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German conservatives vote for compulsory military service

Global conflicts herald 'dangerous decade': military think-tank
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The German conservatives on Tuesday voted in favour of restoring compulsory military service as the country aims to revive its army in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The CDU-CSU alliance, currently Germany’s largest opposition party, approved a motion tabled by its youth wing at a party conference calling for a temporary return to conscription.

The conservatives have already pledged to introduce a year of compulsory community service for young people, which could be completed in the army or by working in civil society.

But the youth wing argued this would take too long to introduce and put forward a period of compulsory service for a limited number of people as a stop-gap.

According to the resolution, the German army — known as the Bundeswehr — would determine its needs every year and a corresponding proportion of eligible citizens would be called up.

The proposal was approved with a “large majority” at a party conference on Tuesday, conservative politician Serap Guler wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

“We must not continue to leave the defence of our democracy to the principle of hope,” said Johannes Winkel, chairman of the conservatives’ youth wing.

He said compulsory military service was a “short-term and realistic option” to tackle the Bundeswehr’s personnel problems.

Germany suspended compulsory military service in 2011, but the conflict in Ukraine has reignited the debate around whether young men and women should be required to fight for their country.

Attracting new talent has proven to be a recurring problem as officials seek to boost troop numbers.

Despite a concerted recruitment drive, the Bundeswehr welcomed just 18,802 new members in 2023 — only 27 more than in 2022.

Daniel Guenther, the conservative premier of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, was among those who voted for the resolution.

Compulsory military service would be “a visible sign to Russia and others” that Germany is seriously prepared to defend itself, he said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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