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Peacekeeping Mission in Croatia: The Bundestag Resolves to Send Bundeswehr Units (December 6, 1995)

After the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords, the Bundestag approved, by a large majority, the deployment of 4,000 Bundeswehr soldiers in support of the international peacekeeping mission. Excerpts from the Bundestag debate on the deployment are reproduced below. During the debate, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, SPD party chairman Rudolf Scharping, Green Party representative Joschka Fischer, and others, took the floor to explain their positions on the resolution.

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On December 6 [1995], the Bundestag debated the deployment of Bundeswehr units to Croatia. Since the federal government had approved the deployment on November 28, a majority of the Social Democrats had already signaled their consent prior to the debate. Many Green Party representatives also cast votes of support for the Bosnia operation, although in doing so they abandoned important principles expressed in earlier party congress resolutions and ignored the most recent party congress’s negative position on the deployment. Recently, party faction spokesman Joschka Fischer, in particular, repeatedly stressed that insisting on pacifism at all costs was not appropriate in the current situation.

At the beginning of the debate, Chancellor Helmut Kohl made a policy statement in which he asked parliament for broad support in accepting the deployment of German soldiers for peacekeeping purposes. His statement is excerpted here: “Ladies and gentlemen, you can read the resolution of the federal government on the deployment of armed forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In making this decision, the federal government was fully aware of the great responsibility attached to it. The task of the Bundeswehr has changed fundamentally since the end of the East-West conflict. The expectations that the international community places on a reunified Germany are different from those that were placed on the old Federal Republic. [ . . . ]

We did not take this decision lightly. [ . . . ] We are well aware of the toll that this deployment could take on our soldiers. After four years of a wretched war, anyone who participates in the military safeguarding of the path to peace also risks life and limb. The war in the former Yugoslavia has brought a degree of suffering to the European continent that many of us no longer thought possible after the horrifying experiences of the Second World War. More than 250,000 dead, two million refugees, expellees, thousands of women raped, hundreds of thousands injured, destruction and misery on an unfathomable scale – we dare not forget all of this now that the present mission is helping to secure peace. [ . . . ] The signing of the Dayton Peace Accords created the prerequisite for finally giving the people of Bosnia a real chance at achieving peace. After four and a half years of suffering, the people of the former Yugoslavia can finally look forward to a new year filled with hope. [ . . . ] Our respect, thanks, and recognition go first and foremost to President Clinton and the American administration.

This successful outcome would not have been possible without the efforts of our American partners and friends. I emphasized this again to President Clinton in the name of our people during our joint visit with American troops in Baumholder last weekend. [ . . . ] This conflict has been going on right on our doorstep for more than four years. [ . . . ] Many citizens of our land have tried over the past few years to relieve the hardship of people in the war zone through personal aid. A lot has been done to ease the fate of more than 400,000 civil war refugees who have found refuge with us. [ . . . ] From the experiences of this century, we Germans know: the long-term outlook for peace on our continent cannot be good if there is peace in one part of Europe while a bloody war rages in another. This is why the United States is now willing, together with Britain, France, and other allies, to send soldiers to the former Yugoslavia to secure peace. We must also keep this in mind when we decide today about sending 4,000 German soldiers to support the NATO peacekeeping force. [ . . . ]

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