Although the two demonstrations last weekend in Berlin both revolved around the war in Ukraine, the participants' views on how Germany should behave in the conflict could hardly have been more different.
Two of the demo participants sat at "Maybrit Illner" on Thursday evening. On the one hand, the SPD party leader Saskia Esken, who called for more arms deliveries to Ukraine at the rally on Friday. On the other hand, the parliamentary group leader of the left, Amira Mohamed Ali, who campaigned for a stop to German arms deliveries at the demonstration by Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer on Saturday.
The other guests on the show were Marina Weisband, a journalist and member of the Green Party who was born in Kiev, and Nicole Deitelhoff, professor of international relations and theories of global governance at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. Also connected from Munich was the former chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC), Wolfgang Ischinger.
The voices that are calling ever louder for peace negotiations are currently reflected in the statistics: according to Infratest Dimap, 58 percent of Germans are currently demanding more diplomacy. And only a third are convinced that Germany's current diplomatic efforts are sufficient.
Even before the war, Ukraine was "the second strongest army" in Europe, said Mohamed Ali at the beginning of the program. "And I really don't see that Ukraine can win this arms race against Russia."
International relations expert Nicole Deitelhoff found something positive about Wagenknecht and Schwarzer's demonstration last weekend: "The good thing is that it makes the longing for peace very clear." The general debate usually narrows down to the aspect of arms deliveries.
According to Deitelhoff, the problem is that the supporters of Wagenknecht and Schwarzer are unable to provide an adequate answer to the key question: "How can we create conditions that will allow us to come to peace?". The professor defended the demonstrators themselves: Above all, she saw “a lot of fear – and that is completely understandable”.
Saskia Esken judged that more critically. Above all, what she missed at the demonstration on Saturday was that there was no "clear rejection of Russian aggression".
The SPD party leader also defended the hesitant behavior of Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD): "We are not going it alone. We always coordinate with our allies, especially with the Americans.” The fact that the states that support Ukraine have stuck together so far and have not fallen apart – this “misjudgment” is “Putin’s greatest defeat ever,” said Esken.
The President of the MSC Board of Trustees, Wolfgang Ischinger, considers it "completely normal" that Ukraine, in its current situation, is calling for every support that is possible. He was certain: "If you want to prevent this from becoming a long war, you have to deliver more now". Germany shouldn't "dawdle" any longer. This is the only way to create the conditions for a negotiated solution.
"What I really miss is a recognizable diplomatic offensive," said Mohamed Ali. "Not every word has to be hung on the big bell," Ischinger replied, referring to the importance of secret diplomacy, which remains hidden from the public. Discussions and reflections are already taking place there “behind closed doors” – about security guarantees and how these could be controlled.
"I am so naïve as to assume that such a peace plan has long been drafted behind closed doors," Weisband said. According to the publicist, both the speech of the American President Joe Biden and his visit to Ukraine gave the Ukrainians a lot of hope.
In the course of possible negotiations, Ischinger spoke out in favor of a “political and strategic contact group”. This could initially be made up of a "close western circle", but should then try to "include countries like Brazil, India, maybe even China at some point".
In this context, Mohamed Ali spoke of "arrogance" if only Western states were to initially hold preliminary talks. In her opinion, one must “act directly internationally”. Esken added: "Interestingly, Mr. Ischinger listed exactly the countries that Olaf Scholz has traveled to in the last few weeks and that's where he had exactly these conversations."
In the end, Ischinger summed it up, "Putin will not be convinced by us, regardless of whether it's Joe Biden or Olaf Scholz." For him, only the "events on the military side" would count - these would have to be so convincing that he would sit down at the negotiating table.