When Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives, Joschka Fischer brings with him his wife, with whom Gerhard Schröder dances – these were the topics of previous federal press balloons. This year everything was focused on Ukraine.
Berlin – The political mandate was largely absent. The clothes were darker, the bars and dance floors less crowded and the speeches more important. The Federal Press Front, the capital’s annual journalists’ holiday, has hardly ever been as political as it was in 2022.
In recent years, the corona pandemic has caused several delays. Now Russia’s attack on Ukraine gave the ball a new look on Friday night at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate and turned it into a “ball of solidarity” for Ukraine.
The ambassador criticizes the absence of many politicians
Unlike in the past, the focus was not on the Federal President, who had canceled this year because of the war, senior government members or celebrities. The attention of many around 1,800 journalists, publishers, moderators, managers, lobbyists and politicians at the 69th Federal Press Ball was focused on Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Melnyk, who had already upset political parties in recent weeks with his demands. for heavy weapons and extremely clear words.
The federal press conference, the journalists’ association in the capital, had asked Melnyk for a short speech. And used them for clear announcements. Melnyk thanked the press for the necessary coverage of the war and praised the ball with Ukrainian performers and a fundraiser for Ukrainian journalists as a show of solidarity. He clearly criticized the rejection of Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the entire federal cabinet: “I think it’s even worse that many politicians mostly shine from their absence. But if they hope to avoid critical questions, then they are wrong.”
“Turning point” on the topic of arms shipments
Only the media, asking questions about the federal government’s “reluctant” stance on the issue of arms shipments, would have raised pressure without which the “turning point” would not have been possible, according to Melnyk. Ukraine needs weapons to penetrate so as not to lose its existence. And then he addressed the reporters directly in the main dining room, who applauded him incessantly: “If a fight goes on for a long time, the media attention threatens to fade. Therefore I urge you not to lose interest in what is happening. “It’s done. Ukraine, otherwise people die unnoticed. And when people die unnoticed, the truth also dies.”
Due to the coron pandemic, organizers had reduced the number of guests in tuxedos and evening dresses by 500, so there was less crowd on the red carpet, where singer Natalia Klitschko, wife of Vitali Klitschko, former professional boxer and current mayor . of the Ukrainian capital Kiev, thanked. “It has to do with cohesion, with support, the help from the German population is incredible.”
Kubicki: We should not cancel everything either
Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) came with a blue and yellow bow tie, and many other visitors wore pins or ribbons in blue and yellow, the national colors of Ukraine. “We celebrate to help journalists. I do not think we should cancel everything,” Kubicki said. CDU leader Friedrich Merz and his wife saw it similarly. They came “because we know that this press ball will do something for Ukraine.” SPD leader Lars Klingbeil tried to protect his party friends and said he understood the ministers when they said, “We have no desire to celebrate.”
As is often the case, the Minister of State for Culture, Claudia Roth (Greens), the regular guest at the ball, was more exciting. “This is a strong signal for a key element of our democracy and it is a free and independent press. This is extremely important because this war is also a war against culture and a propaganda war.” But also: “This is certainly not a press ball that we eagerly awaited after such a long time of Corona.”
Good works, Ukrainian artists and donations
At the two champagne bars on the first floor of Adlon, at the buffet and beer stand, the mood was not at all depressing as time was running out. Ukrainian artists performed, dance floors filled, large ensembles and quartets played, and later DJs. The smokehouse, closed at the end of a corridor behind a restaurant, was the busiest and busiest. Hostesses walked around with large collection boxes filled with banknotes. It would be donated a lot, said one of them. Most of the guests would transfer the money with their mobile phones.
The theme of the evening can also be seen by tourists walking near the Brandenburg Gate in the barriers opposite Adlon. The blue and yellow floodlights illuminated the hotel and the sky.