German arms exporters lambasted by leading Protestant bishop

By Ecumenical News International
April 18, 2009

Germany's top Protestant cleric, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, has highlighted Germany's role as a major global arms exporter and he has castigated the fact that at his country has become the top armaments exporting nation of Europe - writes Anli Serfontein.

"The export of arms from Germany has increased by 13 percent from one year to the next," said Huber, who heads the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), the country's main Protestant umbrella.

"Our country now ranks directly behind the United States and Russia in this trade, and ahead of all other European countries," Huber said when he delivered his Good Friday sermon in Berlin on 10 April 2009.

He condemned Germany's robust arms exports industry, saying it is the one budget surplus the country can do without.

Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper had reported on its Web site that the list of foreign customers for German arms encompassed 126 countries, while arms exports worth 8.7 billion euros (US$10.4 billion) were approved by the German government in 2007. This was an increase of 13 percent compared to the previous year.

Huber said it was not acceptable that the world's crisis regions could be destinations for arms exports and he warned those responsible of the possible dire consequences.

"One day soldiers of the Bundeswehr [German Army] will be on foreign missions trying to stop violence which is being conducted with weapons made in Germany," Huber stated.

Germany, he said, did not need to prove its export prowess through the arms trade. "Our duty is to prevent deadly violence - not to cause death with the force of arms."

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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