Berlin, new surprise minister in La Défense to decide on kyiv aid

So far Minister of the Interior of Basse-Saxe, Boris Pistorius takes the reins of the armies while Germany is under pressure to unlock the delivery of tanks to Ukraine.

by Cécile Boutelet (Berlin, Correspondence)

Olaf Scholz will finally have surprised everyone. After three days of intense speculation on the name of the new Minister of Defense, replacing Christine Lambrecht, resigning, the German Chancellor chose, Tuesday, January 17, a candidate far from the forefront of federal political life: the Social Democrat (SPD) Boris Pistorius, 62, for ten years Minister of the Regional Interior of the Land of Basse-Saxe. Until now little known to the general public, he will be up to him that the heavy task of carrying out the great reform of the Bundeswehr, the German army, at a crucial moment in its history.

Questioned Tuesday afternoon, the interested party said he was “very surprised” from the Chancellor’s call, only on Monday, the same day of the resignation of Christine Lambrecht. Mr. Pistorius, obviously a second choice, did not appear on any of the names of names mentioned during the weekend in the press.

His appointment breaks, undoubtedly for a long time, gender parity within the government, a great promise of Olaf Scholz. The Chancellor apparently had to resolve the risk of criticism in his party and in his environmental allies. On Tuesday, he praised a man who brings “a lot of safety experience”, as well as the “strength and calm” necessary for the function. Mr. Pistorius said he accepted “with great pleasure” the mission offered by Olaf Scholz, promising to invest in “150 %”.

In view of the difficulty of the task, motivation was an essential prerequisite to occupy this position. The Ministry of Defense is traditionally the unloved child of German politics. Its leaders generally make short passages, which rarely lead to a great career. The institution suffers from structural weaknesses: reputed to be extremely bureaucratic, influenced by logics of military hierarchy, its management is considered very delicate.

change of era

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the ministry had nevertheless had its revolution, becoming one of the neuralgic centers of government action. This is where the great project announced by Olaf Scholz must materialize during his speech on the “Zeitenwende” (the change of time) on February 27, 2022, which ended decades of German deduction in terms of defense and safety.

It is 100 billion euros in special funds that have been granted to the Bundeswehr, in order to fill more than two decades of the defense device. But it is already clear that this sum will not be enough. Eva Högl, Bundestag delegate for military affairs, whose name circulated to take over from Christine Lambrecht, said that a tripling of this sum was necessary “to develop the army significantly”. Most often, it is less a question of gaining in power than of filling in glaring failures – lack of ammunition, basic equipment, seriously dysfunctional material – so that Germany can honor its international commitments and above all cope with the news threats.

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/Media reports cited above.