Berlin Predecessor Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and Inspector General Eberhard Zorn are ready, the military honor formation is marched up when the new Defense Minister gets out of the service limousine on Thursday morning. Together with Zorn he paces the formation, stops in the middle, bows briefly and then continues on his way. When he has reached the end of the row, he has finally arrived in the new office, which, according to his own words, was only offered to him on Monday.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the new Defense Minister with his certificate of appointment very early on. Boris Pistorius (SPD) will take over the ministerial office “in a threat and dangerous situation that Germany has not known for a long time,” said Steinmeier. Pistorius then took his oath in the Bundestag shortly after nine o’clock.
After the inglorious departure of his predecessor Lambrecht, who was greeted with friendly applause in the morning, the former Minister of the Interior of Lower Saxony is under enormous pressure of expectations. In the current “environment of new threats and geopolitical changes, it is now crucial to make the Bundeswehr capable of deterrence and ready to defend itself,” says Steinmeier.
On the first day in office, Pistorius has to lower expectations a little. After being received with military honors, there is a short statement. Questions are not allowed. The danger is too great that Pistorius will get off to a bad start if he gives the wrong answers to sensitive questions about tank deliveries to Ukraine right from the start.
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In view of the current issues and challenges we are facing, there will be ample opportunity for more detailed statements in the near future, says the new holder of the authority to command and control the armed forces. Ahead of him is a task with “extremely great responsibility”, which he looks forward to with “humility and all respect”. “These are not normal times, it is war in Europe.”
Meeting with US counterpart Lloyd
Germany is not a party to the war, but is affected by the war, and security policy has a different meaning than it did a year ago. “That’s why it’s now about making the Bundeswehr strong now and quickly, it’s about deterrence, effectiveness and operational capability.” His predecessor Lambrecht pushed many things. “But most of the turning point is still ahead of us.”
The new defense minister promises that Ukraine will continue to be supported, without specifically addressing the tank issue. He only says one thing: the support must be provided “with material from the Bundeswehr”.
Pistorius can discuss how this support should look like – hardly after the honor formation has marched off again – with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin. The American is pleased to be the new minister’s first visitor. Which in turn is not art, since Pistorius has only been in office for an hour, as Austin himself says. However, the new boss in the Bendlerblock had already telephoned his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornu immediately after being sworn in.
>> Read here: Boris Pistorius directly has a double tank problem
Pistorius and Austin do not reveal whether Germany and America will go to the next meeting of the Ukraine contact group on Friday in Ramstein with a commitment to tanks, even if the American praises Germany as “one of his most important allies”.
need for coordination
Various media had reported the night before that Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) was ready to deliver Leopard tanks if the United States provided Abrams main battle tanks.
Pistorius: Germany and the USA stand “shoulder to shoulder”
Apparently there is still a need for coordination on this topic on Thursday – and differences. Because when the two appeared in front of the journalists, the government in Washington had already made it clear that they did not want to deliver any Abrams, at least for the moment.
The press briefing with Austin takes place before the actual interview, and questions are not allowed here either. The Ministry of Defense had canceled a press conference that had been scheduled for that time – allegedly due to time constraints on the American side.
>> Read here: When he was 16, he entered the SPD and has probably wanted to go to Berlin for a long time – that’s Boris Pistorius
But there is already an opportunity for further talks on Friday, as Pistorius says. Then, however, with Austin as the host at the US air force base in Ramstein.
More: Scholz can no longer prevent the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks – A comment