“The Greens have totally gone ideologically wrong”

Berlin FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai sharply criticized the Greens in the nuclear debate. The coalition partner had “unfortunately gotten totally wrong ideologically” on the issue of the temporary extension, he told the Handelsblatt. “Just because the party emerged from the anti-nuclear movement doesn’t mean the Greens can ignore the facts.”

In order to prevent a crisis situation, the three remaining nuclear power plants should remain online until 2024 if necessary. The Greens had categorically ruled this out.

However, the FDP does not want to turn back the nuclear phase-out, affirmed Djir-Sarai. “We stand by the social consensus on this issue,” he said. “Nevertheless, with today’s knowledge, phasing out nuclear power and coal at the same time was a mistake.”

Djir-Sarai also criticized Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens). “I am assuming that the economy minister said the first stress test in March was not appropriate to the situation,” he said. The stress test for the power supply from March to May of this year came to the conclusion that security of supply is guaranteed for the coming winter. Djir-Sarai questions that: “The lack of gas was not sufficiently taken into account.” He hopes that the current test will take place under realistic assumptions and will not be politically influenced.

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The FDP politician also called for a new stress test. “This is the only way we can take the right measures to prevent, for example, in the winter of 2023 we get into a similar situation as we are now,” he said.

Read the full interview here:

The war in Ukraine is a burden for the traffic light coalition – from the question of further relief in view of the high energy prices to extending the life of nuclear power plants. Do you see the coalition peace at risk?
The differences between the coalition partners are sometimes very large. We as the FDP are in coalition with two left-wing parties. In the coalition, we must ensure that Germany does not drift to the left but stays in the middle. However, I am convinced that this federal government is the right one to politically implement the turning point that we are currently experiencing. What is special about the coalition is that it is able to take very different ways of thinking and groups of voters with it, thereby creating acceptance for enormous changes. I don’t think black-yellow or red-green could have implemented the turning point like that.


On the nuclear issue, the FDP is closer to the Union than to the Greens. Your party wants the remaining nuclear power plants to continue operating until 2024, which the Greens categorically reject.
Unfortunately, the Greens got completely ideologically wrong on the issue of a temporary extension of the term. Just because the party grew out of the anti-nuclear movement doesn’t mean the Greens can ignore the facts. We are in a crisis situation and need to prevent energy supply bottlenecks during the cold season. This does not require shower tips, but rather a policy that deals with the facts objectively and soberly. And the facts are: we have to leave the remaining three nuclear power plants connected to the grid longer, if necessary until 2024.

Do you fear that the announced second power supply stress test could be politically influenced?
I am assuming that the Minister for Economic Affairs said the first stress test in March was not appropriate to the situation. The lack of gas was not sufficiently taken into account. I hope that the current test takes place under realistic assumptions and is not politically influenced. If a stress test were to be carried out, the results of which were known in advance, then the credibility of the policy as a whole would be damaged. But I have great faith that that won’t happen.

However, the stress test will not provide you with any arguments to leave the power plants online until 2024 – it does not test the supply beyond next spring.
Therefore, a larger-scale stress test is needed compared to the current one. This is the only way we can take the right measures to prevent a situation similar to the one we are in now in winter 2023, for example. Such an examination can also help to objectify the debate.

Nuclear power plant Isar 2

The federal government is under increasing pressure to postpone the nuclear phase-out.

(Photo: dpa)

The Greens accuse the FDP of a bogus debate and say that there will be no electricity shortage in the coming year with renewable energies, gas savings and coal power. A mistake?
Gas was needed as a bridging technology to shoulder the simultaneous phase-out of nuclear and coal. That bridge is now broken. There is no certainty that we will be able to do without nuclear power in the coming year. What is certain, however, is that extended use would significantly ease the situation. Above all because we will then be able to more reliably fulfill our solidarity obligations towards our neighboring European countries.

>>Read here: Everyone is their own neighbor: the EU countries have no plans for the gas emergency

How do you view the safety concerns of nuclear power plants, especially in times of war? Concerns about a nuclear disaster are growing in Ukraine.

The German nuclear power plants are among the safest plants in the world, TÜV Süd confirms that. I don’t think you can draw parallels between our plants here in Germany and those in a war zone. The shelling around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is extremely worrying and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. He must be hired immediately. In addition, international experts must be given safe access to the site in order to be able to assess the danger situation on site.

Does the FDP still stand by the nuclear phase-out? Green leader Lang accuses your party of planning to exit from the exit.
We definitely don’t want to reverse the nuclear phase-out. We stand by the social consensus on this question. The future belongs to renewable energies. However, with today’s knowledge, phasing out nuclear power and coal at the same time was a mistake. But, of course, we didn’t have the knowledge we have today. There is no one to blame. With all pragmatism, it is now a question of bridging a certain period of crisis well.

Will nuclear power be needed beyond 2024?
I think that the situation will have eased by 2024, since we will hopefully have made significant progress with the expansion of renewable energies by then. At the moment we have to be cautious and explore all the options that can help us in the current crisis. This includes the accelerated expansion of the planned LNG terminals, new energy partnerships and the examination of the development of domestic gas deposits.

LNG import terminal in Rotterdam

Such terminals will soon also be available in Germany.

(Photo: dpa)

China held military maneuvers off Taiwan. Do you fear a new war?
I am convinced that there is a real danger that China will want to annex Taiwan. The Chinese leadership is now watching very closely how the West reacts to Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine. China sees the West as weak and indecisive. Just a few years ago, French President Macron described NATO as “brain dead”. Beijing has heard that too. China poses a real challenge to the West and to Europe. Americans already understand that.

>>Read here: Ex-top diplomat on Taiwan crisis: “Xi’s message to Biden is: Don’t do that again!”

How should Germany behave? Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock was recently critical of China – and received strong reactions from Beijing.
We in Europe cannot afford to be neutral. If we want to safeguard our economic and trade policy interests, we must stand closely with the Americans. What we see is a competition of two value systems: autocracy versus democracy, like in the Cold War. The difference from back then is that the Chinese system and that of the West are extremely dependent on each other economically. If there is a conflict, everyone loses.

The German economy is concerned and warns of serious consequences.
For a long time we thought that China would improve in terms of human rights, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy. Today it is clear: the leadership in Beijing would never dream of adopting our values. I therefore urgently recommend that the German economy pay more attention to those Asian countries that share our values.

Annalena Bärbock

The Federal Foreign Minister criticized China’s behavior in the Taiwan conflict.

(Photo: dpa)

Do we need sanctions against China?
A Chinese military attack on Taiwan would be a devastating escalation of the status quo. China knows that too. In this case, it would be important for the West to react immediately with personal and economic sanctions against China. We saw in the context of Russia that such sanctions are effective and have power.

>> Read more: China already “extremely nervous” – SPD foreign politician criticizes timing of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan

Who should the sanctions hit specifically?
Personal sanctions would of course have to hit the Chinese leadership, such as Chinese President Xi, high-ranking representatives from the party structures and those responsible in the military. In addition, the economic sanctions should be based on those that Europe has imposed on Russia. However, economic sanctions would not be a one-way street, but would also harm us enormously, since the mutual economic dependencies are simply too great. That would be the price we would have to pay to credibly defend our freedom and our values. Therefore, it is also essential that the peace in the region is maintained and that there is no military conflict or even war. All diplomatic efforts must now focus on this.

More: Under these conditions, nuclear power plants could run longer

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