‘Winds of change’: EU’s von der Leyen bids Germany goodbye with Scorpions hit

EU president-elect Ursula von der Leyen chose the Scorpions' smash hit "Wind of Change", which has become an anthem for the fall of the Berlin Wall, for her official departure ceremony in Berlin on Thursday.

'Winds of change': EU's von der Leyen bids Germany goodbye with Scorpions hit
von der Leyen and new defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer during the ceremony Thursday evening. Photo: DPA

The so-called 'Großer Zapfenstreich' (Great Tattoo) is the highest military ceremony of the Bundeswehr (armed forces) in which Germany's President, Chancellor and Defence Minister are bid farewell.

The power ballad by the German rock band, which has sold an estimated 14 million copies since its release in 1991, was performed by a military brass band during the ceremony attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Von der Leyen, who takes office on November 1st, replacing outgoing European
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, last month handed over as defence
minister to Merkel's favoured successor Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

SEE ALSO: Germany's von der Leyen steps down as defence minister to run for EU's top job

The politician “probably did not choose the song because it was a worldwide success by a group that comes from the same region of Hanover as she does”, Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine, who also wrote the ballad, told the DPA news agency.

German broadcaster ARD's 'Das Erste' features a video of von der Leyen watching the song played by a military brass band. Photo: DPA

“The song has a deeper meaning especially in relation to her new role as head of the European Commission,” he said.

“The dream of peace continues to live from generation to generation,” he added.

Von der Leyen, who was visibly moved by the ceremony, also chose the European Union's anthem Ode to Joy and Mozart's Ave verum.

Choices by previous defence ministers have included “Live is Life” by Austrian pop group Opus and “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.

'A notoriously difficult portfolio'

Von der Leyen is the only Merkel cabinet member to have been there since the beginning of 2005, when the Chancellor took office, having run first the family affairs and then the labour ministry.

In 2013 she became Germany's first female defence minister, a notoriously difficult portfolio given post-war Germany's touchy relationship with military affairs and frequent defence equipment failures.

During her term, Germany has deployed troops in missions from Afghanistan to Mali while drawing frequent political fire from US President Donald Trump for what he considers Berlin's insufficient military spending.

In the tough post, von der Leyen has weathered scandals over far-right extremists within the army, controversial contracts with business consultancies and cost over-runs, including for the renovation of a vintage naval vessel.

SEE ALSO: Who is Germany's Ursula von der Leyen, the surprise candidate set to take the EU's top job?

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‘A good thing’ for footballers to express values, says France’s PM

France's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne - speaking in Berlin - said that footballers should be allowed to express their values, amid controversy over FIFA's stance against the 'OneLove' armband on the pitch.

'A good thing' for footballers to express values, says France's PM

“There are rules for what happens on the field but I think it’s a good thing for players to be able to express themselves on the values that we obviously completely share, while respecting the rules of the tournament,” said Borne at a press conference in Berlin on Friday.

Germany’s players made headlines before Wednesday’s shock loss to Japan when the team lined up for their pre-match photo with their hands covering their mouths after FIFA’s threat to sanction players wearing the rainbow-themed armband.

Seven European nations, including Germany, had previously planned for their captains to wear the armband, but backed down over FIFA’s warning.

Following Germany’s action, Wales and the Netherlands have since come out to say they would not mirror the protest.

Borne’s visit to Germany was her first since she was named to her post in May.

Following talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the two leaders signed an agreement for “mutual support” on “guaranteeing their energy supplies”.

Concrete measures outlined in the deal include France sending Germany gas supplies as Berlin seeks to make up for gaping holes in deliveries from Russia.

Germany meanwhile would help France “secure its electricity supplies over winter”, according to the document.

France had since 1981 been a net exporter of electricity to its neighbours because of its nuclear plants. But maintenance issues dogging the plants have left France at risk of power cuts in case of an extremely cold winter.

The two leaders also affirmed their countries’ commitment to backing Ukraine “to the end of” its conflict with invaders Russia.