Germany's Greens in disarray over Afghanistan
17 September 2007, Goettingen (AFP) - Germany's Green party, which when in power helped launch their country's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, on Saturday failed to agree a common line on the deployment of troops there.
17 September 2007
Goettingen (AFP) - Germany's Green party, which when in power helped launch their country's peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, on Saturday failed to agree a common line on the deployment of troops there.
A raucous party congress, aimed at bridging a deep rift over whether to pull out the military contingent, came five days before the parliament in Berlin is to discuss the issue.
A majority of the 800 delegates disavowed their leadership, rejecting a motion to unconditionally approve the planned extension of the troops' mandate.
Instead they adopted a motion setting conditions for the participation of German troops in any military operations in Afghanistan.
They also rejected any use of German Tornado reconnaissance jets in the war-torn country and sending German troops to fight in operations against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Party leader Reinhard Buetikofer warned delegates that a withdrawal from Afghanistan "now would not bring peace but a new escalation of violence, war and civil war."
Germany has pledged it will help Afghans to rebuild their country after nearly 30 years of war, he said. "I still believe this was the right thing to do and we will stand by our responsibility," he added amid heckling and booing by delegates.
Germany has deployed 3,000 troops in northern Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The Greens were the junior partner in a centre-left coalition headed by chancellor Gerhard Schroeder between 1998 and 2005.
NATO has led the International Security and Assistance Force, with contingents from 37 countries totalling around 39,000 men, since 2003. It has been in charge of almost all international operations in the country since the east came under its authority late last year.
Germany has also sent about 40 instructors to Afghanistan to train Afghan police officers.
More than 50 percent of Germans want an immediate withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan according to a poll carried out by the Forsa institute earlier this month.
Rejecting criticism by some political leaders and opinion polls showing waning support for the German military presence in Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday she wanted the troops' mandate to be extended.
"There is no alternative ... this military commitment is important for those who live in Afghanistan but also for the security and freedom of German citizens," she said in a video podcast on her official website.
Several hundred people protested against the German troop deployment during a march in central Berlin Saturday which ended near the parliament building.
Subject: German news