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De Maizière to become defence minister

The Local · 2 Mar 2011, 16:24

Published: 02 Mar 2011 13:17 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Mar 2011 16:24 GMT+01:00

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A day after Guttenberg quit in the wake of accusations he plagiarized chunks of his doctoral dissertation, Merkel decided to hand her trusted lieutenant de Maizière, 57, the key defence portfolio.

"I don't just appreciate Thomas de Maizière's brilliant intellect and exemplary sense of duty and responsibility," Merkel said on Wednesday afternoon. "But he's also known for pursuing policies based on a foundation of solid values."

Merkel said she was certain de Maizière would quickly win the trust of the nation's soldiers while pushing forward crucial military reforms.

Replacing him as interior minister will be Hans-Peter Friedrich, 53, parliamentary group leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU).

Since Guttenberg belongs to the CSU, appointing CDU man de Maizière to the Defence Ministry entailed handing the Interior Ministry to a Bavarian conservative in order to preserve the balance of Merkel's three-party, centre-right coalition.

De Maizière served as Merkel's chief of staff at the Chancellery during her first term, but he switched to the Interior Ministry after her re-election in September 2009.

Guttenberg, 39, dramatically resigned on Tuesday, depriving Merkel's government of its most popular figure with six state elections looming this year. He also leaves the defence portfolio in a state of disarray, with the German military embarking on the biggest reform programme in its history.

Besides scrapping conscription, Guttenberg proposed radically downsizing the nation's armed forces to make the Bundeswehr a more effective professional force.

Story continues below…

He also wanted to increase the number of troops available for foreign missions so as to make the Germany military better suited to 21st century security challenges.

His plans, part of an €80-billion package of government cuts, had run into trouble however, with reports this week that Chancellery officials had sharply criticised them as rudimentary.

The Local/AFP/DPA/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:23 March 2, 2011 by marimay
Small gene pool?
14:31 March 2, 2011 by derExDeutsche
from a liar and phony, to a french guy in glasses?! for defense minister?!

Looking Professional, Germany! Keep up the good work;)!
15:01 March 2, 2011 by idiot
> Hans-Peter Friedrich

15:07 March 2, 2011 by Jerr-Berlin
der ExDeutsche...

exactly...a walking poster for inbreeding
17:42 March 2, 2011 by tallady
He is from a nobel family that fled France in the 17th century as Huguenots. His father was Inspector General of the German Armed Forces. His oldest brother was suspected by the Office of the Public Prosecutor of Frankfurt of laundering money for Russians..
18:54 March 2, 2011 by derExDeutsche
@ tallady

Wow. he sounds almost like a Kennedy.

a Nobel Family, brothers, 'closely bred'

plus, Ted Kennedy was working with the Soviets to sabotage Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign. small world.
01:46 March 3, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
So...the German Government, faced with one of those suprise falls-from-grace of a Wunderkind chooses a man to head the Bundeswehr who comes from a family that has proven generations of loyalty to the German people, is a political genius with a good working relationship with Bundeswehr folk and an understanding through his father of the realpolitik of Bundeswehr activities and himself has been Interior Minister. Sounds like a reasonable choice.

I wish him God's Blessing on his work as he may be facing the most turbulent decade of work for his position in 200 years...............
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