Germany’s Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht formally announced her resignation from the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) on Monday, following speculation about her future.
Lambrecht was hit hard by a video he posted on Instagram from the streets of Berlin on New Year’s Eve, in which he tried to relive his experiences of the war in Ukraine, but was almost drowned out by the sound of fireworks going off around him.
Members of the opposition Christian Democratic Union (CDU) called the news deaf and urged him to resign.
“The months of media attention on my person do not allow for objective reporting and discussion of security policy decisions for the benefit of servicemen and women, the Bundeswehr and the citizens of Germany,” Lambrecht wrote in a statement on Monday.
Scholes: Replacement to be announced soon
Chancellor Olaf Scholes remained loyal to Lambrecht until the end, describing him as “first class” in December.
Scholz said on Monday that he had a “clear idea” of plans to replace Lambrecht and that he would make his intentions known soon, but said it was too early to discuss it on Monday. He praised Lambrecht for his work trying to bring reforms to one of Germany’s most notoriously difficult ministries.
“He worked diligently to break free from decades of trodden paths so that we could manage national security and the critical recovery Ukraine needed,” he said.
Tough year on defense
Lambrecht’s tenure began inauspiciously, even before the war in Ukraine. Military experts were uncertain about his experience, and his year in office became a series of minor scandals. Lambrecht had to face much criticism for the German government’s reluctance to send heavy weapons to Ukraine.
But it didn’t help that he took his grown-up son on an official trip in a German armed forces helicopter to an army unit in northern Germany, only to continue with him on holiday in Silt.
But more than family scandals, the loss of confidence in the armed forces has been marked by leaks in the German media in recent weeks.
A source said Glass The Defense Ministry fell into “deep lethargy” under Lambrecht’s leadership this weekend. “Ultimately the reason for his resignation was the loss of absolute power of the Ministry of Defense,” said Raphael Los, a defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR). “Even if he had continued as a minister, I think it would have been largely a lost cause.”
Scholz hopes his new appointment will provide some stability to the ministry. Candidates suggested in the German media include SPD leader Lars Klingbeil, longtime labor minister Hubertus Heil and Bundeswehr special parliamentary commissioner Eva Högl. A successor from Scholes’ SPD is certain to maintain the balance in the cabinet agreed during coalition talks. Scholz has promised to maintain gender equality between men and women in her cabinet.
Great job for the newbie
Whoever the new minister is, they have to hit the ground running. The first order of business was to prepare for Friday’s “Ukraine Liaison Group” of NATO defense ministers at the US Air Force base in Ramstein, West Germany.
Scholz thinks the meeting could be used to reset Germany’s policy on Ukraine, which has come under international pressure after a loss in the ECFR.
“This resignation opens up an opportunity for Schaals to change the narrative about Germany’s support for Ukraine,” he told DW. “If Rammstein wants to show more leadership ahead of the airport meeting, I think this resignation gives him an opportunity to spin a story about how things will turn out.”
Whoever it is, the German defense minister will have little say in key decisions about what weapons are sent to Ukraine, but will have a lot to deal with.
“NATO has already placed a significant burden on the Bundeswehr in terms of current deployments,” Laus said. “The Bundeswehr’s operational speed and requirements will increase significantly over the next two years, and delivering that will be a challenge. The task of the next Defense Minister will be to manage all of this without losing the support of the armed forces. , as Christine Lambrecht did.”
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