ROUNDUP: The Merkel government approved sensitive arms exports shortly before the end

BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – The old federal government under Chancellor Angela Merkel approved two sensitive arms exports to Egypt shortly before the change of government. This emerges from a letter from the then Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) to Bundestag President Bärbel Bas (SPD), which is available to the German Press Agency. After that, the armaments factories Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Diehl Defense are allowed to deliver three warships and 16 air defense systems to the hard-handed North African country. In the new traffic light coalition of the SPD, Greens and FDP, the last-minute approval caused anger.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs, headed by Green Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, distanced itself from the decision. There was also criticism from the Foreign Office. “I can not imagine that the new government would have approved this export,” said Minister of State Katja Keul (Greens) of the dpa.

Altmaier’s letter is dated December 7th, the day before the new cabinet was sworn in and Merkel handed over office to Olaf Scholz (SPD) in the Chancellery. First the “Spiegel” reported about it. In the letter, Altmaier, who is still Minister for Economic Affairs, informs about a total of three arms exports that the Federal Security Council has approved:

– Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is allowed to deliver three MEKO A-200 EN frigates to Egypt.

– The Baden-Württemberg company Diehl Defense has been approved to deliver 16 air defense systems of the type IRIS-T SLS / SLX to Egypt.

– Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is also allowed to export a 218 SG submarine to Singapore.

Last year, the fact that Egypt was number two in the arms export rankings with exports worth 763.8 million euros had already caused a lot of criticism. The country has come under fire for human rights violations and its involvement in the conflicts in Yemen and Libya.

The Federal Security Council is a cabinet committee to which the Chancellor and seven ministers belong. This also includes the finance minister. In the old government it was Olaf Scholz, today’s Chancellor. So he should have supported the decision.

The Federal Government is obliged to inform the Bundestag promptly about export permits from the Federal Security Council. It can therefore be assumed that the Merkel government was only in office at the time of the decision by the Federal Security Council on the sensitive exports. That had been the case since the end of October.

The CDU / CSU justified the export permit on the grounds that Germany had good relations with Egypt and an interest in stabilizing the country. In addition, arms exports to Egypt had been approved earlier, including submarines.

In his letter, Altmaier writes that the federal government would be “happy” to explain the export decision to the relevant Bundestag committee. The problem: just a few hours later, the CDU politician was no longer in office. It is very questionable that his successor Robert Habeck will represent the decision in the economic committee.

He let his spokeswoman Beate Baron make it clear on Thursday that he does not want to have anything to do with the approval. “These are decisions of the previous government, for which the previous government also bears full responsibility,” explained Baron. The new federal government provides for a more restrictive approach to arms exports. State Minister Keul referred to this and called for the consequences of the export permits: “The process shows that we should urgently implement this passage and get an arms export law off the ground.”

According to “Spiegel”, the Greens’ foreign politician, Agnieszka Brugger, insists on a “significantly stricter arms export policy that gives greater importance to human rights, peace and security”. The opposition Left Party also held the SPD responsible. Foreign politician Sevim Dagdelen spoke of a “rogue piece” of today’s Chancellor and former Vice Chancellor Scholz./mfi/DP/stw

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