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3 Jan, 2023 00:27

German defense minister slammed over ‘inappropriate’ message on Ukraine

Opposition MPs called for the resignation of Christine Lambrecht over “embarrassing” New Year’s Eve message
German defense minister slammed over ‘inappropriate’ message on Ukraine

Germany’s defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, has been roundly criticized after publishing a New Year’s Eve greeting in which she touched upon the ongoing conflict in Ukraine against the backdrop of festive fireworks in Berlin. The message was broadly slammed as an “embarrassment” and prompted opposition politicians and some journalists to call for her resignation.

In a video published on her personal Instagram page on Saturday night, Lambrecht can be seen standing in the middle of a Berlin street, with loud fireworks blasting behind her.

“A war is raging in the middle of Europe,” the minister says at one point, without even mentioning Russia or Ukraine. Lambrecht then goes on to say that over the past year she has had “many encounters with interesting and great people” and has received “many special impressions” in connection to the ongoing conflict. “I would like to say a heartfelt thank you for that,” she adds. 

A member of the Bundestag’s Defense Committee, Serap Guler, branded the minister’s message an “embarrassment” that only added to a pile of her previous alleged mistakes. “Every additional minute the chancellor [Olaf Scholz] still holds on to this minister and further damages the reputation of our country would lie at his door,” said the lawmaker from the Conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – Germany's largest opposition party.

It is not just about the image of the minister herself, but the perception of Germany in Europe and around the world, Guler warned, wondering “who is supposed to take us seriously anymore?”

Her words were echoed by another CDU MP, Roderich Kiesewetter, who called Lambrecht’s message “inappropriate” in an interview with the Tagesspiegel daily. “It strengthens the distrust… towards Germany that is unfortunately taking hold in Europe and internationally,” he said. 

The CDU’s former leader, Armin Laschet, also lashed out at the German government over Lambrecht’s message. “Have they lost their minds in Berlin?” he wrote in a Twitter post, wondering if Scholz “really does not care about Germany’s image in Europe and the world.”

The government has refused to comment on the situation, with deputy government spokesperson Christiane Hoffmann telling journalists “I don't see any reason to evaluate this now.”

The CDU has been calling for Lambrecht’s resignation for months. Scholz has so far supported the defense chief, and in an interview with the SZ newspaper back in December, he said Lambrecht had been a “first-class defense minister.”