Demands for the resignation of German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock are circulating on the web. During a podium discussion in Prague, Baerbock snubbed her voters. She reaffirmed her commitment to Ukraine, but instead of garnering public commendation, she found herself the target of ridicule after making this ill-considered statement:
But if I give the promise to the people in Ukraine, “we stand with you, as long as you need us,” then I want to deliver. No matter what my German voters think, I want to deliver to the people of Ukraine. And this is why it’s important for me to be very frank and clear. And this means, [with] every measure I’m taking, that they remain in place as long as Ukraine needs me. … We are now facing wintertime, where we will be challenged as democratic politicians. People will go on the street and say “we cannot pay our energy prices, and I will say “yes, I know, so we help you with social measures.” But I don’t want to say, “ok, then we stop the sanctions against Russia.” We will stand with Ukraine, and this means that the sanctions will continue on through wintertime, even if it gets really tough for politicians.
Unsurprisingly, her statement caused a lot of commotion in Germany. The head of the AfD, Alice Weidel, accused Baerbock of not caring about Germany’s citizens. “Not my words, hers. And in doing so, she admits that the traffic light coalition is working consciously against the people in this country,” wrote Weidel on Twitter. Sevim Dagdelen of Die Linke (The Left) referred to Baerbock’s “Ukraine first, citizens don’t care” policy as a “total failure,” and claimed that “77% of citizens demand negotiations on ending the war.” Norbert Röttgen of the christian-democratic CDU accused Baerbock of “fake heroism,” since a majority of Germans would be in favor of supporting Ukraine. “Democratic politicians must try to convince people with arguments, and not just by saying ‘basta’.”
Despite this blowback, Baerbock’s statement was defended by some of her colleagues in the Foreign Ministry. Peter Ptassek, in charge of strategic communication, took his ridicule to Twitter: “Classic: A misleadingly edited video, boosted by pro-russian accounts, and the instant cyber court, off-the-shelf disinformation is ready for consumption. Are we going to be divided so easily? I don’t think so.” This tweet was also shared by the official channel of the Foreign Ministry.
The spokesperson of the government, Steffen Hebestreit, also offered support to Baerbock by saying that “promoting the politics one stands for even when facing opposition” is part of governmental duties, adding that Baerbock, as well as the other ministers, has the chancellor’s full support in this matter. Also, public broadcasters offered Baerbock support, claiming, like a fact-checker of the Bayerischer Rundfunk, that the quote had been misconstrued because of the omission of some key words.
While the hashtag #BaerbockRuecktritt (BaerbockResignation) trended on Twitter, official reactions made it clear thus far that Baerbock’s statements will bear no consequences, at least until people take to the streets this winter, as Baerbock herself predicted.