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German politicians and artists call for new Russia policy

Date de publication: 05.12.2014

Open letter published in Tagesspiegel, 5 December 2014



War in Europe again?  Not in our name!

No one wants war.  But North America, the European Union and Russia are driving inexorably towards it if they do not finally put an end to the current unholy spiral of threat and counter-threat.  All Europeans, Russia included, bear a common responsibility for peace and security.  It is only by keeping this goal firmly in view that mistakes can be avoided. 

The Ukraine conflict shows that the search for power and domination has not been overcome.  In 1990, at the end of the Cold War, we all hoped that it had been.  The successes of the policy of détente and of peaceful revolutions have made us somnolent and careless.  In East and West alike.  Americans, Europeans and Russians have lost their guiding principle of banishing war from their minds.  There is no other way to explain the Eastward extension of the West, which is threatening to Russia, or Putin's illegal annexation of the Crimea.


Germany bears a special responsibility

Germany bears a special responsibility for the preservation of peace in this moment of great danger for the continent.  Without the readiness to pursue reconciliation on the part of the people of Russia, without the vision of Mikhail Gorbachev, without the support of our Western allies and without the careful action of the then federal government, the division of Europe could not have been overcome.  To make German unity possible peacefully was a great and thoughtful gesture by the victorious powers.  It was a historical decision.  Out of the overcome division a sustainable European peace and security order from Vancouver to Vladivostock was supposed to arise, as was agreed in November 1990 by all 35 heads of state and government of of the CSCE member states in the "Paris charter for a new Europe".  On the basis of mutually agreed principles and first concrete actions, a "common European home" was to be built in which all participants states would enjoy equal security.  This goal of post-war politics has still not been achieved.  Europeans are again right to be afraid.


Germany must call for dialogue with Russia 

We, the undersigned, call on the federal government:

- to assume its responsibility for peace in Europe.  We need a new policy of détente for Europe.  This can work only on the basis of equal security for all and with partners who have the same rights and who are treated with respect.  The German government will not be taking any special path if it still calls for prudence and dialogue with Russia in this muddled situation. The Russians' need for security is just as legitimate and as strong as that of the Germans, the Poles, the Balts and the Ukrainians.  We must not drive Russia out of Europe.  That would be unhistorical, irrational and dangerous for peace.  Since the Vienna Congress of 1814, Russia has belonged to the recognised powers which structure Europe.  All who have tried to change this by force have failed bloodily - most recently the megalomaniac Germany of Hitler which in 1941 murderously moved to subjugate Russia too.


"The federal government's duty to promote peace"

We call on Members of the German Bundestag:

- as politicians who have received their mandate from the people to respond to the seriousness of the situation and carefully to monitor the federal government's duty to promote peace.  Whoever creates only bogeyman images and who deploys one-sided accusations of guilt increase tensions at a time when there should instead be signals of détente.  The Leitmotif of German politicians must be to bind people in rather than to freeze them out.


"It's not about Putin" 

We call on the media:

- to fulfil their duty to report news without prejudices more convincingly than before.  The writers of leader articles and commentators demonise entire peoples without showing sufficient respect for their history.  Every journalist who knows about foreign affairs will understand the Russians' fear since in 2008 Nato member states invited Georgia and Ukraine to join the alliance.  It's not about Putin  Heads of state come and go.  It's about Europe.  We need to remove the fear of war. Responsible media reporting based on solid research can make a huge contribution to this.  On 3rd October 1990, on the day of German unity, the Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker, said: "The cold war is over.  Freedom and democracy will soon have prevailed in nearly all states ... Now they can intensify and institutionalise their relations so that for the first time a common structure for life and peace can arise from this.  For the peoples of Europe a fundamentally new chapter of their history is now commencing.  The goal is the unification of the whole of Europe.  It is a massive task.  We are able to achieve it but we might also fail.  We have before us a clear alternative - to unite Europe or according to painful historical examples fall back into nationalistic enmities." Until the Ukraine conflict we believed we were on the right path in Europe.  Richard von Weizsäcker's warning, a quarter of a century later, is more topical than ever before.



Mario Adorf, actor;

Robert Antretter, former Member of the Bundestag;

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bergmann, Vice-President of Alma Mater Europaea;

Prince Luitpold of Bavaria;

Achim von Borries, director and screenwriter;

Klaus Maria Brandauer, actor, director;

Dr. Eckhard Cordes, Chairman of the Eastern Committee of the German Economy;

Prof. Dr. Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Minister of Justice;

Eberhard Diepgen, former Mayor of Berlin;

Dr. Klaus von Dohnanyi, first mayor of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg;

Alexander von Dülmen, Director of A-Company Filmed Entertainment AG;

Stefan Dürr, CEO Ekosem-Agrar GmbH;

Dr. Erhard Eppler, former minister for Development and Cooperation;

Prof. Dr. Dr. Heino Falcke , former church Provost;

Prof. Hans-Joachim Frey, Chairman of the Board of the Semper Opera Ball, Dresden;

Father Anselm Grün, priest;

Sibylle Havemann, Berlin;

Dr. Roman Herzog, fomer president of the Federal Republic of Germany;

Christoph Hein, writer;

Dr. Dr. h.c. Burkhard Hirsch,  former deputy speaker of the Bundestag;

Volker Hörner, retired director of academy;

Josef Jacobi, organic farmer;

Dr. Sigmund Jähn, former astronaut;

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Margot Käßmann, former chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany, bishop;

Dr. Andrea von Knoop;

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, former correspondent of ARD TV Channel in Moscow;

Friedrich Küppersbusch, journalist;

Vera Gräfin von Lehndorff, artist;

Irina Liebmann, writer;

Dr. h.c. Lothar de Maizière, former prime minister of East Germany;

Stephan Märki, director of the Bern Theatre,

Prof. Dr. Klaus Mangold, Chairman Mangold Consultng GmbH;

Reinhard und Hella Mey, song writers;

Ruth Misselwitz, evangelical pastor in Pankow;

Klaus Prömpers, journalist;

Prof. Dr. Konrad Raiser, former General Secretary of the World Council of Churches;

Jim Rakete, photographer;

Gerhard Rein, journalist;

Michael Röskau, former director of a ministry;

Eugen Ruge, writer;

Dr. h.c. Otto Schily, former Minister of the Interior;

Dr. h.c. Friedrich Schorlemmer, theologian and human rights campaigner;

Georg Schramm, comedian;

Gerhard Schröder, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany;

Philipp von Schulthess, actor;

Ingo Schulze, writer;

Hanna Schygulla, actor and singer;

Dr. Dieter Spöri, former Minister of the Economy;

Prof. Dr. Fulbert Steffensky, Catholic theologian;

Dr. Wolf-D. Stelzner, WDS-Institut für Analysen in Kulturen mbH;

Dr. Manfred Stolpe, former Minister-President of Brandenburg;

Dr. Ernst-Jörg von Studnitz, former ambassador;

Prof. Dr. Walther Stützle, former Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defence;

Prof. Dr. Christian R. Supthut, former chairman of a company;

Prof. Dr. h.c. Horst Teltschik, former adviser in the Chancellor's office for security and foreign policy;

Andres Veiel, director;

Dr. Hans-Jochen Vogel, former Minister of Justice;

Dr. Antje Vollmer, former deputy speaker of the Bundestag;

Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter, former Bishop of Lübeck;

Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, scientist;

Wim Wenders, film director;

Hans-Eckardt Wenzel, song writer;

Gerhard Wolf, writer and publisher.


(Translated by John Laughland, IDC)

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