-wing conspiracy theorists among the demonstrators. They played down the coronavirus as an “invention”. Earlier protests by the right have become smaller and more politically radical, over time.
The media scientist Bernhard Pörksen warned of condemning the demonstrators against corona restrictions wholesale. That could lead to indignation at unjust treatment. Nevertheless, conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites had to be named, Pörksen added.

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