Sputnik: Why is the proposal seen as something controversial?
Atif Tauqeer: The biggest criticism comes from Eastern Europe: the thing that Germany would offer huge pays and backup facilities, and experts from different areas would leave their own countries and German military. This is the major concern in European countries.
Atif Tauqeer: The general concept around armed forces is that the army or the main armed forces should be comprised and based upon nationals loyal to the State; and if this would be widened to other nationals, then this basic concept would be hurt. The most important part is the financial part that Germany could offer, because Germany itself is under huge pressure by the international community, and the United Nations plus NATO countries, as Germany has to increase its Defence budget up to the mark.
NATO recommends that Germany should have around 2 per cent of its GDP as spending on Defence budget and Defence expansion. Also, the international community is asking the German government to participate more in conflict zones — militarily, to help bringing peace in those regions.
Sputnik: Why is the Bundeswehr struggling to find recruits?
Atif Tauqeer: Since 2011 we have a problem here: there was a mandatory military service, which has then been abolished, and therefore now there's a chronic shortage of soldiers in Germany. So now in Germany, there is a very little trend to join military services. And on the other hand, normally in Germany, people don't prefer joining the military services. It has to do with the social structure of Germany, because here, from the beginning, in schools, there is no concept of such national or patriotic education. So people are trying to find out about other professions without working for the military or for the nation.
Sputnik: Do you think that the range of posts offered to non-German citizens will be expanded in the future?
Atif Tauqeer: Yes. In the future, it will be widened up. We have a national debate here, on the national television channel, and it's a very serious issue. We have to cope with that, and, as I said, in Germany we don't have that kind of nationalist or patriotic concept, so it's a very serious debate.
There is a little criticism whether we should do it or not, but at the same time, there're many voices in favour of that, as there is no issue having those people who are already living in Germany — around 500,000 people, aged 18 to 30; they are living in Germany for a long time, they speak German, they have the police certificate of good conduct and they are also committed to the German state. These are the three basic criteria to join the army. I think that in the future, non-German people, especially Eastern-European people who really want to work for the nation for a good salary and good services, will join.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.