Olaf Scholz was on fire when he answered opposition leader Friedrich Merz in the budget debate in the Bundestag. The press thought it was quite entertaining.

For weeks, Olaf Scholz had been scolded for acting too hesitantly in the Ukraine crisis and for not explaining his politics enough. These accusations should be over after the Chancellor’s speech in the budget debate. With the announcement that Ukraine would soon be supplied with a modern air defense system, he actually managed something of a liberation.

The reason for Scholz’ combative appearance was the speech by opposition leader Friedrich Merz. At the beginning of the debate, Scholz accused Scholz of a lack of support from Ukraine: “You’ve been talking a little more than usual lately, but you’re still saying nothing.” Scholz, in turn, accused Merz of always asking questions and never positioning himself clearly. “You danced through the matter here and didn’t say anything specific,” Scholz called out to the CDU leader.

In any case, it was a real exchange of blows, as the press also judged afterwards. A selection:

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s policy was put to the test

“Badische Zeitung”: “Officially, it was only about the budget of the Chancellor’s Office. In truth, the Chancellor’s policy was put to the test during the general debate. Is Olaf Scholz doing everything right, as he thinks? Or is he doing a lot of things wrong, especially in dealings with Russia’s war against Ukraine? Judging by how doggedly Scholz justified his actions and inactions, the impression came up: The Chancellor considered self-defense to be urgent. Not only in his own country, but also among partners and in Ukraine, there is frustration about Germany’s delays -Solidarity in matters of weapon aid. A lot is promised, little is delivered. It remains to be seen whether that will be different with Scholz’s new promise. (…)”

“Leipziger Volkszeitung”: “The Chancellor’s most recent announcement came as a surprise, and according to experts, its implementation will help Ukraine: the announcement that multiple rocket launchers and a modern anti-aircraft system will be sent to the country attacked by Russia Winning back his Ukraine policy, which has recently been lost, is another matter.First, one must defend the chancellor against accusations that he is effectively leaving Ukraine out in the rain.From the US, Great Britain and some Eastern Europeans States, Germany is moving in a convoy of restraint.”

“Reutlinger General-Anzeiger”: “During the general debate, the Scholz of the change of times speech could be seen again. An energetic chancellor who shows strong leadership and yet weighs up the risk with a cool head. But there is also an Olaf Scholz who stands behind Idioms and empty phrases are hidden and raises more questions than answers. The citizens want to trust their chancellor. But the two faces of Olaf Scholz make it difficult for them to know who they are dealing with.”

“OM-Mediengruppe”: “495.8 billion euros is the volume of the federal budget for 2022. To clarify: That is the sum that around 2.12 million civil servants in the last seniority step of salary A 13 earn together in the year. Of course, Because of the war in Ukraine instigated by Russia, 2022 is just as special from a budgetary point of view as 2020 and 2021 were because of the corona pandemic It is long past time for the federal government to take a clear fiscal stance. Even in times of major crises. Even if it’s particularly difficult then.”

“Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung”: “Military experts agree: A ceasefire will only come about when no war party would benefit from fighting. Putin must therefore be stopped in order to negotiate. If that is also the intention of the Chancellor, the question arises as to why only now is the support that Kyiv has been begging for so long coming. Don’t provoke Putin, don’t risk a third world war, don’t take away weapons from the Bundeswehr – those were the counter-arguments. Now they seem like excuses. At least it doesn’t look like the chancellor needed all that time , in order to quietly prepare the arms deliveries. Rather, the impression is given that he has bowed to public and international pressure.”

“Berliner Zeitung”: “Whenever Olaf Scholz comes under pressure because the promised weapons from Germany are not being delivered to Ukraine, the chancellor uses a trick: he announces the delivery of other weapons. When the Ukrainians wanted martens and leopards, they got them they surprisingly promised cheetahs. When it turned out that there was no ammunition for the anti-aircraft tanks, self-propelled howitzers were announced. Now that neither of these have arrived in Ukraine, guided missiles are to come. Scholz gave the same impression in the Bundestag as before: In the Military solidarity is invoked in the foreground, while arms deliveries are slowed down in the background.The chancellor is apparently worried that he could scare off war-skeptical SPD voters with robust deliveries.But with his back and forth he alienated them – and at the same time those who wanted more support for Ukraine to wish.”

“Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”: “Germany does not need to hide,” exclaimed the Federal Chancellor, announcing the delivery of a modern air defense system. (…) But why did the government only commit to this three months after the start of the war, which Scholz also called “criminal”? determined, in which several large cities have already been destroyed? (…) It is unmistakable that Scholz has to take into account the mental anguish that the young and old left in the SPD have been suffering from since the proclamation of the “turn of the era”. Berlin, like the rest of the West, is struggling with conflicting interests: they want to help those who have been attacked to repel an aggressor who has not only attacked a country, but also the principles of peaceful coexistence in Europe. But you don’t want to become a war party yourself.”

What makes democracy so valuable

“Ludwigsburger Kreiszeitung”: “What democracy means, what makes it so valuable, could be observed yesterday morning in the Bundestag. The viewer was offered a passionate and hard exchange of blows between opposition leader Friedrich Merz and Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz about Ukraine policy. Merz accused him Chancellor nothing less than misleading the public: Scholz claims that Germany is doing everything to support Ukraine in the war against Russia, but in truth it has hardly supplied any weapons so far, and why doesn’t the Chancellor finally say that Ukraine The chancellor defended himself with unusual emotionality and clarity. Germany does supply many weapons, including heavy ones, such as the Gepard tank, which Ukraine, contrary to what was claimed, ordered, self-propelled howitzers and, soon, state-of-the-art air defense systems and tracking radars.”

“Corriere della Sera”: “Yesterday morning, in the debate on the budget law in the Bundestag, Olaf Scholz raised his voice and pulled out his claws. The head of the Christian Democratic opposition, Friedrich Merz, stoned him and accused him of interfering with the arms deliveries to Ukraine hesitating and undermining Germany’s credibility. Not at all intimidated, the chancellor responded with a volley of facts and figures on supplies to Kyiv, including a state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system (…).”