Resolute and concerted action in a difficult situation
“The Russian President is waging war in Ukraine, and in doing so he is also attacking our international values and norms,” stressed Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday after the meeting with the Heads of Government of the Länder. Together, they appealed to the Russian President and the Russian Federation to “immediately cease all acts of aggression and withdraw the Russian army from Ukraine”.
Pooling the strengths of the Federal and Länder Governments
Millions of people are currently on the run, most of them women and children, said the Federal Chancellor. “Our aim is to provide refuge and support quickly for all refugees from Ukraine who come to Germany.” The Federal and Länder Governments will join forces to offer the refugees the help they need. This will enable Ukrainian citizens to enter the country without a visa and receive a residence permit in Germany. They will be given access to numerous integration measures, such as integration and language courses, labour market access, childcare and counselling. Medical care is also ensured, including the provision of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
People who come to Germany from Ukraine are also entitled to healthcare benefits, e.g. medical treatment and treatment for mental illness, for example. They can obtain a COVID-19 vaccination and undergo coronavirus testing free of charge. Sick and injured people from Ukraine who need to be treated in hospitals are to be distributed to hospitals all over Germany based on the so-called cloverleaf system.
Read the resolution agreed on at the Federal Chancellor’s meeting with the Heads of Government of the Länder on 17 March 2022 here
Great voluntary commitment
The Federal Chancellor thanked the many volunteers and full-time helpers for their tireless efforts in coping with the current situation. People were showing an overwhelming culture of support and solidarity, said the Federal Chancellor. Together with the Federal and Länder Governments, they were alleviating the suffering of the refugees arriving in Germany and providing survival aid in the literal sense of the word, he said, and were outstanding examples of a vibrant civil society.
Rapid access to schools and daycare centres
In order to provide the necessary assistance to refugees and facilitate effective integration from the outset and at all levels, the Federal and Länder Governments promised rapid access to daycare centres, schools and universities. Measures are also being taken to protect refugee women and children against violence. Here, particular attention is to be paid to unaccompanied minors.
Joint financial responsibility
The Federal Government, the Länder and the local authorities are taking joint responsibility for providing the refugees from Ukraine with fast, unbureaucratic help. “This common task explicitly extends to the issue of finance, too,” stressed Federal Chancellor Scholz. Over the next three weeks, a working group will discuss the costs of accommodating, caring for and integrating refugees. At the next Federation-Länder meeting on 7 April 2022, an overall financing concept will be presented and concrete decisions taken.
Security promise for a peace-loving society
The Federal Chancellor also emphasised that there was no justification whatsoever for accusing, insulting or even physically attacking fellow citizens who originate from Russia or who speak Russian. Any criminal offence in this regard would be systematically prosecuted: the state’s promise of security applied indiscriminately to everyone in Germany, he said. The Federal Chancellor went on: we are a peace-loving society and will remain so.
Targeted Russian disinformation
The Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder made a clear appeal to Russian-speaking people in Germany to consult a range of different national and international media in following current developments. No one should believe the disinformation campaign being conducted by the Russian state media with its cynical and trivialising accounts, said the Federal Chancellor. Massive restrictions on press freedom in Russia were also sharply criticised and resolutely condemned.
Tense cyber security situation
In terms of the situation regarding cyber security, the Federal Government and the Länder will take all necessary measures to ensure that both society at large and the economy receive optimum protection in this area as well. This applied in particular to critical infrastructures and public administration, said Scholz. The Federal Chancellor and the Heads of Government of the Länder appealed to the business community – in particular all critical infrastructure companies – to ensure preparedness, take serious heed of warnings issued by the competent authorities and be prepared to act accordingly. They welcome the dialogue on hybrid threats that has begun between the Federal and Länder Governments through a Federation-Länder working group. Germany must protect itself more consistently against such aggression and take more resolute action, and the Länder intend to strengthen cyber defences for this purpose.
Safeguarding the supply of energy
The Federal and Länder Governments emphasise that the supply of energy must be secure and affordable. This is essential for businesses and equally so for citizens. As a result of the war in Ukraine, however, the tense situation on the international energy markets may intensify. For this reason, the Federal and Länder Governments have agreed to push ahead even further with the expansion of renewable energies. Excessive dependence on energy imports from Russia in particular is to be ended quickly. The Federal Government’s planned measures primarily include more efficient planning and approval procedures, the provision of sufficient capacity for renewable energies and greater consideration of efficiency and savings measures.
Diversification of energy imports
In the short term, the Federal Government will present a strategy to secure a reliable supply of energy as delivery from Russia is phased out. This includes diversifying energy imports and ensuring sufficient stockpiling of energy reserves. The Federal and Länder Governments will do everything necessary to ensure that Germany can import liquefied gas. In addition, port capacities as well as storage and transport capacities are being expanded so as to secure the supply of gas and petroleum products. Last but not least, the lifetime of power plants with base load capability is to be taken into account as a factor relevant to supply security.
Further relief in planning
The Federal Government has already taken initial steps to cushion the burden of increased energy prices – such as a heating cost subsidy for people on low incomes and the reduction of the Renewable Energy Sources Act levy to zero as early as 1 July this year. Further measures are being planned and will be coordinated by the Federal and Länder Governments.