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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

German Defense Minister Lambrecht resigns

German Defense Minister Lambrecht resigns

The SPD politician presented her resignation less than a week before Western defense ministers meet in Germany.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht has resigned on Monday, after a series of mistakes made her position in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government untenable.

“I have today asked the chancellor to dismiss me from the office of the Federal Minister of Defense”, Lambrecht said in a written statement on Monday. “The media focus on my person for months hardly allows for objective reporting and discussion about the servicemen and women, the Bundeswehr and security policy decisions in the interest of the citizens of Germany,” she added.

Scholz has accepted Lambrecht’s resignation, a spokeswoman for Scholz’s cabinet said in a press conference.

The minister’s repeated blunders put increasing strain on Scholz and his German defense policy shift announced during in his Zeitenwende speech last year. On Friday, various media outlets had reported unanimously on the planned resignation.

Lambrecht failed to implement an increase in military spending pledged by Scholz after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She had also faced strong criticism for celebrating an early delivery of 5,000 helmets to Ukraine at the beginning of last year as “a clear signal” of support, then by taking her son on a helicopter flight as part of a personal holiday. An awkward New Year’s Eve video, where her well wishes were muffled by the sound of exploding fireworks, contributed to eroding her stature as a defense minister.

The news of Lambrecht’s resignation throws the Scholz government into uncertainty, less than a week before a crucial meeting of Western defense ministers in Ramstein. Her successor will be announced soon, but “probably” not on Monday, the government spokeswoman said.

Several names are circulating on German media shortlists: Chancellor’s Office head Wolfgang Schmidt, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces Eva Högl, Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil, Lambrecht’s Parliamentary State Secretary Siemtje Möller and SPD leader Lars Klingbeil.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Monday on the sidelines of a visit to a weapons manufacturer in Ulm that he has a clear idea of Lambrecht’s successor. His idea will become known to everyone “very quickly,” he added. “I know how it should proceed from my point of view, and we will announce that in time,” Scholz said.
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