Germany Authorizes Battle Tanks Exports to Indonesia

The German government has approved plans to export 104 main battle tanks to Indonesia along with dozens of other armoured vehicles — drawing criticism from the opposition in Berlin.

The government confirmed the authorization in its reply to a question from opposition Green party lawmaker Katja Keul, who released the letter Wednesday. The Economy Ministry said the authorization also allows for the delivery of 50 infantry fighting vehicles, along with 10 support vehicles and ammunition.

Germany has taken an increasing role in global security over recent years but remains generally reluctant to commit its own troops.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Indonesia last year, has argued that it makes sense to "help trustworthy partners" ensure security in their own regions, sometimes by delivering military equipment.

The opposition has argued that her government is too ready to export weapons to sensitive areas and complained that the process of approving weapons exports, with decisions taken in secret by a small group of ministers and made public only months later, isn't sufficiently transparent.

Last month, a German company said it had signed a deal with Qatar to supply the Gulf emirate with 62 new tanks and 24 self-propelled howitzers.

Gernot Erler, a senior lawmaker with the opposition Social Democrats and a former deputy foreign minister, said that human rights have been violated repeatedly in Indonesia so it could not be certain the tanks are being bought "just for the purpose of defending the country."

But Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, pointed to Indonesia's transition to democracy over the past 15 years and quoted Merkel as saying that the country has "an exemplary function as far as people of different religions living together is concerned."


Originally published on Edmonton Journal.

Photo by Kensai65.

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