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22:44, 02 March 2015 Monday

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Opposition to Merkel's plans to boost military
Opposition to Merkel's plans to boost military
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Increasing military budget would be wrong answer to current crises, says main opposition Left Party.

World Bulletin / News Desk

Germany’s main opposition Left Party has criticized the plans of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government to boost military expenditure.

Left Party lawmaker Christine Buchholz attacked recent statements by Merkel’s close aide, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, on Monday after Schaeuble claimed Germany would need to increase its military spending over the next few years because of recent international crises.

 Buchholz, the Left Party’s spokeswoman for defense policy, said: "Increasing the defense budget would be a wrong answer to the current crises and it would be at the expense of taxpayers.

"The German armed forces are likely to play a stronger role in asymmetric wars and in the confrontation with Russia."

"This is not only highly dangerous but also highly expensive," she said.

Tank battalion activated

Public opinion in the country has been largely against Germany taking any military role in international conflicts but, in recent months, German government officials have advocated a more active foreign policy supported by military measures.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced last week that, from 2016 onwards, the German armed forces will act under a new strategy and take more responsibility for international "peace and stability."

Von der Leyen told German armed forces magazine Bundeswehr in an interview published Friday that the German Defense Ministry had cancelled plans to phase-out hundreds of its Leopard 2 tanks and would instead activate a new tank battalion and was also reconsidering its policy of military deliveries, modernization projects and reform plans. 

"Instead of phasing out or scrapping the functional Leopard 2 tanks, we should now focus on ways to integrate our still good and available military materials with existing structures," von der Leyen said.

Strong capabilities

During the Cold War, German armed forces focused on developing strong defense capabilities and were equipped with more than 2,000 Leopard 2 tanks.

But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leopards lost their significance and a phase-out plan initiated in the early 1990s decreased their number to today's 280.

Von der Leyen underlined the need for increase in defense budget, particularly for the new modernization projects to better equip the armed forces.

Germany, Europe’s economic heavyweight, has the fourth-largest defense budget within NATO.

The German parliament has allocated €32.3 billion for the Defense Ministry for the fiscal year 2015.

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