Home Politics Monitor Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Renew list in the European elections
Politics Monitor

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, head of the Renew list in the European elections

Her first speeches as a candidate for the European elections focused on Ukraine and defense issues: for Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the war launched by Vladimir Putin showed the European Union that it had to assert itself as a military power. “We must remain united, we must create a common defense,” she said during the first debate organized in Maastricht, on April 29, between the heads of the list of the main European groups. We must wake up as the European Union, and we must do it now! »

Silver hair, dry and sometimes severe face, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has made a name for herself in Germany as head of the Bundestag Defense Commission. A shock parliamentarian, appreciated for her pugnacity but also for her sense of formula. “You have to listen to it in German, because then you understand how direct it is and how it was understood by the general public,” underlines Sandro Gozi, Renew MEP who will be at his side one of the standard bearers of the group centrist for the June 9 election. She is a permanent guest on German talk shows because she knows how to fight in TV debates. She has a very combative character, but she also uses very direct language, without ever being vulgar but very frank. »

A hesitant chancellor

Now 66 years old, a motorcycle fan and mother of three children, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann dreamed when she was young of becoming a radio journalist. But she made a career in publishing, before opting for local politics in Düsseldorf, then national politics in the ranks of the liberal FDP party. And it is therefore in the Bundestag, at the head of the Defense Commission that she stands out, by criticizing the weakness of the military support provided to Ukraine by Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor.

“She positioned herself against a chancellor who is extremely hesitant on these questions,” explains Delphine Deschaux-Dutard, lecturer at the University of Grenoble-Alpes and deputy director of the Center for International Studies on International Security (Cesice ). There has been a back and forth since 2022, with phases where Olaf Scholz is very forthcoming on defense issues, and then other phases where he is less so – as currently with the question of the delivery of the Taurus missiles. And this is where she can play a role as president of the Defense Commission. » The Taurus missiles, these cruise missiles that Ukraine requests from Germany but which Olaf Scholz refuses to deliver, are at the heart of a political battle which deeply divides the “tricolor” coalition in power in Berlin (Socialist, Liberals, Greens).

Missiles of Discord

“Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann rejects the arguments put forward by Olaf Scholz,” adds Hans Stark, professor at the Sorbonne and advisor to the French Institute of International Relations. The chancellor points to the 500 kilometer range of the Taurus, which would allow Ukraine to strike Moscow. However, some experts say it is possible to reduce this scope. Olaf Scholz also explains that German soldiers are needed on site to control the employment of the Taurus. Here again, experts say that others can do it in place of the Germans… It is these contradictions that Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann denounces – while in her eyes the delivery of the Taurus would allow the Ukrainians to strike the bridge of Kertsch, and therefore weaken the supply of troops in southern Ukraine. »

In this debate which is tearing apart the ruling coalition in Berlin, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmerman has become one of the German Chancellor’s most critical and feared voices. In Strasbourg and Brussels, it is towards Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, that the sharp arrows of the German MP could now be directed. In the first interviews given as head of the Renew list for the European elections, the candidate did not spare her compatriot, accusing her in particular of having delayed far too long in putting Defense at the heart of European priorities. As a foretaste of the contests which could pit the two women against each other in the European Parliament.

This article is originally published on rfi.fr

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