Germany's new defense minister takes office, meets US counterpart
Germany's new Minister of Defense, Boris Pistorius, took office on Thursday and stressed that "the meaning of security is different than it was a year ago" due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
"These are not normal times," Pistorius said in his inaugural address. Although Germany is not part of the conflict, the country is affected by it, he said.
Taking over his predecessor, Christine Lambrecht, he inherits the task of rehabilitating an aging army long affected by austerity measures. "The armed forces, it has to be said, unfortunately, have often been neglected in recent decades," Pistorius said.
In order to tackle the issue, Germany already set up a special defense fund of 100 billion euros (US$108 billion) last year. With this, the country also aims to achieve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in the future.
There are concerns, however, that the additional budget will not be sufficient for the task. According to Bundestag Defense Commissioner Eva Hoegl, it could take three times the 100 billion euros in special defense funds approved last year to correct the deficiencies.
"The biggest part of these times of change is still ahead of us," Pistorius said, adding that his job would be to "get tangible progress done now."
Immediately after taking office, Pistorius met with his US counterpart, Lloyd Austin, to discuss further support for Ukraine.
Lambrecht resigned from office on Monday following growing pressure after she posted a New Year's speech on social media, in which she referred to the Russia-Ukraine conflict in a manner that was perceived as inappropriate.