Federal press ball over Ukraine – without prominent politicians

Politicians were largely absent. Clothes were darker, bars and dance halls less crowded, and speeches more important. The Federal Press Ball, the annual party of journalists in the capital, has never been as political as it was in 2022.

In recent years, the Corona pandemic has caused many delays. Now Russia’s attack on Ukraine has given the ball on Friday night at Berlin’s Hotel Adlon at the Brandenburg Gate a new face and turned it into a “solidarity ball” for Ukraine.

The ambassador criticizes the absence of many politicians

Unlike in the past, the focus has not been on the Federal President, who this year canceled due to the war, senior government officials or celebrities. The attention of many journalists, publishers, moderators, directors, lobbyists and politicians at the 69th session of the federal press focused on Ukrainian Ambassador Andrey Melnik, who has already upset parts of politics in the past few weeks with his demands for heavy weapons and unusually clear words.

The federal press conference, the capital’s union of journalists, had asked Melnick to give a short speech. And use it in clear ads. Melnyk thanked the press for its necessary coverage of the war and credited the ball to Ukrainian performers and fundraising for Ukrainian journalists as a show of solidarity. He apparently criticized Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s abolition and the entire federal government: “I think it is unfortunate that so many politicians shine chiefly through their absence. But if you hope to avoid critical questions, you are wrong.”

A “turning point” in the issue of arms delivery

Only the media, by asking questions about the federal government’s “hesitant” position on the subject of arms shipments, would have created pressure without which the “tipping point” would not have been possible, Melnick said. Ukraine needs weapons to penetrate so that it does not lose its existence. Then he turned directly to the journalists in the main dining room, who applauded him insistently: “If the war continues for a long time, the attention of the media threatens to fade. So I ask you not to lose interest in what is happening to Ukraine, otherwise people will die unnoticed. And when people die. Without anyone noticing them, the truth also dies.”

Due to the Corona pandemic, the organizers reduced the number of guests in tuxedos and evening dresses by 500, so there was less crowding on the red carpet, where singer Natalia Klitschko, wife of Vitali Klitschko, former professional boxer and current mayor. From the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, thanks. “It’s about the cohesion, the support, and the help of the German people is incredible.”

Kubicki: ‘We don’t have to cancel everything’

Vice President of the Bundestag Wolfgang Kubiki (FDP) came in a blue and yellow tie, and many visitors wore blue and yellow brooches or ribbons, the national colors of Ukraine. “We celebrate with the help of journalists. I don’t think we have to cancel everything either,” said Kubiki, CDU president Fredrik Merz and his wife similarly. They came “because we know this ball of journalism is doing something for Ukraine.” He defended his party friends and said he understood the ministers when they said, “We don’t feel like partying.”

As is often the case, Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth (the Greens), a regular guest at the ball, was the most emotional. “This is a strong reference to an essential component of our democracy which is a free and independent press. This is very important because this war is also a war against culture and a war of propaganda.” But also: “This is definitely not a stress ball that we were looking forward to so long after Corona.”

Good vibes, Ukrainian artists and donations

In my champagne seat on the first floor of the Adlon, at the buffets and beer stalls, the mood was in no way depressed because it was getting late. Ukrainian artists gave performances, dance floors filled up, big bands and quartets played, and later DJs played. The smoker’s bar, hidden away at the end of a corridor behind a restaurant, was the busiest and loudest. Hostesses wandered with large collection boxes filled with banknotes. Someone said a lot would be donated. Most guests transfer money using their mobile phones.

The theme of the evening can also be seen by tourists who wander by the Brandenburg Gate at the parapets in front of the Adlon. Blue and yellow spotlights lit up the hotel and the sky.

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