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POLITICS

Scholz names Germany’s first gender-equal cabinet

Olaf Scholz, due to be elected this week to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor, on Monday named the country's first gender-balanced cabinet, with women taking key security portfolios.

Incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz with his SPD team of ministers for the next coalition government.
Incoming Chancellor Olaf Scholz with his SPD team of ministers for the next coalition government. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Michael Kappeler

Scholz, a Social Democrat (SPD), unveiled his party’s line-up for the first government led by the centre-left in 16 years, with outspoken pandemic expert Karl Lauterbach tapped as Health Minister.

READ MORE: Karl Lauterbach to become Germany’s next Health Minister

“Equality is important to me and that is why of 16 ministers there will be eight men and eight women,” said Scholz, who describes himself as a “feminist”.

After the Greens, partners in the incoming coalition government, named their co-leader Annalena Baerbock as foreign minister, the SPD’s Christine Lambrecht, until now justice minister, will take on the defence brief.

“All foreign missions will continually be under review,” Lambrecht told reporters following the NATO debacle in Afghanistan, calling for every operation to have a “clear exit strategy”.

Regional MP Nancy Faeser will become Germany’s first woman Interior Minister, saying her top priority would be tackling the country’s “biggest threat: right-wing extremism” after a series of deadly far-right attacks.

Lauterbach, a prominent but divisive figure who has consistently called for tougher measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, will be the government’s
point-man to fight the pandemic.

Scholz said he was certain “most Germans” wanted Lauterbach in the job.

“Care givers and doctors deserve to see (healthcare) as a top priority in German policy,” Scholz said, as many hospitals report their intensive care units are at the breaking point with a surge in Covid patients.

Scholz’s SPD won the September 26th general election and last month sealed a deal to form a coalition with the ecologist Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats.

He is expected to be formally elected by parliament on Wednesday.

Merkel is retiring from politics after 16 years at the helm of Europe’s top economy.

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UKRAINE

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have met the Ukrainian president in Kyiv, after the trio travelled overnight by train from Poland.

Macron, Scholz and Draghi meet Ukrainian president in Kyiv

The three leaders left in the early hours of Thursday, arriving into Kyiv on Thursday morning. After a visit to the heavily-bombed town of Irpin, they met Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

It is the first time that the leaders of the three European Union countries have visited Kyiv since Russia’s February 24th invasion of Ukraine, and the visit comes as Kyiv is pushing for membership of the EU.

Macron has been paying a two-day visit to Romania and Moldova to discuss the ongoing crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

There had been widespread speculation in France that he would combine the trip with a visit to Zelensky in Ukraine, but this was not confirmed until Thursday morning.

In a joint press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, Macron reiterated his desire that Ukraine should win the war, but added that eventually negotiations between Ukraine and Russia will be necessary.

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