I would like to extend greetings from Kristine Karch to the organizers and to you all. She asked me this morning to substitute for her because she is sick and could not come to Dublin. In East and West Germany we had lots of military bases. With the end of Cold War, the fall of Berlin Wall and the reunification we got rid of most of all but US military bases. This got me thinking. In Germany we still have many US military bases and they play an important strategic role for the USA. I would like to give you information on Air Base Ramstein. It is located South of Cologne and West of Frankfurt in a highly militarized area. There are many military bases located there, by the USA but also German military bases. Among others, the German Air Base Büchel which holds about 20 US nuclear weapons stationed in Germany via NATO’s nuclear sharing.
A commander of Air Base Ramstein stated the following: Air Base Ramstein is the largest, the most trafficked, best and one of the most important if not the most important military base in the world. Why did the commander give this statement? Air Base Ramstein is central to US European Command, it is the headquarters of Allied Air Command of NATO including the nuclear command, and it is the command center for missile defense. Thus you have the command of the sword and shield of NATO forces at Air Base Ramstein. It is also the headquarter of US Air Force in Europe and Africa. Also, there is a satellite relay station crucial for drone warfare. The former drone pilot Brandon Bryant informed the public on the role of Air Base Ramstein for drone warfare: Due to the shape of Earth no direct communication between a drone pilot in the USA and a drone in Yemen, Afghanistan or any other place in the region is possible. Air Base Ramstein is connected to the US drone pilot via cable and the satellite relay station transports the signal to the drone. Without the satellite relay station no drone warfare.
I grew up in the 80ies and 90ies and witnessing the wind of change leading to the end of Cold War era; the Warsaw Genuflection by Chancellor Brandt, President Richard von Weizsäcker speaking for the first time about liberation and not defeat that marked the end of World War II, the presence and importance of the slogan and statement “no more war no more fascim” for a reunified Germany. Having these themes in my mind it is hard to understand that the German government is accepting the role of and doings from Air Base Ramstein and is not doing anything about it. There exists a statute of forces agreement and it is possible for the German government to cancel this agreement.
In Germany, the Campaign Stop Air Base Ramstein was started in 2014. The campaign protests against drone warfare, demanding immediate closure of the satellite relay station. The campaign also demands from the German government to cancel the statute of forces agreement and shut down Air Base Ramstein. The protests in 2019 will take place from June 20-30 with a peace camp, a blockade and other non-violent actions, a demonstration, cultural events and for the third time an international conference on no bases. I invite you to participate in the actions and would like to see us continue the discussions of this weekend in Ramstein.
Lastly I would like to give you information about the next NATO summit taking place on April 4th in Washington DC. NATO will celebrate its 70th anniversary. I would like to ask all of you to discuss with your groups at home to participate in the protests against NATO around the summit. I do not want to repeat the analysis mentioned today but I would like to highlight the fact that NATO is the main driver for militarization on this planet. It is the largest weapons distributor in the world, it has global reach and focus with more than 100 partner countries. We need to overcome it. I agree with Mairead Maguire, we need a culture of peace but it is not possible with NATO. I hope there will be large united protests against NATO in Washington DC. We need to stand together in order to succeed. Thank you very much.
Lucas Wirl, Co-Chair No to War – No to NATO