Jürgen Grässlin, Freiburg Regarding Item 3 of the Agenda: »The actions of the members of the Board of Management are not to be ratified.
Sales of Mercedes vehicles in Germany in 2005 were far lower than expected. One reason for this is the fact that the company's image suffered enormously last year. For example, in the ranking of German companies, DaimlerChrysler fell from 4th position to 54th. (Poll by the TNS Emnid institute and BIK Marplan-Intermedia in September and October 2005). The reasons are numerous and range from quality disaster to ethics disaster - the insufficient ethical and moral responsibility of the Daimler Board of Management.
Despite repeated demands by the DaimlerChrysler Critical Shareholders (KADC, Arndtstrasse 31, 70197 Stuttgart, Tel. +49 (0)711 608396; www.kritischeaktionaere.de and www.juergengraesslin.com), in 2005 the Board of Management once again failed to get rid of its shares in the European armaments giant European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS N.V.) or to start converting it to purely civil production (armaments conversion). And Daimler/EADS is involved not only in the production of bomber aircraft, military helicopters and carrier systems for nuclear weapons, but, through equity holdings, also in the production of wide-area bombs, wide-area ammunition and wide-area ammunition launchers.
It was possible to document this involvement at the international armaments fair Eurosatory in Paris. On the stand of MBDA, in which EADS holds a 37.5% stake, the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) was presented, including wide-area ammunition. The MLRS rocket launcher is currently being improved. The new, so-called Guided MLRS System, will have an extended range, will be more accurate, and will have more efficient ammunition. Moreover, the future mass production of MLRS rockets was announced at Eurosatory. Such a system can distribute around 8,000 bomblets in an area of up to one square kilometer with one salvo. In the view of the DaimlerChrysler Critical Shareholders and Aktionsbündnis landmine.de (Alliance for Action on Landmines) wide-area ammunition violates the Geneva Convention, which prohibits random attacks.
Daimler/EADS also profits from the business with wide-area ammunition through the 19% stake in Diehl BGT Defence and the 50% stake in TDA. Diehl Bodensee-Gerätetechnik produces the RM 70 rocket launcher including wide-area ammunition rockets for the Slovakian armed forces. TDA offers various rockets with wide-area ammunition, for the Tiger military helicopter, for example.
In it annual reports, Daimler's associated company EADS praises its »corporate social responsibility« (CSR) and claims: »Our products and services for defense purposes enhance the security of many nations.« The fact is that wide-area ammunition threatens the lives of many innocent people, especially children, women and old people, in crisis zones and war zones. Because with the use of wide-area ammunition, as also happened in Kosovo for example, civilians are often hit.
The Critical Shareholders demand that DaimlerChrysler, as the biggest shareholder in EADS, immediately stops any involvement in the research, development and production of wide-area ammunition and wide-area bombs and their carrier systems. Aktionsbündnis landmine.de - to which the organizations Brot für die Welt, Christoffel-Blindenmission, Deutscher Caritasverband, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, EIRENE-International, Handicap International (Germany), Justicia et Pax, Kindernothilfe, medico international, Misereor, Oxfam Germany, Pax Christi, Solidardienst International e.V., terre des hommes and UNICEF Germany belong, among others - expressly demand that EADS ceases the production and export of wide-area ammunition (see www.landmine.de). Unicef, the children's aid arm of the United Nations, refused to put DaimlerChrysler on its sponsors list once again in 2005. In February 2006, hat Belgium was the first country to ban wide-area ammunition, which will promote discussion of the issue in Germany and focus the public discussion on Daimler/EADS as a producer of wide-area ammunition.
Recently, German newsreader Anne Will clarified her position: »It must be forbidden that wide-area bombs are even produced. Only this can ensure that they are never dropped again.« According to Will, it is »essential to work for their prohibition«. German television actress Ulrike Folkerts demands that the Daimler Group rejects wide-area ammunition: »And until it does that, I am not prepared to drive a Mercedes, and certainly not to buy one.« She will only become a Mercedes customer again when the Group declares: »We are ceasing production.« Only then will she be ready »to become a Mercedes customer again.«