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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Federal government: Defense Minister Lambrecht resigns

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The defense minister was repeatedly criticized. Now Lambrecht draws consequences. Chancellor Scholz has to fill a ministry that is currently the focus of particular attention.

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Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who has been under criticism for months, is taking action and resigning. In a statement by the minister on Monday, she asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD) for her dismissal. The question of succession initially remained unanswered. Deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann announced that the chancellor would regulate this “promptly”. Lambrecht did not admit to her own mistakes in her statement. Instead, she cited media coverage as the reason for her resignation.

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“The media focus on my person for months hardly allows factual reporting and discussion about the soldiers, the Bundeswehr and security policy decisions in the interests of the citizens of Germany,” wrote Lambrecht. “The valuable work of the servicewomen and men and the many motivated people in the business area must be in the foreground. That’s why I decided to make my office available.” She thanks everyone “who is committed to our safety every day and wishes them all the best for the future”.

“Respect for the decision”

Deputy government spokeswoman Hoffmann said at the federal press conference: “The Chancellor respects Ms. Lambrecht’s decision and thanks her for the good work she has done as Defense Minister during this difficult and challenging time.” Out of “respect for the minister’s decision”, the decision on the successor “in all likelihood” will no longer be announced on Monday.

CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja called for a quick replacement. “We now need clarity and competence for the Bundeswehr quickly,” he said on the Welt television channel. The troops must know who is leading them. A quick successor is also needed for the upcoming armaments projects and the decisions about possible tank deliveries to Ukraine. The AfD defense politician Rüdiger Lucassen criticized: “The Bundeswehr is busy with itself, while a war is raging in Europe and the tension is not far away.” The new defense minister must understand the Bundeswehr as a whole “in order to quickly restore material, personnel and non-material operational readiness.”

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai said the Liberals accepted the minister’s decision “with respect”. In Europe and in the NATO alliance, Germany is currently being looked at very closely. At the head of the Ministry of Defense you now need a person “who is able to shoulder this challenge”.

A lot of criticism

For months, the 57-year-old Lambrecht has faced demands for her resignation from the opposition Union. Critics accused her, for example, of the slow start to procurement for the Bundeswehr, a lack of expertise, but also her appearance in public. A photo of her son, who was traveling in a Bundeswehr helicopter, made negative headlines. Lambrecht recently caused irritation with a New Year’s message spread on Instagram, in which she spoke about the Ukraine war accompanied by New Year’s Eve fireworks in Berlin.

A central position in Chancellor Scholz’s traffic light cabinet must now be filled. The Ministry of Defense has also come into focus as a result of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. In response, Germany launched a 100 billion euro program to better equip the Bundeswehr. The Ministry of Defense also plays an important role in supporting Ukraine.

In mid-December, Scholz had defended his defense minister against criticism. “The Bundeswehr has a first-class defense minister,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time. “I can only wonder about some of the criticism.”

Lambrecht took over the Ministry of Defense with the start of the traffic light government at the end of 2021. Previously, she had been Federal Minister of Justice in the last cabinet of Angela Merkel (CDU), after the resignation of Franziska Giffey she had also headed the Ministry of Family Affairs.

The SPD politician is already the second traffic light minister to resign from office. Last year, the Greens politician Anne Spiegel resigned as Minister for Family Affairs – because of her role as Minister of the Environment for Rhineland-Palatinate during the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley in July 2021. She was replaced by Lisa Paus (Greens).

Source: Stern

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