Djir-Sarai in an interview: "We have to ignite the turbo in Germany"

The traffic light has been reigning in Germany for a year and the FDP and Greens in particular have attracted attention with regular discussions.

Djir-Sarai in an interview: "We have to ignite the turbo in Germany"

The traffic light has been reigning in Germany for a year and the FDP and Greens in particular have attracted attention with regular discussions. In an interview, FDP General Secretary Djir-Sarai says why he doesn't think it's a bad thing and immediately launches the next attack. This time the question is whether the construction of motorways should not be simplified like that of railway lines. But he also looks at the situation in his native Iran. You were born in Tehran and have repeatedly commented on the protests in Iran over the past few weeks and months. Now a protester has been executed. Should Germany respond with sanctions?

Bijan Djir-Sarai: A real revolutionary process is taking place in Iran. The people want the Islamic Republic to be abolished. Clearly, Europe should be on the right side of history. Keeping a door open for nuclear negotiations would be the wrong approach. The regime has no legitimacy among the Iranian people.

Was it different before?

no Incidentally, I have been pointing this out for many years and was in the minority with this position for a long time. By now, at the latest, it must be clear to everyone: Europe should make a much clearer commitment to the protesting people in Iran. The executions are an expression of unbridled contempt for human beings and must be clearly condemned. We also have to talk about stricter personal sanctions. And about the fact that the Revolutionary Guards belong on the EU's terror list. For me, Europe is too hesitant on this issue.

You are in a coalition with the Foreign Minister and the Federal Chancellor. What do they say when you bring it up?

It is seen in a similar way. The Foreign Ministry has now summoned Iran's ambassador and has announced that the EU will react harshly to the execution. These announcements must now be quickly followed by action. Action must also be taken on the nuclear agreement - Europe should finally position itself clearly against a continuation.

Germany would be in the lead there.

It's always good when Germany takes a leadership role, ideally together with France. Politicians in Germany and in Europe as a whole must show solidarity with the people on the streets of Iran more audibly. The protesters also draw their strength from expressions of solidarity and clear support from abroad.

Do you dare to predict whether the revolution will be successful?

I am convinced that the regime can no longer contain this revolutionary process. But my impression is that it will be a tough and long fight by the protesters. The Islamic Republic is the mother of all conflicts in the Middle East. If their reign of terror fell, it would be a world event.

Let's talk about domestic politics. Once again there is a dispute in the traffic light coalition. It is about accelerating planning processes. The Greens accuse the FDP of wanting to promote the construction of freeways as well as the expansion of railway lines. That would contradict the coalition agreement. Is that no longer valid?

In the coalition agreement, all three parties have agreed that there must be regulations this year on how planning times can be at least halved. It's not about highways or trunk roads being built everywhere. It's about accelerating certain processes so that we can finally bring this country up to date in terms of infrastructure. If you want to build just one motorway exit in Germany, these are processes that can drag on for decades. That's not a condition.

And China builds hospitals in three months.

We shouldn't compare ourselves to autocratic countries like China, because there, aspects such as citizen participation, safety and environmental standards, and workers' rights simply fall by the wayside. One thing is clear: in Germany we have to ignite the turbo for planning and approval procedures if we want to get our economy back on track and modernize the country. You cannot distinguish between good and bad infrastructure. For climate protection reasons alone, we must prevent people from being stuck in traffic jams from morning to night, as is the case in some places in North Rhine-Westphalia.

You could take the train.

If you live in a rural area, this is not so easy. If we want to maintain our prosperity, we must also invest in infrastructure and speed up processes. Otherwise we just fall behind. That must not happen.

Nevertheless, the coalition agreement states that we want to give priority to railway lines, power lines and engineering structures, i.e. bridges, tunnels and so on.

You have to do one without neglecting the other. No transport minister has ever invested as much in structural changes at Deutsche Bahn as Volker Wissing. But the road infrastructure is just as important as waterways or rail.

Nevertheless, the impression arises that the FDP is about holding up the flag of motorists.

They are now taking off for other debates as well. To put it in a very basic way: the FDP is about strengthening individual mobility and putting our country on a modernization course. This also means that we remain open to technology and not demonize certain technologies. Speaking of the internal combustion engine: why do some believe that this technology will no longer be relevant in five, six, seven years? Especially if you can develop them further and use them in a climate-neutral way.

Maybe because Mercedes and VW don't want to develop new combustion engines?

I know that, but we should still keep the technology itself open. This is a strategic question.

Let's talk about nuclear power. There, too, there was controversy because you questioned whether the green-led ministries for the environment and the economy had carried out their stress tests on nuclear issues correctly.

In my opinion, these stress tests were politically motivated. There were also corresponding reports that there was no open-ended review by the responsible ministries. It was therefore all the more important that we as the FDP remained stubborn and steadfast in our demand for an extension of the lifespan of the three remaining nuclear power plants. At our instigation, the nuclear power plants will now continue to run beyond the turn of the year and thus make a decisive contribution to the energy supply.

Will you put the topic back on the agenda before the nuclear power plants go offline on April 15?

It is crucial that we secure our energy supply in the coming months in such a way that next year we will not find ourselves in a situation similar to that of this winter. It will be important to know where we are in the development of renewable energies over the course of the next year and what the energy prices are doing. The member states of the EU have resolved to stand together in the energy crisis. For a long time, no one at this level could understand why Germany was opposed to extending the term. Because this measure is also a piece of European solidarity: we are showing that we are making our contribution. Nobody can already say with certainty what the energy supply will be like in autumn and winter 2023. So we have to keep analyzing and evaluating the situation objectively.

So they want to keep using nuclear power.

The FDP is certain: the future belongs to renewable energies. Nevertheless, of course, all registers have to be pulled out when, like this year, our energy supply is at stake. However, I am optimistic that we will not find ourselves in a comparable situation again next year.

You are also committed to fracking. How do you intend to convince people of this? When you hear that tons of chemicals are pumped into the ground, skepticism arises.

Shale gas extraction technology has advanced in recent years. Gas produced in this way can be processed into climate-neutral hydrogen in the future. In addition, we will already be purchasing shale gas this winter in Germany via the floating LNG terminals. So the question is not whether we use it, but where it comes from. In addition, we have the highest environmental standards, which are not shaken. So there is a lot to be said for using our local deposits.

However, it would take a few years for the funding to start and by then, hopefully, renewable energies will have been sufficiently developed.

As I said, our goal is renewable energies, that's very clear. But what do we do until then? We have to shape the way there in such a way that it is not to our own detriment. Otherwise we will have massive losses in prosperity in the coming years.

Another controversial topic was migration policy. You have often been quoted as saying that German citizenship "is not to be devalued". What did you mean?

The Union has accused the coalition of "selling" citizenship. This is of course utter nonsense. I made that clear for the FDP and the coalition. The Union has overslept the urgently needed reorganization of migration policy in recent years. However, Germany is dependent on immigration into the labor market, because the lack of staff everywhere and the demographic development are causing problems for our country.

For you, should dual citizenship come at the end of integration or rather be a means of integration?

I never got involved in this debate. Successful immigration countries like Canada also have dual citizenship. But the point is different: we want to bring the brightest minds and the hardest-working hands to Germany. The so-called opportunity card with a point system recently adopted by the cabinet ensures that it is easier for people with practical work experience to work for us, in addition to highly qualified specialists.

Conservatives criticize that too little is happening on the subject of deportations.

We agreed in the coalition agreement that not everyone who comes to us can stay. This point is very important for social acceptance. People rightly want to know who is coming to us and they want immigration to have clear rules. This point is also essential for the FDP. It was agreed that there should be a special representative for migration agreements. In other words, someone who creates framework conditions for successful repatriations in cooperation with various states.

Will that be your FDP party friend Joachim Stamp from NRW?

I can't tell you. Others have to decide that.

The traffic light coalition has been in power for a year and there has been much controversy and discussion.

Discussions and disputes in the matter are not bad. In fact, they are part of a functioning democracy, especially in a governing coalition made up of three parties. I always say that the traffic light is a communication-intensive coalition. But since the results at the end of our discussions are good and sustainable, I can live with them very well.

But hasn't a lot of trust been lost over the past few months?

No, I don't see that. Trust is incredibly important. We struggle to find the best path for the country. This is the goal that unites us all. This coalition sticks together. The spirit of the coalition agreement still applies: we want to modernize Germany.

But unity is also important.

Look what this coalition has achieved so far. We provided extensive support and relief to people and companies in order to cushion the consequences of the terrible Russian war in Ukraine. Nevertheless, we are making record investments in the future so that the modernization of our country is not neglected. I predict to you that when we sit together in ten years, we will say: That was exactly the right coalition at the right time. Because the traffic light has made the great challenges in this country not only politically but also socially capable of winning a majority. The coalition is growing beyond itself, with each of the three parties having to give up their programmatically. We are doing this to keep the country on course in this immensely difficult situation.

Volker Petersen spoke to Bijan Djir-Sarai