Left-wing politician Sahra Wagenknecht has rejected criticism of her call for demonstrations for peace in Ukraine. "We are calling for a peace rally," said the former leader of the left-wing faction on Friday evening. "Everyone is welcome who wants to demonstrate for peace and against the escalation of arms deliveries."
At the same time she added: "It goes without saying that right-wing extremists, who are in the tradition of a regime that started the worst world war in living memory, have no place at a peace demonstration. We also reject party-political appropriation." Those who defame their call as "right-wing" forget that "it is not the call for peace, but the support of militarism and war that has been the hallmark of right-wing politics for ages".
Wagenknecht, together with the feminist Alice Schwarzer, had called for a demonstration for peace in Ukraine on February 25 at the Brandenburg Gate. The initiators were accused of not having clearly differentiated themselves from the right and the AfD. Schwarzer told the "Nürnberger Nachrichten": "A few dozen right-wing extremists against almost a million signers of our peace appeal. How much does that weigh?
The left leadership did not follow Wagenknecht's and Schwarzer's call, but instead made its own decision to hold demonstrations around the first anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine on February 24. It says: “Here it is clear to us that peace and anti-fascism belong together: never again war, never again fascism. In that sense, rights have no place here.”
The “Manifesto for Peace” written by Wagenknecht and Schwarzer, in which they call for peace talks with Russia, has already been signed by half a million people. According to a count of signatures provided on the change.org website, the number of supporters passed the 500,000 mark on Friday evening. The left-wing politician and the women's rights activist published the petition in mid-February.
In it, the federal government is called upon to “lead a strong alliance for a ceasefire and for peace negotiations” at both German and European level, instead of continuing to supply weapons to Ukraine. It says that Ukraine cannot win a war against the world's largest nuclear power. Negotiating means "making a compromise, on both sides".
The demands of the petition are controversial. Many commentators accuse the authors of blurring the lines between Ukraine as an illegally invaded country and the aggressor Russia.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the Funke Mediengruppe newspapers and the French newspaper Ouest-France (Friday editions) that he currently sees no chance for diplomatic initiatives to end the war in his country. "I like anyone who wants to achieve peace through diplomatic initiatives," Kuleba said. “But how can such an initiative work? Should the price of peace be that Russia stays in the occupied territories?”
French President Emmanuel Macron also sees no scope for negotiations with Moscow in the Ukraine war. It is "not the time for dialogue" with Russia, Macron said on Friday at the Munich Security Conference. Russia has “chosen war”. Negotiations could only take place under conditions that "Ukraine chooses," Macron said.
The former chairwoman of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Margot Käßmann, defended the manifesto written by Alice Schwarzer and Sahra Wagenknecht. "I support the manifesto because the public discourse has not yet reflected that half of the people in Germany are critical of the arms deliveries," Käßmann told the "Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger". "But this attitude is mercilessly crushed in the debate."
In addition to Käßmann, politicians Oskar Lafontaine, painter Markus Lüpertz and singer Reinhard Mey also signed.
Political scientist Johannes Varwick has meanwhile revoked his original support. He wrote on Twitter that, in his opinion, the demarcation from the right-wing spectrum was not sufficient. On the one hand, the list of signatories "increasingly includes people with whom I do not wish to be named". Applause from the wrong side is not a problem for him, he continues. "But that requires a clear distancing from those supporters who are deemed unacceptable."
According to Varwick, he was also bothered by statements by the two organizers, who had explained in an interview that dissidents were also welcome at the planned, supportive demonstration on February 25 in Berlin (2 p.m.).
“Anyone who wants to demonstrate with an honest heart for peace and negotiations is welcome at our rally. Right-wing extremist flags or symbols, on the other hand, have no place on it and will not be tolerated," said Der Spiegel.
Furthermore, details such as the almost humorous presentation of such a serious matter in a video message distributed online would have bothered him, Varwick continued.
In an interview with the “Kölner Stadtanzeiger”, Margot Käßmann meanwhile described Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “war criminal”. Nevertheless, negotiations must be carried out with him in order to prevent further hundreds of thousands of deaths. She misses self-distance and respect for opposing opinions among supporters of arms deliveries. "It's not just like Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock claims that 'our guns protect lives'." These weapons also kill.”
In sharp words, the former state bishop of Hanover then defended herself against the criticism of the Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrij Melnyk, who had described Käßmann as a "pastor of shame" because of her support of the manifesto. She wonders "if he has the slightest idea about the New Testament and its message of peace to the people," she said.