Ecumenical News International

EKD Council Chair calls for more controls for arms exports

May 21, 20213

Berlin (epd). Nikolaus Schneider, Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) has reiterated his criticism of German weapons exports. Germany's "federal security council" in charge of approving weapons and armament supplies abroad needs "a higher degree of parliamentary supervision," he claimed on Monday, speaking at a panel discussion in Berlin. This body meets behind closed doors and should be made much more transparent and accountable, in his view.

Schneider was taking part in a discussion entitled "Building peace or weapons?" on the occasion of interreligious prayers for peace at Berlin's Holy Cross Church. The EKD Council Chair also criticized the controversial deployment of combat drones. This technology was "not appropriate for the federal defense forces or the military"; instead, Schneider warned, it was "a dangerous development, because it made the order to use weapons more anonymous, creating distance and dissolving responsibilities".

Germany is the third biggest weapons exporter in the world after the United States and Russia. Schneider said that the goal of making weapons exports more transparent, and of arms reduction, called for "a lot of perseverance". Conversion of the industry was possible, however. While about 80,000 people in Germany work in the weapons and armament industry this was not an enormous share of the whole economy: "Those are not huge figures," Schneider declared.

The production and export of small arms, machine guns and automatic rifles must be given more attention. They caused the death of most people every year. "We don't need to tackle big shipyards - we can start with Heckler & Koch," Schneider underlined, referring to the major German small arms manufacturer. (epd)



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