Christine Lambrecht speaks of the Ukraine war in a speech criticized as inappropriate and deaf, while the New Year’s celebrations continue behind her.
German opposition politicians are calling for the resignation of Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht over a series of missteps, most recently a New Year’s Eve speech that they describe as embarrassing.
Lambrecht drew heavy criticism for a video address posted on social media and filmed during chaotic New Year’s Eve celebrations on the streets of Berlin. Her critics condemned her for what they called an unmusical message.
In the speech posted on her private Instagram account, Lambrecht said the year 2022 presented Germany with incredible challenges.
“There’s a war raging in the middle of Europe,” she said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, her voice barely audible over the sound of exploding firecrackers.
“And that was linked to a lot of special impressions that I was able to gain, many, many encounters with interesting and great people,” she said. “I would like to say a big thank you for that.”
I’ve translated the relevant parts (as close to the original as possible, hence some clunky wording).
I’m sorry, this is catastrophic. pic.twitter.com/JMaJlh08cu
— Ulrike Franke (@RikeFranke) January 1, 2023
The Ukraine war alongside the festive backdrop and remarks about “great people” angered both opposition politicians and some media outlets.
Serap Güler, an opposition CDU MP, indirectly called on Chancellor Olaf Scholz to sack Lambrecht.
“The speech about the war with New Year’s Eve bangers in the background only tops her embarrassing series,” Guler wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “Therefore, the chancellor can be held accountable for every additional minute that the chancellor holds on to this minister and thus further damages the reputation of our country.”
This isn’t the first time Lambrecht has come under fire.
Markus Söder – chairman of the CDU partner CSU – had already called for her resignation in December.
“It would simply be better for Ms. Lambrecht if she left voluntarily,” he told the Bild newspaper. “If you can’t even order ammunition and struggle to buy a few American fighter jets, you’re just not up to the office.”
Lambrecht, a member of Scholz’s Social Democrats, has been criticized in the media for her response to the Russian invasion and Germany’s sluggish support for Ukraine.
The minister was ridiculed last year for an announcement Germany would send 5,000 helmets to Ukraine, whose government was demanding heavy weapons to ward off Russia.
Germany’s media described their New Year’s speech as inappropriate.
In a scathing comment entitled “Lambrecht is no longer tenable as a minister”, the Tagesspiegel wrote that her New Year’s speech made the war sound like an “exciting professional experience”.
The minute-long message, filmed with a cell phone, “shamed” Germany, the Bild daily said.
In connection with the war in Ukraine, the video was “inappropriate and embarrassing,” wrote the magazine “Spiegel”.
German media also questioned Lambrecht’s ability to spearhead efforts by Europe’s largest economy to revitalize its long-neglected armed forces after the war in Ukraine.
“For this decade-long task, one wishes for a leader who sparks joy and energy in defense policy, who encourages the ministry and the troops and uses public attention for the benefit of the Bundeswehr,” wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung.