Claudia Roth

For the scientist, see Claudia Roth (paleobiologist).
Claudia Roth
Vice President of the Bundestag
Assumed office
22 October 2013
President Joachim Gauck
Preceded by Katrin Göring-Eckardt
Personal details
Born (1955-05-15) 15 May 1955
Ulm, West Germany
(now Germany)
Political party  German:
Alliance '90/The Greens
The Greens–European Free Alliance
Alma mater Ludwig Maximilian University
(did not graduate)

Claudia Roth (born 15 May 1955 in Ulm) is a German Green Party politician. She was one of the two party chairs from 2004 to 2013 and currently serves as one of the vice presidents of the Bundestag.


Claudia Benedicta Roth began her artistic work, which she always regarded as also being political, in the 1970s as a trained artistic director at a theatre in Memmingen. She then worked at the municipal theatre in Dortmund and the Hoffmanns-Comic-Teater, and subsequently became involved with the political rock band "Ton Steine Scherben".

She came into contact with the Green party on election campaign tours. In 1985, she became press spokesperson for the Green Party's parliamentary group in the Bundestag, despite being a newcomer to this line of work.

Member of the European Parliament

In West Germany’s 1989 European elections, Roth was elected for the first time as a Member of the European Parliament for the Greens.

Roth served as a member of the new Committee on Civic Liberties and Internal Affairs, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Sub-Committee on Human Rights. In addition, she was a member of two committees of inquiry in the European Parliament, namely the Committee of Inquiry into Racism and Xenophobia and the Committee of Inquiry into Links between Organized Crime and Drugs, as well as of the EC-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee.

From 1989 to 1990, Roth briefly served as deputy chairperson of the Green Group in the European Parliament.

In the 1994 European elections, Roth was again elected to the European Parliament as a lead candidate of Alliance 90/The Greens. She was chairperson of the Green Group in the European Parliament until 1998, first alongside co-chairman Alexander Langer (1994-1995) and later Magda Aelvoet (1995-1998). During this second term as an MEP, she was again a member of the European Parliament Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Sub-Committee on Human Rights and the EC-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, of which she was elected deputy chairperson. She also remained involved with the Committee on Foreign Affairs as a substitute member.

Member of the German Bundestag

Claudia Roth ended her work as an MEP when she became part of the Alliance 90/The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag after the German federal election, 1998. She became a member of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union and a substitute member of the Committee on Internal Affairs of the German Bundestag. Furthermore, she was elected chairperson of the newly established Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid.

On 9 March 2001, Roth was elected Federal chairperson of Alliance '90/The Greens at the party conference in Stuttgart and resigned as a Member of the Bundestag at the end of March 2001 as a result. At the same time, she was spokesperson of the Alliance '90/The Greens on women's affairs.

In the 2002 national elections, Roth was elected to the Bundestag as Bavarian lead candidate for Alliance '90/The Greens. Since then, she has been a member of the Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Cultural and Media Affairs. She is also cultural affairs spokesperson for the Alliance '90/The Greens parliamentary group in the Bundestag and chairperson of the German-Turkish Parliamentary Friendship Group.

Between March 2003 and October 2004, in Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s second cabinet, Roth served as the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office.[1]

Roth became federal chairperson of Alliance '90/The Greens again in October 2004 and was re-elected as such several times, most recently in November 2010. In 2012, she failed to become the number one woman in the campaign for the 2013 national elections. After this defeat she was unsure to run again for the position of leader of the party's board. Fellow party member Volker Beck started a support campaign in favour of her in social media networks and called it candystorm. The party members subsequently re-elected Roth with 88.5 percent backing.[2]

Roth served as deputy chairwoman of the German-Iranian Parliamentary Friendship Group between 2005 and 2009 and held the same office in the German-Turkish Friendship Group between 2005 and 2013.

Vice-President of the German Bundestag

Roth was elected as Vice-President of the German Bundestag on 22 October 2013. In addition, she is a member of the parliament’s Council of Elders, which – among other duties – determines daily legislative agenda items and assigning committee chairpersons based on party representation. She also serves as a member of the Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development as well as of the Sub-Committee on Cultural Relations and Education Policy. In addition, she is a member of the Art Advisory Board of the German Bundestag.

Political career

Political positions

On Turkey

Since her time at the European Parliament, Roth has regularly criticized the European Union's "determination to hold Turkey at bay."[3] In 1995, she expressed doubts about Prime Minister Tansu Çiller’s ability to bring about human rights reforms as a condition for a European Union–Turkey Customs Union.[4] In June 2013, Roth was at the surroundings of the Taksim Square when the police intervened to evacuate Gezi Park and was among those affected by the tear gas fired by security officers.[5] Following the victory of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the 2014 presidential election, she criticized the “dramatic erosion of the democratic system in Turkey.”[6]

On right-wing extremism

On Friday 17 March 2006, Roth reported herself to the German police for displaying a crossed-out swastika on multiple demonstrations against Neo-Nazis, and subsequently got the Bundestag to suspend her immunity from prosecution. She intended to show the absurdity of charging anti-fascists with using fascist symbols: "We don't need prosecution of non-violent young people engaging against right-wing extremism."

On the death penalty

In 2008, Roth publicly urged incoming U.S. president Barack Obama to "be pushing for the banning of the death penalty, not for upholding it. The death penalty is the biggest blow against human rights and the right to live. He is not in a position to determine whether people live or die, not even in punishing them for the worst crimes!"[7] Speaking in her capacity as leader of the Green Party and underlining the profound divergence in opinion concerning capital punishment in the United States and Western Europe, Roth called the execution of Troy Davis in 2011 “a cynical and inhumane spectacle that occasions mourning and horror.”[8] She has also spoken out against capital punishement on numerous other occasions, including the execution of the LaGrand brothers in 1999 which she attended.[9]

On patriarchal beauty standards

In 2015, Roth responded to critics of her appearance, stating that for her to have the wart on her nose removed would be "surrender to the patriarchal standards of beauty pushed by the oppressive right-wing".[10]

On the use of military force

Shortly after the U.S. launched military operations in Afghanistan in October 2001, Roth criticized the use of antipersonnel cluster bombs was "not appropriate". Her statement came a day after some 10,000 people, some of them carrying banners that said "Against repression and war" and "The American way of life is too expensive for our world," turned out in Berlin in a peaceful protest against the bombings.[11] When the members of the Green Party later defied their pacifist roots and voted overwhelmingly in favor of sending German soldiers to Afghanistan as part of NATO-led security mission ISAF, Roth maintained that "[the Greens] are and remain an antiwar party. But I think that under certain circumstances it must be possible to engage militarily in order to stop violence."[12]

As a consequence, Roth has in the past voted in favor of German participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions as well as in United Nations-mandated European Union peacekeeping missions on the African continent, such as in Somalia (2009, 2010), Darfur/Sudan (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), South Sudan (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015), Mali (2014, 2015) and the Central African Republic (2014). In 2013 and 2014, she abstained from the vote on continuing German participation in Operation Atalanta in Somalia, and she voted has against the European Union Training Mission Somalia (2014, 2015 and 2016).

Arms exports

In 2010, Roth publicly called for “more stringent control over and sharper criteria governing arms exports.“[13] In 2014, she – alongside fellow Green Party parliamentarians Katja Keul and Hans-Christian Ströbele – lodged a complaint before the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the government to keep the Bundestag in the dark about planned arms deals because it prevented the parliament from fulfilling its role of keeping the government in check. The court ruled that while the government did not have to disclose information about planned defense exports, it did have an obligation to provide the Bundestag with details, on request, once specific arms deals had been approved.[14] In a 2015 interview with Welt am Sonntag, Roth singled out exports to Saudi Arabia for criticism, calling the country "the top terror exporter in the Middle East" and raising concerns that the country's leaders may turn weapons sold by Germany on their own people.[10]

Relations with Tibet

Roth has met the Dalai Lama several times during her time in parliament and has been a supporter of the Tibet movement. In 2015, Roth addressed the official commemoration of the 56th Tibetan National Uprising day alongside Sikyong Lobsang Sangay in Dharamsala.[15] Alongside Robert Badinter and Karel Schwarzenberg, she became one of the first signers of the 2015 Paris Declaration which calls for European governments to develop a coordinated approach in addressing China’s policies in Tibet.[16]

Other activities (selection)



Roth has been criticized for her positive relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Along with fellow lawmakers Günter Gloser, Monika Grütters, Luc Jochimsen and Peter Gauweiler, she travelled to Iran in 2010 to meet with Ali Larijani, Manouchehr Mottaki and others; the trip was heavily criticized by international human rights organizations.[17] In February 2013, she was reprimanded by German media outlets and Iranian dissidents for warmly greeting the Iranian ambassador to Germany, Alireza Sheikhattar, with a high five; Iranian Kurdish dissidents hold Sheikhattar responsible for the murder of Kurds during his tenure as governor of Iran's Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan provinces from 1980 to 1985.[18]

In 2015, Roth again led a German parliamentary delegation for a five-day visit to Tehran, including meetings with Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, Deputy Speaker Mohammad-Hassan Aboutorabi Fard, Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht-Ravanchi, presidential candidate Mohammad Reza Aref as well as two of President Hassan Rouhani’s deputies namely Shahindokht Molaverdi, the vice president for women’s affairs, and Masoumeh Ebtekar,[19] the vice president and chairwoman of the Department of Environment;[20] she was, however, denied a meeting with human rights activist Narges Mohammadi.[21]


  1. The Commissioner for Human Rights Policy Foreign Office (Germany)
  2. Erik Kirschbaum (November 17, 2012), German Greens avoid split by re-electing leftist Reuters.
  3. Stephen Kinzer (December 15, 1997), Turkey, Rejected, Will Freeze Ties to European Union New York Times.
  4. Hugh Pope (October 7, 1995), New Allies Push Turkey Premier to the Right Los Angeles Times.
  5. Craig Mackenzie (June 26, 2013), Hotel guests and protesters treated by medics after riot police throw tear gas into lobby as Istanbul unrest continues Daily Mail.
  6. Sabrina Pabst (August 10, 2014), Erdogan is closing in on the presidency Deutsche Welle.
  7. Obama: Death penalty for child rapists! Bild, July 2, 2008.
  8. Scott Sayare (September 22, 2011), In Europe, a Chorus of Outrage Over a U.S. Execution New York Times.
  9. Michaela Schießl (March 1, 1999), Wie ein Tier im Käfig Der Spiegel.
  10. 1 2 Gabriel to call for Badawi release, negotiate contracts Deutsche Welle, March 7, 2015.
  11. Steven Erlanger (October 16, 2001), Fissures in German Support for U.S. Attacks New York Times.
  12. Edmund L. Andrews (November 25, 2001), German Greens Patch Rift And Support Use of Military New York Times.
  13. Booming Business: Germany Now World's Third Largest Arms Exporter Spiegel Online, March 15, 2010.
  14. German court rules against more disclosure in arms deals Deutsche Welle, October 21, 2014.
  15. Deputy Speaker of German parliament to attend 56th official function of Tibetan uprising day, March 9, 2015.
  16. Europe Stands With Tibet Rally Voice of America, March 16, 2015.
  17. Benjamin Weinthal (November 16, 2010), That Treasured German-Iranian Friendship Wall Street Journal.
  18. "German Green Party head high-fives Iran's envoy". The Jerusalem Post. 11 February 2013.
  19. Iran verärgert über Grünen-Politikerin Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 28, 2015.
  20. German parliamentary team due in Tehran Tehran Times, January 20, 2015.
  21. Iran verärgert über Grünen-Politikerin Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 28, 2015.
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