Political debate on the Lützerath eviction: The fight of the Greens

Political debate on the Lützerath eviction: The fight of the Greens

The evacuation of Lützerath also occupies federal politics – above all the Greens. There, resistance also comes from the party base.

Yellow X battens are nailed to the entrance and windows of the Greens' Federal Office

Activists of the Interventionist Left in front of the federal office of the Greens Photo: Florian Boillot

DUSSELDORF/BERLIN taz | the Eviction in Lützerath is in full swing on Wednesday, then Vice Chancellor and Economics Minister Robert Habeck spoke out in distant Berlin to defend the police operation. Protest for climate protection is right, said the Green. But: “In my view, the empty settlement of Lützerath, where no one lives anymore, is the wrong symbol.” like Habeck. It creates legal certainty and serves to protect the climate.

But words can’t cover up that eviction hard on the Greens. Habeck had negotiated the “compromise” with the energy supplier RWE, together with NRW Economics Minister Mona Neubaur. She too had defended the eviction to the end. At the same time, the local green youth took part in the counter-protest on Wednesday. Federal leader Timon Dzienus will post a selfie with a clenched fist from there in the morning. “We defend Lützerath,” he writes. He later complained about the large police presence and a “sinister alliance against the climate” by the police and RWE, and then officials cleared him.

The Green Youth of North Rhine-Westphalia also called the eviction “wrong”, of all things in the middle of the climate crisis. “If we want to comply with the 1.5 degree limit, the coal must remain underground and in Lützerath,” says Country Manager Nicola Dichant. “That’s why we’re in Lützerath now and are committed to maintaining it.” And in Berlin, climate protectors protested in front of the Green Center and attached yellow crosses there – the protest symbol from Lützerath.

How difficult the Greens are with the operation is also shown by the fact that the party leaders Omid Nouripour and Ricarda Lang only spoke briefly on the radio on Wednesday – otherwise no statement for the time being, no tweet about the start of the eviction. Others in federal politics do it for that.

The federal government condemns violence

Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit refers to the “clear” legal situation. The federal government expects that applicable law would be observed. That in the morning too Stones, pyrotechnics and a Molotov cocktail flew at police officers, he comments clearly: The federal government condemns the violence. “We have no understanding for that.” It is up to the security forces to regulate the situation on site.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has also sharply criticized the attacks. “I have zero sympathy for violence and zero sympathy for dealing with political issues on the backs of police officers,” she tweeted. NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) is also “stunned” about it. “I don’t understand how people can do something like that.” Peaceful demonstrators should distance themselves from those ready to use violence and leave the village.

In fact, there are many such peaceful demonstrators in Lützerath. And the situation calmed down in the morning – the police force was too powerful. According to taz information, up to 5,000 police officers are on duty on Wednesday – the police have not officially commented on this. Almost all federal states sent hundreds, also water cannon squadrons or special units. A police spokesman initially left the number of arrests open, but spoke of several injured officers and at least one injured protester.

In the afternoon, Jochen Kopelke, head of the federal police union, is also standing in the mud of Lützerath. “I’m experiencing a highly professional police operation here,” he told the taz on the phone. The police communicate well. In the meantime, “absolute calm has returned”, also on the part of the demonstrators. The violence should be clearly condemned, but the range of protests was very heterogeneous, said Kopelke. “We had completely different concerns beforehand.”

The left takes part in counter-protests

Others see the police operation far more critically. Left leader Janine Wissler moved into the protest camp on Tuesday. “Here in Lützerath, RWE’s interests in profit are given priority over climate protection goals,” she explained on Wednesday. The left is on the side of the climate protection movement because people are more important than profits.

The NRW leader of the left, Kathrin Vogler, had also been there for a long time. She, too, complained about the “massive” police operation on Wednesday, which did not even allow the paramedics to get through. “It’s scandalous.” A police spokesman only says that professional help is always guaranteed in the event of injuries – but not necessarily private.

Green top officials from the state government and parliamentary group meanwhile repeat their mantra of the previous weeks. The phase-out of coal in North Rhine-Westphalia from 2038 to 2030 is “a milestone for climate protection”, says co-group leader Wibke Brems. “In the midst of an energy crisis”, 280 million tons of coal would remain in the ground and “five villages and three farms” would be saved. However: Wednesday is “not an easy day for us Greens and all people committed to climate protection,” admits Brems.

The Green NRW Environment Minister Oliver Krischer also sees the “coal compact” as an important “step towards climate protection” – after all, the Hambach opencast mine could be “reduced by half”.

SPD man and opposition leader Thomas Kutschaty, on the other hand, criticizes the silence of the government leadership around CDU Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst. Its black-green state government made the political decision that the coal under Lützerath had to be excavated. “In this phase, leadership responsibility would have been indicated by the prime minister. But as always, when things get tricky, you don’t hear anything from him,” Kuchaty told the taz.

Criticism also comes from the Greens

The Greens have reached Criticism has also come from within their own party. One could “neither understand nor accept” the eviction open letter, which was initially signed by a good 250 grassroots Greens and published on Wednesday, including Canan Bayram, a member of the Berlin-Kreuzberg Bundestag, and the former Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district mayor, Monika Herrmann. “The deal with RWE threatens to break with the principles of our party.” The eviction must be stopped “immediately and permanently”.

Around 200 cultural workers also demand the same in an open letter, including Katja Riemann, Igor Levit and the bands Deichkind and Revolverheld. You position yourself “as a soldier on the side of the climate protesters in Lützerath”. And the “Scientists for Future”, an association of climate-protesting researchers, are also demanding in one open letter a moratorium on the eviction.

Protest announced with Greta Thunberg

It probably won’t come to that. The police announced on Wednesday that their operation would drag on for a while. And emphasizes again that you only provide enforcement assistance for the authorities.

But the protest also announced perseverance. There are still squatters in Lützerath. And a large demonstration is planned for Saturday – in which, according to the organizers, Greta Thunberg will also take part.

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