Melnik, Putin and the culture of debate in Germany

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to: Alexander Esser Roberti

split, rip

In the Ukraine war, the climate in political discourse is changing rapidly – and this is a danger. A plea for more space, for counter-arguments. Comment by Alexander Esser Roberti.

BERLIN – The Ukraine war has stirred up emotions in Germany, too. This is noticeable, among other things, in the culture of debate: it seems that sometimes there is only one permissible position on handing over weapons. Anyone who questions arms exports runs the risk of being suspected of supporting Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. One of the people who is particularly active as agitators is the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrei Melnik. Russian President Vladimir Putin could benefit from Melnik’s actions. On the other hand, it is the loser of current discourse developments: debate culture.

Debate culture in Germany: opponents of arms and Easter rallies “Putin’s Fifth Column”

According to recent polls, the delivery of heavy weapons from Germany to Ukraine is becoming increasingly controversial. On the other hand, in public discourse it is sometimes possible to create the impression that opposing arms delivery equates to support for Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. Regardless of whether you support or oppose arms deliveries to Ukraine: the culture of discussion includes opposing views. When the deputy head of the FDP parliamentary group, Alexander Graf Lampsdorf, said of the organizers of the Easter rallies that they were “actually not pacifists, but Putin’s fifth column,” it was a dangerous shift in rhetoric, just as skeptics about arms deliveries were lost Ann Weil discredited it and described it as “morally neglectful”.

Andrei Melnik, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, has not only been attracting people lately with his style. (File photo) © Soeren Stache / dpa

Of course: In heterogeneous events such as the Easter parades, different positions converge, including pro-Putin ones. However, it is outrageous to accuse the peace movement of being close to the Russian president. The Southgerman newspaper In her article, she describes “peacemakers who send tanks.” A visit by Anton Hoofreiter to Marcus Lanz, which also shows a one-dimensional pattern: Hofriter makes the delivery of weapons a left-wing principle, while Lanz himself examines the skeptics of the round. It may seem as though the opposition in this case would be read as a form of “treason”, rather than a valid rhetorical position.

Andrei Melnik: How does the ambassador and Bandera’s friend play Putin in the cards

Andriy Melnyk is generally known for his vociferous style of debate. But the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany was criticized not only because of this: the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany does not hide his attitude towards the Nazi nationalist and collaborator Stepan Bandera. A few years ago he visited the tomb of the fascist leader to lay flowers there. Recently Melnik also called the Azov Battalion “brave fighters” and thus attracted not only left circles. These ambassador positions should also be discussed in the Ukraine war—and perhaps more so at the time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hypocritically justifies the aggressive war against Ukraine with “skepticism”, which is an obvious pretext. Meanwhile, Melnyk’s example shows that the problem of right-wing structures and positions cannot be formally explained, even in Ukraine – and yes, Russia also has a big problem with right-wing structures. who – which second abbreviation He recently addressed the question of who could benefit from Melnik’s appearance and came to an interesting conclusion: the newspaper wrote that Melnik gave those “one by one” who “sympathize with the justification narrative of Putin’s campaign”. This assessment is correct. Keep in mind that, like Melnyk’s positions, they should be allowed to be part of the discourse.

Melnik, Putin and the culture of debate in Germany

Now Melnyk, who is in great media demand and also likes to call Olaf Scholz (SPD) “offensive liver sausage”, is a particular example of the distortions in Germany’s debate culture. But the problem is urgent: it has to do with a culture of discussion that allows for differentiation, as well as different opinions. Gerhard Trabert recently made it clear in an interview with the Zone newspaper that he was not fundamentally against handing over weapons, but “no one should be discriminated against and stigmatized who take the ‘no weapons’ position because they believe or have gained experience in something like that always leads to escalation.”

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With this Trabert has an important point: even the most tragic situation in Ukraine must leave room for discourse, because this is an essential part of political culture. “No” to handing over weapons should be a legitimate position that can be discussed, even by those who see it differently, and vice versa. On the other hand, Andrei Melnik likes to adopt an offensive tone in discussions – his positions and his role in determining the discourse and its appearance should also be discussed. But in all this, one thing should not be discussed: a resolute condemnation of any aggressive war, such as the current Russian war on Ukraine.

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