• Germany edition
 
Merkel ally faces heat for drone 'debacle'
Photo: DPA

Merkel ally faces heat for drone 'debacle'

Published: 04 Jun 2013 06:14 GMT+02:00
Updated: 04 Jun 2013 06:14 GMT+02:00

De Maiziere, is a close confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel's from her conservative Christian Democratic Union and had often been mentioned as a possible successor to the 58-year-old leader.

But with less than four months to go until a September general election, De Maiziere, 59, has become entangled in allegations he mismanaged a now-scrapped unmanned surveillance aircraft project with costly consequences.

The Euro Hawk programme had already swallowed more than €500 million ($651 million) before the defence ministry said on May 14 it would pull the plug.

Officials feared aviation authorities would not certify the Euro Hawk -- a version of US-based Northrop Grumman's Global Hawk customised by Europe's EADS -- because it lacks an anti-collision system. The ministry deemed the cost of adding such a system prohibitive.

De Maiziere, who has been attacked for failing to act far earlier, is due on Wednesday to present a report to parliament's defence committee on what the media have dubbed the "drone debacle".

He has been at Merkel's side since she took power in 2005, serving during her first term as her chief of staff before taking over the defence brief after her re-election in 2009.

Long viewed as a safe pair of hands with a particular talent for organisation and administration, De Maiziere had figured on the short list of possible candidates to eventually take over the reins from Merkel. Commentators said that speculation now looked to be quashed.

"De Maiziere could have become chancellor one day but since the drones crisis, no one is talking about that possibility anymore," the centre-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote Monday.

"The question is simply how de Maiziere will handle his mistakes and whether he can keep his job."

The wasted funds come at a time in which Merkel has been preaching fiscal discipline throughout the eurozone as a means to check the spiralling debt crisis.

De Maiziere will face deputies just days after news weekly Der Spiegel reported that senior defence ministry officials were aware as early as February 2012 about the concerns that led to the programme's cancellation last month.

Opposition leaders, who have been struggling to score points during the election campaign against the popular Merkel, leapt on the report.

The head of the Social Democrats, Sigmar Gabriel, called de Maiziere's long silence on the affair "unworthy" of his office, while Greens' parliamentary group chief Jürgen Trittin threatened a formal probe. Last month, Merkel's spokesman insisted that de Maiziere had her "full confidence".

But in an interview with Der Spiegel published Saturday, Merkel appeared reticent on his crisis management.

"The defence minister said he would present a comprehensive report this week about the project from its beginnings more than 10 years ago," she said when asked about his future in the cabinet. "I do not wish to preempt that."

De Maiziere had already run into trouble in February when he criticised German soldiers in Afghanistan who complained about a lack of public acknowledgement for their service, saying they appeared to be "addicted" to praise.

After a massive uproar, he said he regretted if his remarks had caused offence.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,525
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd