Germany approves military's new role

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The Independent Online
BERLIN - German MPs yesterday approved the government's decision of last week to send a navy destroyer and three surveillance planes to the Adriatic to help monitor UN sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro, writes Adrian Bridge.

Denying opposition charges that the deployment was unconstitutional, government spokesmen insisted it was both legal and necessary, given the country's greater political weight following unification. 'This is not . . . showing off our power, but Germany making a contribution to peace in Europe and the world,' said Wolfgang Schauble, parliamentary leader of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats.

'The world has changed completely. We have to change too, and give new answers along with our allies,' said Volker Ruhe, the Defence Minister, who stressed that the German contingent in the Adriatic was not empowered to use force.

Yesterday's debate, which brought many MPs back from their holidays, was called by the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), furious at the way last week's decision had been taken without consulting parliament. Hans-Ulrich Klose, the SPD's parliamentary spokesman, said the government was surreptitiously trying to change the post- war consensus whereby German involvement in military actions outside the Nato area was considered unconstitutional.

Arguing that participation in the Adriatic mission was a 'helpless gesture', Mr Klose warned that the move could be a prelude to Germany being sucked into future wars outside its borders. 'This is a military mission and you should not lie about it,' he said, informing parliament that his party was to appeal to the constitutional court over the issue. 'The Bundeswehr is an army of defence, not of intervention,' he added.

The constitutional clause restricting the deployment of German forces in out-of-area missions precluded the country's full participation in the Gulf war last year. Chancellor Kohl, stung by international criticism at the time, has ever since urged amending the regulation to enable Germany to act fully in tandem with its Nato allies.

LISBON - The Portuguese frigate Roberto Ivens sailed from Lisbon to the Adriatic yesterday to join patrols monitoring United Nations sanctions against Yugoslavia, Reuter reports.

Portugal is a member of both the Western European Union and Nato, which are mounting the