Germany's Greens opened a weekend party congress Saturday with the coalition government
hanging in the balance over the planned deployment of German troops in the war
Party leaders said they were confident they would pull together enough votes
at the congress in this northern German city in support of plans to send up to
3,900 German troops to support the US-led campaign in Afghanistan.
Parliament's decision November 16 to offer German troops to the operation is
disputed within the party, born out of the pacifist and environmentalist movements
of the 1970s and now junior partner in government to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's
Both Schroeder and the Greens leadership have said that a failure to win majority
backing in Rostock for the deployment would bring the end of the coalition and
The prospect of Germany deploying troops outside Europe for the first time
since World War II has sparked a fresh crisis of conscience for the leftist party
and threatened to deepen the cleft between the party leadership and its rank and
"This is the most difficult decision in the history of the party," Greens chairwoman
Claudia Roth said Saturday.
Greens parliamentary leader Rezzo Schlauch said the vote would show that the
party was ready to accept Germany's growing responsibilities abroad.
"One must get used to the idea that working for peace can only be done when
murder and violence are stopped, and at times also stopped using violence," Schlauch
Schlauch said he believed the party would fall in line behind Foreign Minister
Joschka Fischer, the Greens' unofficial leader and an ardent supporter of Schroeder's
declaration of "unlimited solidarity" with the United States after the terrorist
attacks of September 11.
Fischer is expected to give a characteristically fiery speech in support of
the deployment to the party Saturday afternoon.
About 100 anti-war activists met the 800 party delegates entering the conference
center, urging the party to condemn the German deployment and the war carrying
banners with slogans such as "Active Resistance to Bush's New War" and "No Muzzle
for Opponents of War".
Party leaders have drafted a declaration offering tepid support for the deployment
and attempted to link it to a vote on continuing the coalition of Greens and Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats.
The move is aimed to put pressure on rebel Greens who were pushing for a motion
to condemn parliament's approval of the deployment by making it clear that such
a declaration would signal the demise of the center-left government.
The parliamentary vote passed by a wafer-thin margin only after Schroeder used
the same tactic -- linking support for the deployment to a confidence vote for
Copyright © 2001 AFP