Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who has been under criticism for months, is taking the consequences and resigning. In a statement by the minister, she asked Chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD) for her dismissal. The follow-up question is still unanswered.
However, Scholz said: "I have a clear idea and it will become known very quickly to everyone how this should continue." This is expected to happen as early as this Tuesday. Lambrecht did not admit to her own mistakes in her statement. Instead, she cited media coverage as the reason for her resignation.
"The media focus on my person for months hardly allows factual reporting and discussion about the soldiers, the Bundeswehr and security policy decisions in the interests of the citizens of Germany," wrote Lambrecht. "The valuable work of the servicewomen and men and the many motivated people in the business area must be in the foreground. That's why I decided to make my office available." She thanks everyone "who is committed to our safety every day and wishes them all the best for the future".
Scholz: Great respect for the decision
During a visit to an armaments company in Ulm, the Federal Chancellor said that he had worked well and happily with Lambrecht for many years. He thanked her for her work and said he had great respect for her decision. The Bundeswehr and everyone involved in the defense deserved that the successor be clarified quickly.
This was also demanded by CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja. "We now need clarity and competence for the Bundeswehr quickly," he said on the Welt television channel. The troops must know who is leading them. A quick successor is also needed for the upcoming armaments projects and the decisions about possible tank deliveries to Ukraine. The defense policy spokesman for the Union faction, Florian Hahn (CSU), named the military commissioner Eva Högl (SPD) as a suitable successor.
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai also called for a quick decision. The war in Europe leaves no time, he said in Berlin. "A hanging game would be bad for Germany." When it comes to the replacement, the FDP is all about the question of competence.
SPD leader Lars Klingbeil paid tribute to Lambrecht for her step. You took over the Ministry of Defense in an exceptional foreign and security policy situation, he told the German Press Agency. "Together with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, she made sure that we can finally bring the Bundeswehr back up to speed with the 100 billion euro special fund." In addition, she had "initiated many very specific improvements for the troops, for example in the personal equipment of the soldiers or in the financial leeway for the commanders on site".
Habeck: Responsibility in difficult times
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) told the German Press Agency in Berlin that Lambrecht had taken responsibility in difficult times. "The fact that she now decided to take this step was certainly not easy. It shows how seriously she takes the office."
For months, the 57-year-old Lambrecht has faced demands for her resignation from the opposition. Critics accused her of a lack of expertise, the sluggish start of procurement for the Bundeswehr, but also her public appearance. A photo of her son, who was traveling in a Bundeswehr helicopter, made negative headlines. Lambrecht recently caused irritation with a New Year's message spread on Instagram, in which she spoke about the Ukraine war accompanied by New Year's Eve fireworks in Berlin.
The chancellor now has to fill a key position in the traffic light cabinet. The Ministry of Defense has come even more into focus as a result of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. In response, Germany launched a 100 billion euro program to better equip the Bundeswehr. The Ministry also plays an important role in supporting Ukraine.
In mid-December, Scholz had defended his defense minister against criticism. "The Bundeswehr has a first-class defense minister," he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung at the time.
Lambrecht took over the Ministry of Defense with the start of traffic lights at the end of 2021. She had previously been Federal Minister of Justice in the last cabinet of Angela Merkel (CDU), and in the end she also headed the Ministry for Family Affairs.
The SPD politician is already the second traffic light minister to resign from office. Last year, the Greens politician Anne Spiegel resigned as Minister for Family Affairs - because of her role as Minister of the Environment for Rhineland-Palatinate during the flood disaster in the Ahr Valley in July 2021. She was replaced by Lisa Paus (Greens).