• Germany's news in English
 

Merkel ally faces heat for drone 'debacle'

Published: 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
JobTalk Germany
Graduates desperate to work for car giants
BMW are the most attractive employer for business and engineering graduates. Photo: DPA

Graduates desperate to work for car giants

A survey published on Monday shows that the car industry is the most attractive place of work for German business graduates and engineers alike. READ  

Language fails
Minster wows crowds with Denglisch
Gerd Müller, left, with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to his right. Photo: DPA

Minster wows crowds with Denglisch

Development Minister Gerd Müller recently captivated crowds at the Global Citizen Earth Day in Washington, D.C. with his enthusiastic - if erratic - English. The speech has since gone viral. READ  

Arms firms struggle to meet ethics mark
A Leopard 2 tank made by Germany's Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Photo: DPA.

Arms firms struggle to meet ethics mark

A report released on Monday by Transparency International UK found that German arms companies had a spotty record in their ethics and anti-corruption programmes. READ  

Chancellor's office 'knew' of US economic spying
An 18-meter-across satellite dish at the BND's Bad Aibling listening post. Photo: DPA

Chancellor's office 'knew' of US economic spying

Chancellor Angela Merkel's office has known since 2008 of US economic espionage targeting European companies such as Airbus but did not react, Bild said Monday, citing intelligence agency documents. READ  

Munich toddler safe after late-night adventure
Munich streets in the dead of night. Photo: DPA

Munich toddler safe after late-night adventure

A two and a half year-old toddler was found wandering through the streets of Munich by police in the early hours of Monday morning. Luckily he was return unharmed to his relieved parents. READ  

Public pitch in to find refugee home arsonists
A set of keys found at the scene of the crime. Photo:DPA

Public pitch in to find refugee home arsonists

After police made a public appeal for information in the arson attack on a refugee home on a television programme on Sunday evening, more than 30 members of the public got in touch. READ  

Greece crisis
Merkel and Tsipras have 'positive' phone chat
Merkel and Tsipras meet in Brussels on 23 April. Photo: DPA

Merkel and Tsipras have 'positive' phone chat

Athens will resume talks with its creditors Monday, a Greek government source said, after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke on the phone with Chancellor Angela Merkel. READ  

Bayern stroll to 25th Bundesliga title
Bayern coach Pep Guardiola on the sidelines against Hertha on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Bayern stroll to 25th Bundesliga title

FC Bayern Munich found out they had won the Bundesliga title with four games to spare when their only rivals Vfl Wolfsburg lost 1-0 to Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. READ  

Government knew of threat to Ukraine flights
Investigators at the scene of the MH17 crash in eastern Ukraine in mid-April 2015. Photo: DPA

Government knew of threat to Ukraine flights

Berlin knew the risks of flying over war-torn east Ukraine before Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky last year but did not inform German airlines, media reported on Sunday. READ  

Pro-Kremlin bikers defy bans on Berlin ride
Photo: DPA

Pro-Kremlin bikers defy bans on Berlin ride

Dozens of bikers from pro-Kremlin gang the Night Wolves on Saturday set off on a ride to Berlin ahead of the anniversary of Soviet victory in World War II, despite Poland and Germany barring the riders. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Gallery
German beer day: take the tour
Features
Off to Norway at 18 km/hour
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Gallery
The smileys Germans love to text
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
National
Expats face Monday deadline to register to vote for UK election
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
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

7,182
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd
?>