Hannahs Monthly


Hannahs Monthly: Coronavirus, the Munich Security Conference and my trip to Saudi Arabia and Oman

The coronavirus has the world firmly in its grip – and with it the European Parliament. After the week of plenary sessions scheduled for 9-12 March was initially moved from Strasbourg to Brussels, the session was later shortened to one day. This then also affected one of my main projects this month – a resolution on the forthcoming IRENE mission to help enforce the arms embargo on Libya.

As the Parliament ordered teleworking, the Brussels Parliament building emptied quite quickly afterwards. In the meantime I have returned to Germany to my family and have set up in my home office or my constituency office in Greifswald. How it feels to do parliamentary work in times of Corona, I have talked about it with the euobserver.

As a direct consequence of the Corona crisis, I will interrupt my Berlin and Greifswald consultation hours until further notice. Instead, I now offer a virtual consultation hour – not only for Berliners and Greifswalder! For the first time the consultation will take place this Friday, from 2 to 3 pm – here is the registration link. If you want, you can ask me questions in advance – for example on Twitter or Facebook. And of course I will keep you up to date on my Instagram account!

The situation in Idlib and "restlessness" on climate and feminism

But from the beginning: In February the plenary week still took place in Strasbourg as usual, and the situation of the people in Idlib (Syria) was on the agenda. At that time there was no ceasefire, and therefore my main demand to the EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Joseph Borrell was to exactly commit himself to it. I am glad that such a ceasefire has now been agreed – but other important measures have not yet been implemented: For example, war crimes must be documented and reception contingents for the weakest should they succeed in leaving Idlib.

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After the plenary week I went to the Munich Security Conference. This time the topic was “Westlessness” (a combination of the words “West” and “restlessness”) – an allusion to the difficult transatlantic relationship. The EU has to play a bigger role on the world stage – how exactly this should be achieved, however, German government representatives* had little to say. What we urgently need now, therefore, is a Franco-German debate on how we can tackle the challenges in our neighbourhood together – I have also explained this on euractiv. Unfortunately, the proportion of women at the conference was only 20%, which also has to do with the fact that women are simply not sufficiently represented in foreign and security policy. So we need “restlessness” on the subject of feminism – and also on the subject of climate. After all, sustainability and security belong together!

No sooner was the security conference over than the racist attack in Hanau tore me away from everyday life. On the one hand I was shocked by the many fatalities, on the other hand I was angry: As Greens we have been warning for a long time against violence from the far right – and the attack in Hanau is only the last in a long series of similar acts. The danger has simply been ignored for far too long.

Together we stand against hatred and nationalism and for peaceful coexistence. After the assassination, we Greens therefore organized a public vigil in front of the European Parliament.

Fugitives are people - and a person is not a wave!

On March 8, International Women’s Day was celebrated worldwide – including numerous demonstrations for women’s rights. But equality is not only a question of fairness, it also helps to make the world a safer place. How exactly, I wrote down for euractiv.

I was later interviewed on the same topic by the Rostock local radio station LOHRO. I also talked to LOHRO about the situation of the refugees at the Greek-Turkish border and on the Greek islands, which is currently becoming more and more dramatic. One of my main points: Fugitives are people – and a person is not a wave! I made this clear together with many other Members of Parliament during a joint action in the Parliament.

One of the highlights of the last few weeks for me was certainly the trip to Saudi Arabia and Oman as head of the parliamentary delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula. In recent years, Saudi society has opened up more and more, and that includes women’s rights. In a personal conversation, two women who were among the first female members of the Shura Council to conquer political terrain told me how life has changed for them.

Hannah meeting a delegation of Saudi Officials

Nevertheless, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains worrying. Therefore, the situation of human rights defenders* was one of the main topics of our meetings with the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, the members of the Shura Council and the Saudi Human Rights Commission. We mentioned, for example, the Sakharov Prize winner Raif Badawi and the cases of five imprisoned women’s rights activists – among them Lujain al-Hathloul, whose trial was postponed indefinitely.


Feminist foreign policy is one of my heart’s desire, because: Women belong at the negotiating table! How important this is is also shown by a study by the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy, which I commissioned together with the Spanish Green Ernest Urtasun. On 26 March (Thursday), 8 p.m., I will moderate the webinar “Women at the negotiating table! What feminism can bring to European foreign and security policy”, in which Nina Bernarding from the Centre of Feminist Foreign Policy will also participate. Here you can register – the webinar will take place within the new online format “GreenEuropeWebinars“.

Together with Ernest Urtasun, I am also responsible for the parliamentary report “Gender Equality in the EU’s Foreign and Security Policy”. If the coronavirus does not thwart the plans, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality will table their amendments on this in April. And you too can send me your comments and suggestions until then. I am curious!

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