Statewatch article: RefNo# 3146
GERMANY: Deployment of armed forces marks drive for a "more active foreign policy"
Statewatch bulletin, vol 11 no 6 (Nov-Dec 2001)
In line with Germany's drive towards a "more active foreign and security policy", 497 of 635 MPs voted for the deployment of 500 German soldiers under the auspices of NATO in Macedonia at a special parliamentary session on 29 August this year. The initial budget of 120 million DM was increased by 28 million by a special chancellery decision the same day. The decision was contested in parliament due to Germany's constitutional provisions against the deployment of its armed forces abroad, but it was also in line with developments towards the erosion of Germany's passive status within the European Common Security and Defence Policy. A month later, only 40 of the 578 MPs voted against the deployment, 10 abstained. As a result the German contingent was increased by 100-200 soldiers, and for the first time became the leading force on a NATO mission. With the attacks of 11 September, it appears that there will be no parliamentary opposition to armed forces deployment abroad. The Conservatives have now called for constitutional changes to allow for military operations to take place on foreign soil without prior parliamentary approval.
Alongside 3,000 NATO troops, German soldiers took part in the 30-day long operation "Essential Harvest", which oversaw the collection of weapons from Albanian rebel groups under the agreement which was signed by the Macedonian parliament and Albanian rebels in mid-August. The decision was contested from the left and right, although the CDU/CSU (Christlich Demokratische Union and Christlich Soziale Union Deutschlands) later supported the deployment of German troops when the SPD-led government coalition (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands and the Green party) promised a budgetary increase for the armed forces. Slightly shaken by the near break-up of the government coalition over this vote, Schroeder and his Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer, put their weight behind creating a united front for a positive parliamentary decision on the involvement of the German army in the NATO follow-up operation. This will officially last until 27 December and is supposed to ensure the peaceful return of refugees into politically precarious areas of Macedonia, and avert any renewed fighting between the UCK and the Macedonian army (operation "Amber Fox").

A flexible constitution for a flexible army
On grounds of Germany's history of military aggression, two provisions were enshrined in the German constitution in 1947, which banned its armed forces from becoming active abroad again (Articles 26 I & 87a II Grundgesetz). At the beginning of the 1990s, in particular after the 1991 Gulf war, UN representatives as well as leading German politicians started to demand that Germany's army take part in "international crisis management". After several constitutional challenges by the then opposition, the SPD and the liberal FDP (Freiheitlich Demokratische Partei Deutschlands), the demand was granted with a 1994 ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court, allowing for the "entry into a system of mutual collective security" (to which the Federal Republic also committed itself under Article 24(2) Grundgesetz), thereby paving the way for "typically related tasks and therefore also the use of the armed forces in military operations". The court interpreted the UN and the NATO as a "system of mutual collective security". Although silent on the question of an EU-led military operation, observers interpret this decision to include the EU. The ruling thereby legalised the involvement of Germany's armed forces in UN and NATO operations, however, it decided that the missions had to be strictly for the purpose of "keeping the peace" and that the government still had to seek a majority vote.
Now the Conservative leadership is demanding the abolition of this parliamentary restriction as well as a more active German army. Shortly before the parliamentary vote on the deployment of German troops in Macedonia, former Conservativ

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